Self-funded field hockeyers take aim at nationals

The economy has affected almost all of us, and while for most that means a few less dollars to spend, for Dinos Athletics it meant cutting the field hockey program.

Last spring the Dinos announced they would be terminating funding to the field hockey team, effectively ending the program. Thanks to some hard work fundraising this summer the team is not only still around, they’ve set their eyes on being better than ever.

The 2008-09 season saw the Dinos field hockey team finish last in the Canada West conference with a disappointing 2-8-2 record, their best performance since 2003. Facing budget issues, the U of C made the decision to cut two of their underperforming teams: field hockey and men’s soccer. When the decision was made the future of each was up in the air, but with help from the community both teams have been able to remain part of the campus.

“I am confident that we have feasible, sustainable go-forward plans for both field hockey and men’s soccer,” athletics director Kevin Boyles said in an April press release. “This is a credit to the alumni of each program, who were able to rally support for their teams and provide solid solutions to the funding issues facing Dinos Athletics.”

Knowing the team’s funding was no longer provided by the athletics department added to the anxiety of a disappointing season finish, but nothing that wasn’t overcome.

“[The lack of funding] added a bit of pressure on the team from the outside, but performance pressure is good, it’s a healthy thing to have,” said field hockey head coach Jenn Swagar.

Over the summer the team worked what amounted to the hours of a part-time job fundraising to ensure that they could play when they returned to classes in the fall.

“We’re also looking at some larger sponsorship on the field during the games,” said Swagar. “But that won’t be the players organizing that, it will be on the coach’s head.”

The team’s prospects seem good for 2009-10, after losing just three athletes in the off season. Fans can expect to see a solid core of returning players, including defender Carolina Romeo who, at age 16, was named one of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 this summer.

“You’ll see a fast, skilled group, with some surprising plays,” said Swagar. “We’re aiming to get to nationals this year.”

The Dinos play their first game of the season against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in Vancouver this Saturday.

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