For over 40 years, Chateauguay Valley Regional High School (CVR) has had a huge community based around its field hockey teams. CVR has produced many high-level field hockey players, many of whom have gone on to play for Field Hockey Quebec or Field Hockey Canada, not to mention the dozens of championships that CVR has won over the years.
Unfortunately, field hockey is a sport that seems to be dwindling a bit in Quebec. As of now, school teams are split into bantam and senior, as opposed to bantam, cadet, and juvenile as they are in other sports. Many schools are struggling, even then, to have enough players for a full team. This is not an issue at CVR, however, as both the bantam and senior sections have three teams competing this year.
One of the reasons why field hockey has remained so popular here is that the coaches work very hard on the recruitment process to get students coming out each year. They start right when the kids start grade 7, assuring them that this is a new sport for everyone, and it’s okay to come with no experience and dive right in. Terri Marino (CVR phys. ed. teacher and senior field hockey coach) says that this sort of recruitment process inspires many kids to play for all five years they spend at the school.
Field hockey is the only sport at CVR that is only offered to the female students. This alone creates its own sense of community among the players and coaches. Marino explains that “You’re belonging to something that’s different; it’s empowering.” Taylor Faille (CVR alumna and bantam field hockey coach this year) adds, “It is a sport where many girls come together and no matter what the score is, they have fun. It is so heartwarming to watch girls from different classes, friend groups, and grades come together and bond so quickly and help each other grow so fast!”
Having a place where these girls can try something new allows them to take bigger risks and gain more confidence. Faille explains that field hockey “allows for the girls to have a very safe and welcoming environment. They cannot compare themselves with the boys of their age group like they can in other sports. Their confidence is high, and their performances are spectacular. This is their sport, and they know it!”
Marino highlights the fact that this is not an easy sport, and that effort pays off. “At the end of the season, we play a game of the girls’ field hockey team against the predominantly boys’ football team, and the girls always win. That just shows that the skill has to be there.”
It’s been very common for former CVR students and field hockey players to return to CVR to coach after graduation. Marino explains: “When students have had that high level of involvement, they want to keep it going – whether for their own family members, nieces, daughters, or others. It’s so ingrained in CVR sports culture, I think people come back because they loved it.” Faille adds that for her, getting to watch how quickly players learn and how hard they work makes being a coach so rewarding. As a former player, she understands where a lot of the kids are coming from. “Many of us who have come back enjoyed it endlessly in high school and can remember the first time we tried it and how awkward and rough it was at first, but how the whole team laughed and giggled about it because we were all in the same boat,” she says.
The coaches this season are Terri Marino, Lisa Evans, Jodi Wallace, Jennifer Neal, Faye Craig, Christina Caza, Taylor Faille, Erika Hamilton, Cynthia Gallinger, Karlee Cluff, and Sayard Chartrand. Last year, the senior girls’ final came down to a CVR versus CVR game for gold and silver in the championship. Marino says, “We are hoping for an all-CVR final again this year.”