National Hockey Showcase 2017

That was fun…and eye opening! We have just returned from Sarasota and USA Field Hockey’s first ever National Hockey Showcase tournament with our U16 and U19 teams and are having a chance to reflect. Always these experiences are a success and this year was no exception. We are proud of all of our athletes and are beyond honoured to have such supportive and devoted (and fun!) parents in our ranks.
 
The National Hockey Showcase replaces the Presidents’ Day Showcase and takes place each February in Florida.  As an Academy we play in this tournament for a number of different purposes. First and foremost this is a development opportunity for our athletes. Still uncertain of opportunities available to them, and where to set their sights, this highly competitive tournament gives our athletes a chance to play in a much more competitive environment than available locally; helps them learn how to execute under pressure; and gives them a better idea of what they should be striving for in terms of their own development in order to reach their own field hockey goals. Our teams are always comprised of athletes with a combination of different goals and different pathways: some are looking to see what it is all about and have no clear goals or vision yet of what their field hockey future might look like; some just want to play in a competitive tournament to improve their game play to help prepare for being selected for a university team in Canada or to have a chance to further refine their game play prior to summer field hockey in Ontario; some joined the programme in order to benefit from Academy style training and playing to complement whatever they are doing with their regular club; some are considering a future playing NCAA field hockey and are in the process of showcasing themselves for NCAA coaches. What we all have in common though (all athletes and coaches) …is passion…for field hockey; for competition; and for personal growth through sport.
 
This year’s tournament consisted of 103 teams – 45 U16 teams and 58 U19 teams. A total of 88 college coaches were in attendance, scouting for potential players for their rosters for 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. The search starts early as coaches want to follow players for a number of years before moving forward with recruiting discussions. If you want to know more about how NCAA recruiting works, please contact us.
 
Our U16s were very young and very new to the sport and came to us in October as eager and athletic, but inexperienced, field hockey players. Lots of training in basic skill

U16s

techniques and basic game tactics through November, December, and January helped ready this team for Florida. The real learning with this age group comes, as it always does, in the tournament itself. The chance to play under pressure and in highly competitive matches is invaluable in helping these athletes recalibrate their goals and realize what they need to do to develop their skills and game. This group came a long way since October and stepped up and did some amazing things on the field. Our coaches were definitely proud. Always we must remember our experience level relative to the other teams in this age division and judge ourselves by our development as individual players and our growth as a team. From game to game, our learning and growth was evident. We learned how to compete; how to pick ourselves up; the thrill of a beautiful goal; the excitement of a BIG tournament; the team dynamics and team bonding; the rhythm of being an athlete participating in this type of event (lights out; team breakfast; warm up; cool down; hydration; team meetings; free time; etc); the unconditional support of parents; the worry of a team mate being taken to emergency…These are the types of experiences that help us grow and show us who we are and who we want to be. This group had a terrific time and we look forward to working with them again as some move into the U19 group and some become leaders in the U16 group next year.
 
Our U19s had their work cut out for them. This ended up being a relatively young U19 team with a bit of a gap in leadership experience, so the learning on this team consisted of stepping up and filling big shoes and dealing with the resulting pressure. This team had

U19s

moments of greatness…and moments of learning. The talented athletes on this team did what was required to hang on to 3rd spot in their pool and learned to rely on themselves and trust that their coaching and training had well prepared them to compete to win at this tournament. From game to game, their belief in themselves and their ability to compete while missing some of their more experienced teammates, allowed them to finish well and come away from the tournament feeling proud of themselves and realizing that their only limits are ones they put on themselves.
 
Our teams are selected through open tryouts in October and are geared for high school athletes. Our selections are based more on athleticism, work ethic, coachablility, and a desire to learn, rather than purely on field hockey skills. We know that by the time of our tryouts, many of our U16 hopefuls have only held a stick in their hand for a couple of months. Our goal is to select athletes who want to take advantage of this opportunity and are prepared to commit to working at it as we train as a team from October to February. If you are interested in knowing more, please get in touch with us and we can chat.
 
As coaches and staff, we will never tire of the feeling of taking these inexperienced, untrained, somewhat scared, yet totally enthusiastic athletes through a few months of training and then competing in a tournament of this caliber and seeing the impact such a programme has on the lives of these amazing young people.   Thank you athletes and thank you parents, for allowing us to be part of your field hockey journey.
 
 

 

 

 

 

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Indoor Field Hockey Season Opener

Always a great tournament, the 2016 Toronto Titan’s Scarborough Cup Indoor Field Hockey Tournament is now in the books.  This tournament, held at the Malvern Community Centre, is the season opener for the indoor hockey season in the GTA area and is always well attended and lively and full of excitement as local teams meet each other for the first indoor games of the season.

 

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A&C Toronto Tigers, U12

This year A&C was proud to enter teams in all three age groups – U12 (co-ed), U16, and U18.  Our U12s, the AC Toronto Tigers came into this tournament with very little experience, but with a ton of enthusiasm.  The core of this group had been doing small group training throughout the fall and even with no indoor experience under their belts were totally eager to give it a try.  They had a blast, won some and lost some, and learned a lot.  We were so happy to have this group of happy and enthusiastic new players join our A&C family and their spirit and love of sport really brought an extra element of fun to our overall experience at this year’s tournament.   We are looking forward to working with this group as we move forward and they are already asking to sign up for more tournaments so they can play again as a team.  Amazing!!

 

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A&C U16s

With our U16s we went into this tournament with the goal of “development”.  This is a very new group, the majority new to the Academy, and many only starting their training in Indoor hockey just a few short weeks ago.  This team impressed us with their grit and determination to battle through some pretty tough games competing against much more seasoned players.  Again, there was a lot of learning and now as they head into more indoor training they have a better idea of what they need to be working on to improve their indoor skills and game sense.  Very proud of this group, as not only were they executing new skills learned just a few weeks ago, but also playing together as a team for the first time, and experiencing Academy style coaching in games for the first time.   Lots to process, lots to learn, lots to reflect on.  Again, the feedback from this group and their parents has been terrific and we look forward to working with these passionate young athletes and help them reach their potential and strive to achieve their goals throughout the winter and spring and into next summer.

 

When one of the teams pulled out of the tournament at the last minute we were able to take advantage of the gap in the schedule and play a few exhibition games against Nova Scotia (who graciously allowed one of our A&C athletes to play with them this weekend as well).  This was a great opportunity to play in a less pressured situation and work on our skills and tactics and ended up really adding a lot of fun to the experience for the U16 group.

 

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A&C U18s, with Coach Cassius Mendonca and Coach QB Mascarenhas

The core of our U18s are veterans of this tournament but weren’t able to pull off the results we had hoped for.  Game tactics and systems that we’d been working on in training were put into play effectively and we had our chances, but just had trouble finishing and putting the ball in the net.  So back to the grind of working away and fine tuning our basics and ensuring our fitness stays high.  Even though it’s nice to win, losing lights the fire and makes us more determined to improve and work on our weaknesses, both individually and as a team.

 

The thing that makes us most proud when we attend a local event like this is to see the athletes on the other teams who have trained with A&C.  In addition to the 36 who were on the roster for A&C’s three teams, there were 10 other athletes, playing on all but 1 other team, who we have had the privilege to train.    This really reminds us that we are absolutely achieving what we set out to do when we opened our doors 6 years ago, which is to make a difference in Ontario.

 

Some very pooped coaches by the end of the tournament…but also very happy to have given so many athletes an opportunity to play in this tournament and to connect with our friends in the field hockey community.

 

Thank you parents for all your support….and driving, and feeding, and watering …

 

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Shooting Stars Tournament 2016

Each fall, over the American Thanksgiving Weekend, A&C takes a U19 team to a showcase style tournament in the US to compete and to get our athletes in front of NCAA recruiters.  In the past we have attended the National Hockey Festival in California, and this year we chose the Shooting Stars Tournament in Richmond, Virginia.  Now in it’s 3rd year the img-20161126-wa0006tournament has over 156 college coaches and recruiters on the hunt for talented young players for their rosters.

 

A&C’s U19 team is selected from our Academy athletes and is comprised of a mix of those who are already committed and need to keep pushing and playing competitively in their final stretch before heading to the NCAA; those playing for the first time in a showcase event and needing to experience this level of play and understand what they need to work on before being seen again at the National Hockey Showcase in February; and those just at the initial stages of getting on the radar for US college/university recruiters.

 

In addition to regular Academy training, this group of athletes did some additional small group training and video prep sessions and we guided them through all of the ground work img_20161125_083334and communications required as part of the NCAA recruiting process.

 

By all accounts it was an amazing experience for all the athletes:  a whole other level of play and competition than what they are used to locally; lots of learning; some ups and downs; new friendship solidified; lots of fun; hard work; great memories; and of course, lots of interest in our athletes.  We ended up with 4 wins and a loss putting us in 2nd place in our pool, being bumped out of first place based on goal differential.   A great first experience at this competitive tournament.

 

As always we love to reconnect with our friends and colleagues in the coaching world and as coaches we love the atmosphere of big events like this.  And we were very fortunate to be invited on a special tour of the University of Richmond — and boy were we impressed.  What an amazing facility and absolutely beautiful.

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We are now all safely back home, following up with coaches who showed interest in our athletes and picking up where we left off at the Academy.  We head right into National Hockey Showcase training and we are also settling into our season of indoor training busily prepping for the Scarborough Cup – the always fun, indoor season opener, hosted by Titans.  This is always a fantastic tournament and we are thrilled to be entering 3 teams and look forward to a busy weekend of indoor field hockey.

 

 

 

 

 

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National Hockey Showcase Tryouts

Every fall, just as the school field hockey season comes to a close we gear up for our tryouts for A&C’s National Hockey Showcase Programme.  Our coaches select 2 teams, one u16 and one u19, through a series of open tryouts in October and early November.  This programme is for high school athletes who are interested in experiencing Academy style training and preparing together with the team to compete in a well run, high calibre tournament in the US.

 

Selections are based on athleticism, coachability, game sense, national-hockey-showcaseheader-lwattitude, and our coaches are well awareness that field hockey experience and skills will be minimal at this point for many of the athletes. Technical and tactical training is provided as the teams prepare through November, December, and January.

 

This programme allows athletes from all clubs a chance to train with the Academy and play on an Academy team at a highly competitive US tournament and is a great option for those looking for a higher level of field hockey and those looking to ready themselves for provincial, national, or Canadian university programming.  It also is a tremendous opportunity to learn about other opportunities in field hockey and how the whole NCAA recruiting process works.

 

Our tryouts this year were the most competitive yet and it was very tough to select our teams.  Those not quite ready are encouraged to take advantage of other playing and training opportunities we have available for them as well so that they can be prepared to land a spot on the team the following year.

 

Our teams for the 2017 National Hockey Showcase are now selected and we have 35 extremely eager, excited athletes ready to train.  We are looking forward to getting to know these athletes and see the new friendships that will develop with these newest additions to our A&C family.

 

If you are interested in learning more, our doors are always open — we train athletes right out of high school, with no outside field hockey experience, or those from any club looking for more skills or tactical training.

 

Our goal, through all of our programmes, is to grow the numbers of athletes playing field hockey in Ontario and to improve the level of field hockey locally, in Ontario, and in Canada – so please come to us if you love field hockey and want to reach for new heights.

 

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Behind the Scenes at A&C Field Hockey Academy

A&C is fuelled by passion, determination, creativity, hard work…and maybe a touch of insanity.

 

Coming onto Ontario’s field hockey scene at the end of 2010 and slowly growing numbers and expanding programming, we have stayed true to our original vision:

 

  • to provide high performance training to athlete’s seeking to take their game to the next level and achieve their field hockey goals;
  • to grow field hockey in Ontario
  • to create a local awareness of international field hockey and the opportunities available through the sport.

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Our core consists of a small but dedicated group of passionate individuals with a complement of skills and experience that, when combined, have allowed us to surprise even ourselves with our hard won successes.  What we deliver ends up covering both ends of the field hockey spectrum: a combination of grassroots programming in an effort to get new people into the sport and grow numbers; and identification, guidance, and training for those who we feel have what it takes to rise to the top in this sport; and everything in between.  We LOVE what we do.

 

When the going gets tough we have to stop and remind ourselves of our successes:

 

At the Academy

 

  • 42 athletes training with us (from the original founding 4 in 2010)
  • 7 athletes who train with us, belong to other clubs
  • Enter two NCAA recruiting tournaments each year – February and November
  • Host the Canadian University Showcase as a way to expose the CIS coaches to Ontario’s athletes and vice versa
  • Providing Ontario’s athletes an opportunity to be seen by NCAA coaches here at home at our Showcase;

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Growing the Sport and Creating Opportunities to Play

 

 

We have muddled our way through learning the basics of social media in an effort to reach a wider audience than the existing field hockey community and to reach those already in the sport and help them understand what we do and how we can help.

 

Something’s working….

 

  • We are contacted every week by athletes here and in the US to learn more about what we offer
  • 90 percent of our athletes were selected for the Provincial Team
  • We have 10 athletes in the National Outdoor Programme (1 Senior; 9 Junior)
  • We have 15 athletes in the National Indoor Programme
  • Alumni and/or athletes identified at our Canadian University Showcase are playing in 8 Canadian Universities
  • We have 7 alumni playing in the NCAA; 1 committed for 2016; 3 committed for 2017; and another 5 athletes currently entertaining offers and in the decision making stage
  • We get phone calls every month from NCAA coaches looking for players
  • We are the club with the greatest number of teams entered into local tournaments
  • Our Spring League and tournament’s are growing every year
  • Our Senior’s Tournament is always at capacity

 

We are so incredibly proud of what our small band of coaches and behind the scenes staff have been able to create and absolutely bursting with pride at what our athletes have achieved, but more than that we are so proud of who they are.  They are dedicated, driven, hard working, humble, and loyal and their appreciation for our small part in their journey and the joy of watching them succeed is the real success.

 

And the icing on the cake is that we have recently been selected by Field Hockey Canada to manage the Junior Men’s Pan American Championship taking place in Toronto at the end of May.  What an incredible opportunity.  We feel honoured to have been asked and are so excited to work together with others in the community to make this event a great success.  Although it comes at a busy time for us we are embracing the challenge and look forward to all that we will learn and all the amazing people we will meet.

 


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United Brothers and Toros Do It Again….Tournament Champs

Congrats! Three years in a row the United Brothers and Toros have taken top spot in our Annual Invitational Seniors Tournament. In the men’s division, the United Brothers defended their title in a shoot out against the Lions, after no score in regulation time. And no less exciting on the women’s side, was the final match where the Toros managed to pull IMG-20150629-WA0002 out a win over the host team, A&C. Excellent, fast paced, skilled field hockey with competitive and passionate teams…amazing for newcomers to the sport to watch.

 

 

In its third year now, this tournament is becoming a bit of an institution. In both divisions, we’re sure there’s now some major motivation to dethrone the reigning champs and put someone new up on the podium. And win or lose, the consensus is that it is just a fun place to be for the weekend, to soak in the spirit and passion of the sport. Competitors on the field, friends off the field. The camaraderie is amazing in this sport and that’s why we love it.

 

 

IMG-20150629-WA0000On the Titans men’s team the ages ranged from under 12 to over 50. It was fantastic. On the A&C team the age ranged from under 16 to age 37; the Toros team consisted of a number of A&C alumni; there were ex-national players; there were current junior national and senior national players; there were ex-national players from other countries; there were current, upcoming, and retired Canadian university players; there were current, upcoming, and retired NCAA players; there were provincial players; there were Dads and sons; there were sisters and cousin; there were players from other provinces and players from other countries; there were national coaches playing; there were national and university coaches coaching; there were internationally and nationally certified umpires; there was an athletic therapist who also played; there were high school kids who have never played field hockey volunteering to help out; there were parents who have never picked up a stick, helping out behind the scenes; there was City staff excited to be an integral part of the event by ensuring the watering was on time; there was food donated for the players. This tournament and the passion of the participants, every volunteer behind the scenes, and every supporting spectator defines and exemplifies what IS the sport of field hockey.

 

 

Once this sport grabs you, it doesn’t let you go. We are not even sure what it is that makes IMG-20150629-WA0003it so. It is fast. It is highly technical. It requires skill. It requires fitness. It requires stamina. It requires tactics. It is amazing to play. It is amazing to watch. It is the second most popular sport world wide. It is an Olympic sport. It is a high school sport. It is a middle school sport. It is a university sport. It is an opportunity for travel. It is an opportunity for education. It is an opportunity for friendship. It is an opportunity for excellence. It is a recreational sport almost everywhere in the world except Canada. It crosses all borders, all nationalities, both genders, and all ages. People love it! And we love it! And that is why we do this tournament.

 

 

We are so lucky to have a world class field hockey facility in Brampton. If we could run programming on it from the first of May until the end of October every year we would. The field was the first in Ontario, installed two years ago for the Pan Am Cup and now we have two more downtown Toronto being readied for this summer’s Pan Am Games. We knowIMG-20150629-WA0001 that there is enough interest and enough passion to sustain a tournament like this every weekend. It’s a lot of work and because of our short summers, it requires a lot of cooperation between all levels of field hockey: the clubs, the province, and the national program to make sure we can accommodate each other’s schedules and programming to make sure as many people are able to participate in as many events as possible. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. We know we have the will and so we just need to commit to pulling together, keeping communication open, and supporting each others programmes and we will continue to not only produce top notch players to feed into our university system and national programme, but we will also be able to provide opportunities like this tournament for athletes to stay engaged in the sport they love and for the “old” and talented and experienced, to play along side the “new” and talented and inexperienced. These tournaments are one of the keys to making sure our developing athletes get the experience they need to go on and become Ontario’s (and hopefully Canada’s) strength.

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A&C Field Hockey Academy…Making A Difference

From time to time it’s a worthwhile exercise to stand back,  take stock and have a look at the big picture.  We are so often so caught up in the trenches and so busy in the day to day busy-ness of running our programmes and thinking of how we can do more and better, that we sometimes need to remind ourselves of the fruits of our labour.

 

One of our devoted A&C parents did a little digging around recently and presented us with2012 Invitational Cup45 (Cassius Mendonca's conflicted copy 2014-07-31) a summary of the successes of the athletes who have come through our “doors”.  We are floored!  Gobsmacked! Proud beyond measure! And completely motivated to keep building and growing and challenging ourselves to continue to make a difference.

 

A&C Academy started small and grew slowly.  In December 2010 we began – with 4 athletes (2 of whom were our own daughters) – with a desire to fill a gap for Ontario athletes.  Plain and simple, we wanted to provide extra training for interested athletes to help them get to the next level – whatever that may look like – preparation for provincial trials, Quest for Gold selections, university recruiting, or the national programme.

 

And here’s what has happened in 4 short years….

 

  • 10 A&C Alumni in the CIS
  • 10 Quest for Gold athletes
  • 9 2014 A&C Graduates
  • 8 A&C athletes participating in CIS finals in 2014
  • 7 A&C Alumni in the NCAA
  • 6 players named to the Canadian Junior National Squad
  • 6 A&C athletes on the Junior National Indoor Squad
  • 5 Disney Programme athletes who have gone on to play at CIS or NCAA
  • 4 2013 A&C Graduates
  • 3 athletes on the NFHCA National Academic Squad with a 3.3+ GPA
  • 3 A&C athletes on the National Indoor Pan Am TeamDSCN3077
  • 2 2013 A&C Graduates
  • 2 teams reaching NCAA Final 16
  • 2 athletes selected as game MVPs during CIS finals
  • 1 A&C athlete on the National Indoor World Cup Team
  • 1 CIS All Canadian Team member
  • 1 Top point and goal leader in the CIS
  • 1 NFHCA Scholar of Distinction
  • 1 MAA Conference Rookie of the Week
  • 1 American East Conference Academy Honour Roll
  • 1 American East All Rookie Team
  • 1 athlete participated in Div II finals
  • 1 player ranked 15th in NCAA DI for assists
  • 1 American East Defensive player of the week
  • 1 Member of the Senior National Outdoor Squad
  • 1 athlete selected as Team MVP (NCAA)
  • 1 athlete selected as Team MIP (CIS)
  • 1 athlete with Canada Sport carding
  • Many, many Provincial Team athletes

 

And these are just the individual successes 1961037_10153251011978436_2667879739967261941_oof athletes whose journey we have been blessed to be a part of.  We are also working hard at making a difference in the bigger picture by bringing the awareness of the sport to more people, by creating playing opportunities for all at a recreational level (high school) and a more competitive level (senior) – through leagues and tournaments.

 

The passion and commitment of our athletes, our coaches, our parents, and the many people behind the scenes is paying huge dividends.  And is keeping us motivated to keep doing what we’re doing!  We love what we do, and would do it regardless, but it is even more rewarding to be reminded from time to time that we truly are making a difference in people’s lives!  Thank you especially to our coaches.  Without their commitment, expertise, experience, and passion, none of this would be possible.

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NCAA or Canadian University?

 

 

This is not always an easy decision.  The majority of Canadian athletes who choose the NCAA route are not unpatriotic and not simply seeking greener pastures stateside.  Most are focused and driven to play their sport at the highest level possible.  So they go where there is the opportunity.  It’s often as simple as that.

 

The reality is that Canada, whether we are talking about provincial, national, or university 2014 Pics Nikkkon 380level opportunities, simply does not funnel the same level of resources into developing its programmes. Only 3 universities in Canada have FIH approved field hockey turfs (one of which was installed only last season in Toronto), while the vast majority of the 271 NCAA colleges and universities have state of the art, internationally approved facilities.  The number of universities in Canada participating in the CIS in field hockey is 10 – 3 in Canada West and 7 in the OUA.  NCAA field hockey consists of over 270 teams – 79 Division I, 29 Division II, and 162 Division III.

 

Though certain programmes in Canada may offer financial, or other, incentives to some top athletes it is rare, and athletics is simply not considered a route to a fully funded education in Canada.   In the NCAA, the 108 Division I and II programmes offer close to 1150 scholarships.   In the NCAA, top notch, international calibre facilities; tremendous resources for onsite coaching and support staff; team psychologists; strength and conditioning programmes; nutritionists; extensive academic support; and resources allocated for equipment, clothing, and travel are all standard offerings across the board.  For four years a Canadian athlete can go to the US, get a post-secondary education, train intensively at a high level, and play a lot of very competitive field hockey.  During this time they may or may not be able to take part in ongoing programming in their home province or with the national programme – this would depend on the timing and type of events and the flexibility of the university or college coach.

 

When these athletes return to Canada they come home with more playing experience, 2014 Pics Nikkkon 377against more teams, having had access to greater on and off field support and training, on enviable international level playing surfaces.  They are competing for spots on the national team against those who spent their undergraduate years playing the same 3 (in Canada West) or 7 (in OUA) teams.  It’s a compelling option for many.  The NCAA route should not be seen as a rejection of Canada, but just a different pathway to the same goal.

 

The biggest downside risk for those going to the US, and it is a considerable one, is the inconsistency in the quality of education in the US.   Without a doubt you can get an outstanding education in the US, from an institution recognized and respected around the world, but you have to do your research and be sure the programme and institution you are looking at meets your standards and goals.  In Canada, our post-secondary institutions are more consistently well respected and proportionately we have a higher ratio of world class universities ranked amongst the top in the world.

 

Yes, it would be brilliant to keep our athletes here.  But if we do, do we do them a disservice in terms of their ability to develop in their sport?  If they have an opportunity to benefit from the NCAA system, and it fits with their educational goals, shouldn’t we encourage then and help them get there?  By leaving for a few years, they are not rejecting Canada, they are putting themselves first and taking the most realistic pathway, for themselves, to become a stronger athlete so that they can have a greater chance of playing for their country when they return.

 

 

2014 Pics Nikkkon 351If we want to keep more athletes in Canada, we need to make it appealing to stay here.  Because a US education comes with a high price tag, the scholarship piece goes part and parcel with playing in the NCAA.  But we truly believe we can attract our athletes without offering them money.  We need to offer them a better field hockey experience; more playing; more development; and a realistic shot at the national programme. We absolutely can do it.  We just have to make more people aware of field hockey in Canada, get more kids playing at a younger level, make them aware of the opportunities in Canadian universities and understand the pathway from there to the national programme, and provide opportunities for the universities to find these athletes.  BC does a much better job of this than Ontario at the moment, as they have thousands playing recreationally from a young age and a systematic and organized club and provincial system all feeding into the national programme.  We need to learn from BC and work together here in Ontario to create the same clear pathway.  It can be done and requires all levels working together and supporting each other – schools, clubs, training academies, the province, and universities.  It will take time though…and in the mean time we need to support our athletes who see the NCAA as a realistic pathway for themselves to achieve their dreams.

 

A&C Field Hockey Academy is here to help you reach your field hockey goals, whatever they may be.  If you are interested in either the Canadian or the NCAA university experience we would love you to come to our University Showcase on June 6 and 7thClick here for more info

 

Save the date for our 2017 Canadian Showcase

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Getting to Know A&C Field Hockey Academy – Head Coach Cassius Mendonca

cassOur mission at the Academy is to “’excelerate’ athletes to excellence”…so we are passionate about taking committed, motivated athletes to the next level and helping them achieve their field hockey goals.  As such, our coaches are the foundation of our Academy.  They have the knowledge, experience, wisdom, and passion that underscores the success of our Academy making it possible to help young athletes achieve their goals.

 

Our other lofty goal is to spread awareness of field hockey and help grow the sport in Ontario, creating a greater pool of field hockey players, the natural result of which will be more talented athletes who discover a passion for the sport…and whom we can help.  We are motivated and inspired by the newcomers to the sport and are passionate about sharing our knowledge to propel them toward amazing opportunities available through field hockey.  Though those within the tight knit field hockey community are aware of our coaches’ experience, we want to make sure those new to the sport are aware of the experience within our ranks and can appreciate how the Academy is a different from a Club because of the depth of knowledge and experience of its staff.

 

Cassius Mendonca is the Head Coach at the Academy.  Over the past 12 years he has coached both men and women at all levels of play, in both indoor and outdoor field hockey.  He is one of the most experienced field hockey coaches in Canada, mentored by, and a great admirer of, former Outdoor National Head Coach, Louis Mendonca (no relation).  Most recently Coach Cass has been involved in the Women’s Indoor National Programme, both at the Senior and Junior levels.  As Head Coach he recently took a very young U19 Junior National Indoor Squad to the CanAm Series in Pennsylvania (March 2015).  This came on the heels of a trip to the Indoor World Cup, the best of the best of Indoor Field Hockey, in Germany, as a coach with the Senior Indoor Team (February 2015).  To qualify for this tournament he was instrumental in helping coach this team to a first place finish at the Pan Am Indoor Cup in Uruguay (April 2014).
1961037_10153251011978436_2667879739967261941_oWhile simultaneously involved in the National programme, he is also an Assistant Coach at the University of Toronto and has played an integral role in leading them to a CIS championship in all but one of the past 5 years….winning Gold in 2010.  In addition to his role as Assistant Coach and Penalty Corner Specialist, he has extensive experience as a video and technical analyst for both the university and national programmes.

 

He is Level 3 NCCP certified and when not leading the national or university teams he keeps himself busy as Head Coach at A&C Field Hockey Academy running Academy training sessions; small group training; individual coaching; preparing recruiting and training videos; selecting and training teams for the Disney Field Hockey Showcase; coaching at Skills camps; coaching at our annual Canadian University Showcase; and even coaching at schools as part of introductory field hockey clinics for phys ed classes.   With all this going on, he still manages to hold down a full time job as an Engineer/Quality Assurance Manager and maintain a fun and balanced life in which family takes a priority.
Indoor worldcupAlthough, Coach Cass is passionate about coaching at the elite levels and has high expectations and a demand for excellence, he also has the experience, compassion, personality, and skill set to effectively coach less experienced athletes.  Because of his vision, experience, knowledge, and belief in young athletes, he has helped many newer players understand, strive for, and realize their potential.   His passion and desire to share his technical expertise to help young people achieve their dreams is evident and has truly changed lives.

 

Here’s a quick overview of his experience

 

International and National Team:

  • Head Coach, U19 Jr National Women’s Indoor Squad – CanAm Series, PA, March 2015
  • Assistant Coach, National Indoor Women’s Team – Indoor World Cup, Germany, February 2015
  • Assistant Coach, National Indoor Women’s Squad – 4 Nations Series, Mississauga, December 2014
  • Assistant Coach, National Indoor Women’s Team – Pan Am Indoor Cup, Uruguay, April 2014 – Gold Medalist
  • Head Coach, National Indoor Women’s Team, Pan American Games, Venezuela 2010
  • Video and Technical Analyst, National Men’s Outdoor Team Pan Am Cup, Brampton 2013
  • Video and Technical Analyst, National Indoor Women’s Team – World Cup Qualifier, California, 2010
  • Coaching Staff, Women’s National Team – Selection Camps – 2009
  • Assistant Coach, Men’s National Team – World Games, Germany, 2007
  • Assistant Coach, National Indoor Men’s Team – World Cup, Austria 2006
  • National Indoor Men’s Team – World Cup, Austria 2006
  • Assistant Coach and Penalty Corner Specialist, U21 Jr. National Men’s Team – Pan American Outdoor World Cup Qualifier, Trinidad & Tobago, 2008
  • Head Coach, Eastern Canada Junior  national Field Hockey Outdoor Squad 2004-2006
  • Assistant Coach, National Indoor Men’s Team –  Pan American Indoor Games,  Kitchener, 2005
  • Coach,  Eastern Squad Junior National Team Players, 2004-2005

 

umpiring

University:

  • Assistant Coach, University of Toronto, CIS Gold Medalist 2010
  • Assistant Coach, Penalty Corner Specialist, Video and Technical Analyst, 2009 – Current, Outdoor, University of Toronto

 

Ontario/Provincial High Performance:

  • Head Coach, Provincial Men’s U18 Indoor – 2007-2009
  • Coach, Provincial Women’s U-18 Women’s, 2010
  • Ontario Head Coach High Performance Training Centre – Field Hockey Ontario 2007-2009
  • Head Coach, Ontario Senior Men’s Outdoor, Calgary 2008
  • Head Coach, Indoor Senior Men’s Ontario, 2008/09 – Gold Medalist
  • Head Coach, U18 Ontario Women’s Outdoor Development Team/Squad 2009
  • Assistant Coach, Ontario Senior Women’s Team, 2009 – Silver Medalist
  • Ontario Head Coach at Senior Women’s National Camp 2009

 

Club:

  • Head Coach, U-18 Men’s Programme, Titans FHC, 2001-2008
    • Competed in USA Big Apple, Canadian Holidays, New York, Ottawa National Cup 2003-Current
  • Coach, Mississauga FHC, 2009-2010, U18 Men and Women

 

Academy:

  • Head Coach, A&C FHA Local League, Tournament, and Travel Teams, Disney Teams, A&C Camps, A&C University Showcase Event, and A&C School Programmes, 2010 – present

 

Despite the value of his field hockey experience and knowledge, without a doubt his true strength lies in his character, his genuine spirit and love for people, and his passion for this sport.   We are proud of our Head Coach and thrilled that through him and his assistant coaches we, as an Academy, are able to have such an impact on the development of so many talented athletes.  Thank you, Coach Cass!

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Posted in Academy training, Disney, Field hockey training, Indoor Field Hockey, International Field Hockey, National Team, Uncategories | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Disney Field Hockey Showcase 2015

A&C is back from their third, and most successful, trip to the Disney Field Hockey Showcase in Orlando, Florida.  A&C’s two teams, one U16 and one U19, comprised of athletes selected through our tryout process in October, from clubs and high schools across Ontario, were relatively inexperienced, with many not having trained in field hockey until 3 months ago.  These talented, driven athletes learned fast and tirelessly dedicated the past three months to improving their fitness, learning and fine tuning their basic skills, learning game tactics, and bonding as a team.  And they shone!

 

 

IMG_4146With 4 games under their belts, at the end of Day 2 and pool play, both teams were well positioned with the U19s in second and the U16s in first spot in their respective pools.  Games were exciting and close and both teams took their technical and tactical training onto the field and made the coaches and their parents beyond proud.  Day 3 brought the knock out rounds and a chance to see how they performed under pressure. And they did not disappoint.  The U16s won handily their first game heading to the quarter finals a few hours later.  Despite some questionable officiating, the team battled hard and came back from being down 2 goals to pull off an edge-of-our-seats win. What a feeling!  They were now heading to the semi’s on Sunday.  Our U19s won their first game of the day and advanced to the quarter finals where they suffered a tough 1-0 loss. Coaches were incredibly proud of how this relatively inexperienced group pulled together and played in this challenging tournament.

 

 

The semi-finals really showed the grit and determination of our U16s.  They were constantly coming from behind and were able to tie in regulation play, pushing us into a shootout, a first for many.   A tough loss sent us to the Bronze medal game later that day, 1423466890057where we continued to battle hard.  This was a tough one with A&C leading decisively by half time, but succumbing to the pressure as the game went on and ending with a tie, and going into sudden death play.  A heart breaker, as a goal on a stroke was called back, putting us in 4th position overall in our pool.

 

 

So incredibly proud of this entire group of athletes who played with heart from the moment they first stepped onto the field until the final whistle.  Some terrific memories: from the initial crisis of lost bags and figuring out the logistics of how to share one set of pinnies, skirts, and socks with both teams; experiencing a shootout for the first time in a high pressure game; the creation of new cheers for A&C; possible life long aversions to cold cut subs; a new addiction to multigrain bars and pickles – but not the zesty, spicy ones; ….and we’re sure many more amazing memories that have not been shared with the adults.

 

 

20150208_145533The coaching staff and managers were amazing.  This was the first time at Disney for 2 of them and they kept the athletes focused, fed, and fighting hard…and on time.  The parents were beyond amazing, stepping up and helping out however and whenever and with whatever was needed…and of course for their unfailing support and belief in their children and the Academy.

 

 

Never before had A&C made it to the Sunday games. Competing against 190 teams and making up two of the four teams from Canada they excelled as they showcased themselves to the more than 100 NCAA recruiters on the side lines.  Not even one week home and we now have some of our older athletes with Division I scholarship offers in hand and faced with the enviable task of deciding where to commit for their post-secondary education. We have been fielding phone calls all week from coaches enquiring about our younger athletes.   Win, lose, or tie…our athletes and our Academy has gotten noticed and we are excited and grateful to help make a difference in the lives of these athletes.  And we are so incredibly proud.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe are honoured to have such an amazing group of athletes and such an incredible set of families and are grateful for your trust and belief in the Academy to help your children achieve their dreams.  Thank you all for being a part of our A&C Disney Programme.

 

 

 

Posted in Academy training, Benefits of Sports, Disney, Girls in Sports, International Sports Competitions, Playing Team Sports, Self-esteem, US Scholarships | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment