Former Fanshawe athletes to represent Team Canada in ball hockey championships
Credit: PAT MILLINGTON PHOTO PROVIDED BY PAT MILLINGTON; NATASHA KING AND DANIELLE BAILEY PHOTO PROVIDED BY DANIELLE BAILEY
Former Fanshawe athlete and coach Pat Millington along with Natasha King (far right) and Danielle Bailey (Middle) and Rachael Tricker (not pictured) will represent Team Canada's men's and women's ball hockey teams at the World Ball Hockey Federation (WBHF) World Championships in Litomerice, Czech Republic in June 2017.
According to a March 17 Fanshawe Athletics press release, the National Ball Hockey Association of Canada (NBHAC) selected three former members of Fanshawe’s 2013-2015 women’s hockey program, including goalie Danielle Bailey and defence Natasha King and Rachael Tricker.
Former Fanshawe men’s hockey player and coach Pat Millington will join Team Canada’s men’s program as a forward.
“This team is comprised of highly talented, dedicated and diverse players led by an experienced, passionate and motivated coaching staff,” Cindy Horton, NBHAC’s general manager said in regards to the women’s team in a March 5 news release. “Each player has been selected for their athleticism, ball hockey skills, but most importantly for their character they display on and off the floor. When a group of players come together, combining each of these attributes…we have the components for a championship team.”
According to the news release, head coach Mario Facciuolo shared similar positive thoughts.
“Players of this team were brought together because they each bring a unique set of skills and expertise to the team. We are confident that they will indeed represent Canada well in the Czech Republic.”
Horton said the plan of the tournament is for the team to have an “experience of a lifetime” while bonding and making friends.
“We have a coaching staff that is second to none with a strong team of support staff, ensuring that as a team we are focused on two things. To be living the dream and to bring home gold,” Horton said.
One of the team’s goalies, Danielle Bailey is no stranger to the championships, having previously played in the 2013 and 2015 tournaments.
“It’s awesome. Third year in a row, it’s a great program to play for and it’s always such an honour to represent your country regardless,” Bailey said.
Since four new players joined the roster this year, Bailey said inclusivity is a key focus point for the team.
“Bringing the team together [and] making everybody a family and having a good when we’re down there and regardless if we win or not, it will be a good experience to head to Europe and get to experience that with present and past players,” Bailey said.
The fact that the championships are in Europe this year is a new and exciting experience for Bailey, though she’s also interested in seeing how other teams have developed over the years as well.
“It’s always an honour to represent your country. I love the game of ball hockey and I’ve been playing since I was a kid and it never gets old being selected, whether you know you’re going to be or not. It’s just nice being able to literally be on [the team] and go to these different places and meet all these people and play the game that you love with so many different people.”
According to Bailey, the women had training camp back in November 2016, but will have some upcoming practices and team meet and greets before the championships come around.
Bailey said because games can be unpredictable, mentally preparing herself is the best thing she can do for the tournament.
If there’s one that Bailey is certain about for representing Canada in the championships, it’s that it means everything to her.
“I’m sure every kid, whether you’re a boy or a girl, always wants to be able to play in the Olympics or play something like that, but to be able to do it in a sport that even not many people know about is still great,” Bailey said.
Millington, who first played for Team Canada in 2015, has “very” high hopes for the men’s team as they head into the championships.
“ [I’m] pretty excited. It’s the second time I’ve gone so I know what to expect. The fact that now that I know what it’s all about, I feel like I will be more comfortable playing,” Millington said.
Millington, who’s been keeping his cardio up and dry training and running for months said this year’s team will be full of new players, specifically younger men, which will help the team be faster and more running based.
Though Millington will be a player in this tournament, the fact that he has prior coaching experience at Fanshawe allows him to connect with coaches and understand what they want from him.
“Being on both sides of it, coaching and [being] a player you see the game differently,” Millington said.
According to Millington, he still gets nervous before games in general, but once the first period is over, he tends to get into the zone and doesn’t pay attention to anything around him but the sport.
Going into the championships, Millington said these games will be different from playing in a local community, due to the kind of competition there is, but it’s all about adaptation and moving forward.
Overall, Millington said he’s feeling “pretty good” about the upcoming champions.
“I feel honoured. The fact that I’ve played ball hockey all my life and this is the highest level you can get to, I’m pretty happy that I’m able to represent Canada,” Millington said.