© Submitted photo
Fellow Islander Katie Baker coaching under-18 team
Go east, young woman.
That’s the rallying cry for Pownal’s Abbey MacLellan, who is in Holland to play in a field hockey showdown with teams from Germany, India, Kazakhstan and the host country.
She is part of an under-18 squad from the Rob Short Field Hockey Academy in B.C. showcasing itself at the 2014 world youth field hockey tournament in the European country.
The tournament is a component of the larger Rabobank hockey World Cup 2014 in the Hague.
The under-18 squad plays exhibition games to Wednesday and then plays Saturday and Sunday in the tournament.
“It’s a really good opportunity. I’m a little nervous, but excited at having the opportunity,” said MacLellan before heading to Holland. “I’m going to enjoy the experience.
“They might trash talk a little bit, but I won’t understand what they’re saying. It should be a high level, for sure.”
MacLellan, who also excels at track and equestrian events isn’t a random pickup for the squad.
The 16-year-old forward and Grade 11 student at Charlotetown Rural has spent many hours training at Short’s academy in Vancouver before trying out for the national junior development squad.
Short is a former Canadian senior national men’s field hockey player and captain and spent 14 years playing pro field hockey in Europe.
His academy staff employs, among other ex-Team Canada members, Argyle Shore native Katie Baker, a former captain of the national senior women’s team and veteran of over 100 international games.
Baker is coaching the academy’s under-18 entry in Holland and sees potential in MacLellan.
“Abbey is very fast, has great stick skills and knows how to score. The challenge for Abbey will be to play her own game and continue to rely on her great instincts, despite being at the youth tournament in the middle of a huge event,” Baker wrote in an email. “When she joined the group, she fit right in skill-wise and would always take things home to work on while in P.E.I. She works incredibly hard and it’s doing great things for her."
Baker, who has been at the academy since early 2013, is a bit of a rookie this time. It’s her first gig behind the bench.
“During my playing career I did a lot of guest coaching and individual work with younger players. This is basically my first time coaching at a team level, and have been coaching with the academy since last spring,” she said. “The challenge for me is in relaying tactics and strategy without actually being on the field playing with the team.”
As for the junior development team, MacLellan is on the short list and goes to final tryouts later this year in B.C. That group is targeting the junior World Cup in 2015.
“I really want to make that. I really want to be on that team,” she said.
The world youth tournament also has divisions in male and female under-16, and under-12 and under-14 male and female.