Last summer, after living in Whistler for many years working as a ski instructor, Maria Tomaghelli started feeling the desire to play field hockey—her favourite sport to play back home in Argentina.
But with no local clubs around to join, Tomaghelli took matters into her own hands, and alongside some friends who were also interested in playing, decided to start the Whistler Field Hockey Club (WFHC).
“I didn’t know about the field in Cheakamus, and I was riding my bike and I saw it and thought, ‘wow, we need to play field hockey there,’” she said. “So we got together with some friends and we started a club last year. And coincidentally that’s when the muni started running a program in Cheakamus as well.”
According to Tomaghelli, The Resort Municipality of Whistler’s (RMOW) summer field hockey program last year—which consisted of weekly Monday night drop-in sessions for anyone who was interested—proved there was a demand for the sport in the Sea to Sky. With the RMOW’s program already running through the summer from July to October, Tomaghelli and the WFHC decided to launch their club in the winter with a weekly indoor field hockey program at Myrtle Philip Community School.
Despite having roughly 150 people show interest in the sport by joining a new WFHC Facebook group, the weekly sessions saw just 15 or so regulars coming out each week.
One of those regular participants was Ben Chapman, who grew up playing and coaching field hockey in Australia before moving to Whistler to work as a ski instructor in the winters.
According to Chapman, who spends most of his free time in the winter skiing, it was the chance to get involved with a team sport again that really got him excited to join the club.
“I do back-to-back winters (in Canada and Australia), and I guess one of the biggest things I miss from doing that is team sports. For me, through winter, the main activity is skiing or going to the pub, so having something else to do regularly every week has been really great,” said Chapman. “And branching out as well—with so few ski instructors, it can become a bit of a bubble. Being here seven years, pretty much every single one of my friends is from the snow school, so it’s kind of nice to hang out with a more diverse group of people.”
Now that the winter program is over and the club is beginning to prepare for its summer adults and kids field hockey programming, Tomaghelli is getting stoked about the possibility of sharing the sport she loves with a new generation while helping grow the game in the Sea to Sky.
“I am super excited. Being able to play this sport here in Whistler is amazing, and it’s super fun for me. And it’s also a great way to bring people together and meet other people with the same interest in the community,” she said. “On the other hand, I’m super excited to be able to run it for kids as well. I feel like there is a lot of room for another team sport in Whistler. I have had such a positive experience through this sport and being part of this sports club during my childhood all the way through my adulthood that I would like to share that with other members of the community and have kids go through the same thing hopefully as well.”
The summer kids’ program is set to start in May and will cost $75 for eight weekly sessions. The program will supply the kids with sticks, but participants will need their own protective gear like shin pads and mouth guards.
As for the adult program, participants can either choose to sign up on a month-by-month basis for $60 per month or sign up for all four months at once for $192. For those unsure if they want to commit full-time, there will also be drop-in sessions open for anyone interested in the sport.
Adults are encouraged to buy their own equipment but the club will have sticks to provide to people who don’t have one.
Registration for the summer is now open. Find more information about the club and sign up for the summer sessions at whistlerfieldhockey.com.