Second-year women’s field hockey goalkeeper Larissa Piva joined the UVic varsity team with extensive experience in competitive sports. In high school, Piva was the goalkeeper for her school’s provincial bronze medal-winning soccer team. She also won a provincial gold medal in wrestling and sampled many other sports including volleyball, kickboxing, and karate.
“With wrestling, in my last year, I did win provincials and that was pretty cool. I guess not a lot of people accomplish that at the high school level,” said Piva. With a wide sampling of sports to consider, Piva got a late start playing field hockey. Regardless, UVic approached her in grade 11 to consider joining varsity.
“Here, a lot of people are athletes. I feel like I have a little catching up to do compared to my other teammates because I only started playing field hockey in grade 10 and some of them have been playing since they were 12 or 13, so I feel like I’m just a little behind.”
When asked about her most recent game, going head to head with the UBC Thunderbirds, Piva responded, “UBC’s really tough. They have several senior national team players and junior national team players, but our team is tough too.”
Piva only surrendered two goals to the powerhouse Thunderbirds, earning her Canada West Third Star honours for the week of Sept. 22.
“I like the feeling of saving the ball,” Piva said. “[It’s] kind of crazy getting shot at. It’s exhilarating.” Though a thrilling position for Piva, goalkeeping is also a high-pressure role. When asked how she handles it, Piva said, “I just take the nerves and the pressure and turn it into mental focus. If you get scored on you just gotta brush it off and can’t let it get to you. It’s a mental game.”
This calm response extends past field hockey and into Piva’s academic life at UVic. Currently working toward a double major in political science and creative writing, with a minor in Italian, Piva has her work cut out for her.
“It’s really hard [to balance school and field hockey]. Every day that we practice or play, it takes at least four hours, and [on] weekends you travel [so] it’s hard to do work,” Piva said. “It’s a lot of work and when you win, you play well, or get better, [and] you feel like you’re accomplishing something for yourself.”
Though Piva is uncertain of her athletic future, sports are certain to remain a part of her life. “I’ll probably always play soccer for sure,” she said. “When I’m done school and field hockey, I’ll have more time to do that, but I’ll probably join women’s league teams or maybe a premier league team if I can.”
Piva also intends to continue her education after her undergraduate degree at UVic. “I was thinking of going into law, but I don’t know which section yet,” said Piva. “I really want a PhD.”
Piva helped the Vikes to earn a pair of 1-1 draws against UBC over the weekend. Backstopped by Piva, the Vikes are yet to lose a game this season and currently boast a record of 2-0-2. Their next game is on Oct. 4 against the University of Calgary Dinos.