Vikes field hockey star makes international debut

Sports Sports | Lifestyle Uncategorized

Photo by Larissa Piva, Contributing Writer

Anna Mollenhauer, a second-year women’s field hockey defender, had an exceptional season with the Vikes and simultaneously launched her career with the Canadian senior national team.

The 20 year-old athlete catches the eye of anyone who watches her play. This year, she claimed the Canada West third star of the week and USport’s Player of the Year (an honour that has not been awarded to a Vikes athlete since 2005), and she’s also nominated for UVic’s Female Athlete of the Year award. Her field hockey team’s season was a resounding success, as they were the first UVic Women’s Field Hockey team to become national champions since 2008, defeating the York Lions 2-0. Mollenhauer was crucial in the backline as a powerful component on penalty corners, leading the team to victory despite her second-year status.

Mollenhauer is a junior national athlete for Canada who regularly tours the world with the team when school and her varsity schedule allow it. However, at the beginning of 2019, she was called to aid the senior national team in their recent tour in China and earned her first cap for premiering internationally.

“It was kind of surreal because I had thought, kind of dreamt, about getting my first cap,” said Mollenhauer. “But for one I didn’t think it was going to happen this soon, and for two I never would have expected it to happen in China of all places.

“It was really cool because my mom was there because she was the manager — that was really special.”

Even though Mollenhauer couldn’t play the first game due to injury, she persevered and made an astounding career opener. Mollenhauer’s legacy is just starting, but the road to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics isn’t out of the question for this young hockey star. Canada needs to perform well at the International Hockey Federation Hockey Series in Spain and the Pan American Games to qualify for 2020, but their current wins and performances against high ranking teams suggest the program is gaining international momentum.

“On the path that [the senior national team is] on, I think they can qualify,” said Mollenhauer. “In the past year, they’ve gotten good results against the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, and China, who are all in the top 10. It’s the most potential they’ve had to go to the games in a while.”

The prominence of her mother, Nancy Mollenhauer, — the current manager for the senior national team, a two-time Olympian, and field hockey Canada and UVic Hall of Fame inductee— creates a large conversation regarding Anna’s role in leading the next generation of Canadian hockey excellence. However, it is clear from talking to either of the Mollenhauers that Anna’s journey is her own and Nancy will step down when Anna takes a spot on the national team.

“If it does happen for me, playing with the senior team, she would step away from it because she wants it to be my thing and not both of our thing, if that makes any sense,” said Anna.

While Mollenhauer doesn’t anticipate she will be named on the 2020 roster if Canada qualifies, it is a possibility.

“It’s been a dream of mine to go to the Olympics ever since I was little,” said Mollenhauer. “It would be ideal to go to the Olympics, obviously, but it’s not expected… If it doesn’t happen this time around, then it’s not going to crush all my hopes and dreams because I will only be 20 years old and there will be 2024 and 2028.”

While the goal for any serious athlete is to be an Olympian, Mollenhauer still wants to do well in school and help the Vikes squad defend their title.

“Our incoming recruit class has a lot of talent which is very exciting,” she said. “It will be a huge change without our five seniors, but I think with hard work and teamwork we always have a chance at the title, no matter how young the team is.”

Balancing national and varsity commitments is a daunting task for anyone, but Mollenhauer is optimistic that her future with Canada and the Vikes will be rewarding, no matter the workload.