It was the biggest surprise of her field hockey career: senior national team call ups, and two roster selections, all in the span of a few months.
Sport for Life co-op student, fourth year University of Victoria Vikes athlete and Canadian national field hockey player Anna Mollenhauer was a junior national team member going into the January 2019 tour in China alongside the senior national team. As the two rosters shared a training space, she was asked to train with the seniors on several occasions leading up to their scheduled games.
“It was very high pace and intense, so it was nerve-wracking at first but it was also a lot of fun,” Mollenhauer said of the senior practices. “I kept getting asked to go over and train with that group of seniors and I was like, ‘Okay, this is fun. I’ll keep doing it.’”
She got her first senior team call up for a game later that tour. The selections continued from there: a call up to attend training camp with the senior team in Belgium in April 2019, roster selection for the Hockey Series Final in Spain in June 2019, and finally selection to the 2019 Pan American Games roster.
Today, Mollenhauer reflects on those selections with a sense of surprise and disbelief. Though her national team place came from years of hard work and commitment, she remembers getting the good news and uttering an initial shocked response of “wait, what?”.
Those 2019 selections represent a shift into Train to Win as part of her Long-Term Development pathway — and a shift she will never forget given her commitment, love, and family connection to the sport.
Sport and physical activity have been a part of Mollenhauer’s life since before she can remember. What started as fun games in the backyard with her sister or friends, and First Involvement in field hockey at age four, grew into a diverse appreciation for sport throughout her school-age years. From there, participation in structured and unstructured play in sports like soccer, basketball, tennis, and field hockey became the routine for her at the Learn to Train stage. She simply enjoyed being outside and being active.
In high school, Mollenhauer narrowed her focus to ice hockey and field hockey, splitting time between the two sports as she progressed through the Train to Train stage, and earned her first selection to the provincial team as she went into Grade 9.
By Grade 10, Mollenhauer decided to focus primarily on field hockey; she stopped playing competitive ice hockey and transitioned into high performance field hockey, though she kept playing ice hockey recreationally with friends.
As she entered into Train to Compete, opportunities arose to join the Field Hockey Canada junior team, alongside her provincial team selection until, in those fateful months in 2019, she earned her spot on the senior national roster. Today, as she progresses through Train to Win, Anna’s ultimate goal is to play in the Olympics — just as her mom, two-time Canadian Olympian Nancy Mollenhauer, did.
It’s that strong family tie to field hockey that sits at the heart of her passion for the sport. With her mom playing high level field hockey as Mollenhauer grew up, she spent much of her childhood watching games — and picking up a stick when she could.
“I would go up and watch my mom play games and just run around on the sidelines. I would try to hold a stick and teach myself how to do random things. I just enjoyed dribbling and being out on the field,” she said.
Mollenhauer is soft-spoken, but her drive and motivation is evident. And that commitment to excellence translates into her work at Sport for Life, where she is a valued member of the Executive Services team.
“Anna has a tremendous amount of self-motivation and when there’s something in her wheelhouse, she has taken initiative on tasks that have really helped move the Executive Services Department forward in its deliverables. She’s also very detail-oriented to the point where she thinks about things and asks questions where I can really tell no detail is too small,” said Francesca Jackman, Executive Services lead and co-op manager at Sport for Life.
“She will be greatly missed when she goes back to school.”