Looking at children enjoying sports on the North Shore's playing fields, it's easy to forget that it takes hours of hard work by dedicated volunteers to make it all happen. Many local clubs have made developing talented youngsters a priority and helped propel them to major regional, national and international competition to represent their province and their country.
Local field hockey and rugby clubs are prime examples of committed community sports groups making a big impact.
The West Vancouver Field Hockey Club Adanacs is a very successful player development program for junior field hockey players. The program was started in 2005 and was called Adanacs in memory of Ross Rutledge who passed away in 2004. Ross Rutledge started taking teams called "Adanacs" to the US Field Hockey Festival in 1995 and helped many junior field hockey players achieve success at universities in Canada and the USA. The new field at Ambleside is named in his memory.
In addition, many of the participants have gone on to play at Provincial and National level.
Anna Kozniuk is an Adanacs graduate and in 2008, at the age of 16, was invited to join the Senior Canadian National Field Hockey team and has toured to Ireland, Bermuda, Russia, Chile and Argentina with the team.
Taylor Curran, another Adanacs product, has competed in the Canadian National Championships every year since 2005. He was selected in 2009 Canadian Senior Men's Field Hockey team for the tour to Russia and has since earned over 25 starts, more than any other junior player. He has also competed in Australia and was the youngest player named to the national team roster for competition in the 2010 World Cup in Delhi, India.
The Capilano Rugby Club has also made a huge difference in lives of young athletes purely for the love of the sport. The club runs teams from kindergarten to U-17 and attracts hundreds of boys and girls.
Working with Rugby Canada, the Capilanos offer resources to help both players and coaches develop and improve. Coaches volunteer on local club and school teams and help kids discover the exhilaration of this fastpaced sport.
Capilano's Mandy Marchuk was named Female Player of the Year in 2008, 2009 and 2010 by the BC Rugby Union. She has represented Canada in rugby competition around the world and was captain of the Canadian Women's Sevens team that defeated the Americans 14-5 in the USA Sevens tournament final on February 12, 2012 in Las Vegas.
Jason Marshall, a Carson Graham graduate and outstanding youth member of the Capilano Club, has gone on to play for the BC Bears and represent Canada on the National team since 2008, playing in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Today he plays professionally in France.
These players and clubs are just a few examples of successful North Shore youth sports development. From the mountain tops to the ocean and everywhere in between, North and West Vancouver athletes are increasingly among the best in the world.
The next time you see a team car wash, bake sale or fundraiser, stop and help out. We're all better for it.