Canada’s Olympic field hockey team could boast nine T-Birds: (L to R) Mark Pearson, Scott Tupper, Philip Wright, Marian Schole, David Jameson, Anthony Wright and David Carter - photo by Eugene Lin
UBC Reports | Vol. 54 | No. 7 | Jul. 3, 2008
T-Birds Soar on Field Hockey Team
By Basil Waugh
Before Canada created a national sports program, university teams donned the maple leaf for the Olympics. There were two UBC rowing teams at the 1958 Melbourne Games alone -- one bringing home UBC’s first Olympic gold medal, another winning silver.
While this varsity tradition has largely fallen by the wayside, tell that to Canada’s men’s Olympic field hockey team. With as many of nine UBC Thunderbirds expected on the squad, they will form nearly half of the team.
“Making the Olympics is like our Stanley Cup,” says Anthony Wright (defense), who hopes to be joined by his brother Philip (forward) on the Vancouver-based team. “I’ve been thinking about it since I was five, so it is a dream come true.”
Also expected in Beijing are fellow T-Birds Mark Pearson (forward), David Jameson (midfielder) Marian Schole (midfielder), Scott Tupper (defense), David Carter (goal) and former T-Birds Mike Mahood (goal) and Connor Grimes (forward). Most have played together since they could first hold a stick, introduced to the sport by parents or siblings in Vancouver’s tight-knit field hockey community.
“We have played together so long that we are all kind of like brothers,” says Tupper, who has played with the Wrights since grade school, and recently recovered from having his eye socket broken by an errant stick. “By now, we know where each other is going to be on the field.”
Playing for UBC (and former Canadian Olympic) coach Shiaz Virjee, the T-Birds have racked up an impressive record, not losing a Vancouver Men’s Field Hockey Premier Division game since 2005.
More recently, UBC’s players have helped Canada do what no men’s field hockey team has done since 2000: qualify for the Olympics. While it would take a major upset over the sports’ superpowers -- Australia, Pakistan and Holland -- for Canada to medal, Anthony Wright is excited to hit the pitch in Beijing.
“This gets Canada’s foot in the door, and gives us an opportunity to play at the highest level,” he says. “It is a great step and we are very excited to be involved.”
For more on UBC field hockey and the Wrights, who are third-generation Olympians, see the May 1, 2008 article of UBC Reports: Getting to Beijing the Wright Way.