Former York University field hockey head coach named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

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Former York University field hockey head coach and School of Kinesiology & Health Science faculty member Marina van der Merwe was announced as part of the 2015 induction class for Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame on April 22.

Van der Merwe is a Canadian legend in field hockey, and becomes the first individual representing the sport to be inducted into the country’s Hall of Fame.

She was the head coach of York’s field and indoor hockey teams from 1971 to 1999, guiding the field hockey team to six Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union (CIAU) silver medals, two CIAU bronze medals and seven Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championships. She also led the indoor hockey team to seven OUA titles. She is a two-time recipient of the CIAU coach of the year award, one that is now named in her honour, and a three-time winner of the OUA award.

“Being named made me re-live the best years of my life,” she said April 22 after the official announcement. “It was just a very emotional, happy, surprising award.”

For nearly 20 years, van der Merwe was also the head coach of the Canadian women’s national team, overseeing a tenure that is widely regarded as the pinnacle of field hockey for Canada on an international level. While sitting at the helm of the program, the team competed at three Olympic Games (1984, 1988, 1992), six World Cups between 1983 to 1994 and three Pan Am Games (1987, 1991, 1995). Thanks to her leadership, the women’s national team was the highest-ranked summer sport team in the country, male or female, and became one of Canada’s most impressive team sport success stories as she created an international powerhouse.

She will be officially inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony on Oct. 21, 2015, in Calgary and will enter the Hall alongside speed skater Susan Auch, ice hockey players Paul Coffey and Daniel Goyette, para-swimmer Michael Edgson, judoka Nicolas Gill, cross-country skiers Sharon and Shirley Firth, freestyle skier Jennifer Heil, soccer player Craig Forrest, cyclist Lori-Ann Meunzer and golfer Jocelyne Bourassa.

Additionally, van der Merwe is also part of the inaugural class for Field Hockey Canada’s Hall of Fame, and she will be honoured for that at a ceremony to be held during the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.