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Mark Pearson receives OLY Canada Legacy Grant to spread his love of field hockey –

Mark Pearson receives OLY Canada Legacy Grant to spread his love of field hockey –

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Written by Martin Cleary

Thirty-five years ago – roughly a month ago – the sports/fantasy film Field of Dreams came out and became a hit with the North American film community.

It grossed over $84.4 million (U.S.) at the box office at the time, which would be worth over $211.2 million today. The movie also gave us that famous quote – “If you build it, they will come.” – referring to an Iowa farmer building a baseball diamond in his cornfield.

Mark Pearson, a three-time Canadian men's field hockey player from Tsawwassen, British Columbia, before moving to Ottawa two years ago, can relate to the film. Except his field of dreams is focused on hockey, not baseball.

Its cornfield will be the historic minor league hockey turf located in the shadow of St. Michael's High School in Law, PQ., which is about 58 kilometers north of Ottawa.

From June 8th to 9th, a few dozen boys and girls will be seen walking, not through the cornstalks, but over the crest of the plateau and down into the pristine field at its site in the Gatineau Valley.

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Pearson, who is director of partnership development and corporate partnerships with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, wants to share his love of field hockey and has organized a two-day introductory clinic for youth ages 10 to 14.

After spending 17 years with the national team and representing Canada in 284 international matches, Pearson was recently selected as one of 15 former Olympians to receive an OLY Canada Legacy Grant from the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Three other athletes with connections in the National Capital Region also received grants for their non-profit initiatives – Ariane Bonhomme, Cycling Track, Tokyo 2020; Kelly Ryan, Fencing, Tokyo 2020; and Laura Locklear (with Cendrine Brown), cross-country skiing, Beijing 2022.

Jill Moffat, a rower at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, was also a scholarship recipient and is working in collaboration with three other Olympians, including track and field athlete Melissa Bishop-Nyriagu of Eganville, Ont., and one Paralympian.

“You never know when you're going to make (an application). There have been a lot of great initiatives that have been awarded to his friend/runner/cross-country skier Ce Smith from Ottawa for his 'Race to Zero Carbon Emissions' project in 2021,” said Pearson, who mentioned the grant awarded to his friend/runner/cross-country skier Ce Smith from Ottawa for his Race to Zero Carbon Emissions project in 2021. “It has been supported in the past.”

“I didn't have any expectations. I was optimistic. But I knew I had a great application. I feel lucky to be a recipient.”

Pearson received a $5,000 grant, which will allow him to bring field hockey equipment and apparel to accommodate 30 to 45 newcomers to the sport. The project is designed to “engage underserved rural communities along the Gatineau River…remove barriers to sports infrastructure and create a safe environment to learn about the sport of hockey with the goal of inspiring a love of the sport and the Olympic movement,” COC said in its press release.

Field hockey is well established in the National Capital Region with the Chelsea Phoenix, Nepean Knighthawks and Outaouais as well as 16 high school teams and several master's and intramural and intramural programs. There are between 1,500 and 2,000 players in the region.

The field hockey pre-clinic will be held at Brennan Arena, Pearson's dream field. Low's turf field was originally part of the field used for the 1999 Pan-Am Games in Winnipeg. Canada defeated Argentina 1-0 in the gold medal final to qualify for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, at this stadium.

The Brennan Field is approximately half the size of the Regulation Field at 90 meters by 55 metres.

After the Pan Am Games, the artificial turf was rolled up and stored in Toronto. Former national team member Ian Bird, former coach of Chelsea Phoenix, learned a few years ago that the turf was not being used and was able to get it delivered to its current location in the Lough.

“This is an opportunity for kids who haven't touched a stick yet to learn about the sport of hockey,” added Pearson, who said youth can attend a day or two of the clinic. “I see this as a unique opportunity to develop the sport.”

On each of the two days, Pearson will introduce the basics of hockey to athletes ages 10 to 14, who may be trying out their first sport or looking for a new one.

After lunch, he will lead a study session to talk about his hockey journey, the values ​​of the sport, the Olympic movement and what he has learned from representing Canada on the world stage.

Pearson is familiar with Brennan Stadium as he conducts a high-performance skills program for interested players once a week in the spring.

During his international career, Pearson played in three Olympics, helping Canada to a 10th-place finish in 2008, 11th-place in 2016, and 12th-place in 2020. He was Canada's top scorer at the Tokyo 2020 Games with three goals in five games.

At the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, he was Canada's second-leading scorer with six goals as he captured his third consecutive silver medal. He ruptured his Achilles tendon in the final, but a one-year delay to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic allowed him to make a full recovery for his third and final Games.

He was also part of a pair of Canadian overtime victories against Argentina (semifinal) and the United States (final) to win the 2009 Pan American Cup and qualify for the 2010 FIH World Cup.

“As a three-time Olympian, I have been close to the Olympic movement my whole life,” said Pearson, who spent much of his youth on the hockey field and began playing the sport at age 8.

Meanwhile, here are the other scholarship recipients with connections to the National Capital Region and their program introduced in a recent Canadian Olympic Committee press release:

· Ariane Bonhomme – “Pathfinders takes an anti-colonial approach to sport in order to promote Indigenous representation in cycling at both the elite and grassroots levels. By showcasing indigenous talent at the elite level, Pathfinders hopes to offer the sporting community an alternative framework for nurturing athletes in a more Safer.

· Kelly Ryan – “In collaboration with fencing clubs across Alberta, the Take Down Fences for Fencers initiative will support Indigenous communities and young girls through the financial costs of introductory fencing programs to encourage physical fitness and skill development.”

· Laura LeClair (with Cendrine Brown) – “Feminaction organizes camps, trains ambassadors and creates mentoring programs for female coaches with the aim of keeping cross-country skiing athletes at higher levels. The program is shaped by the values ​​of cohesion, participation, mutual assistance and audacity.

· Jill Moffat – “MOMentum supports Canada's elite female athletes with any family planning needs as they prepare for and recover from national team events through grants, education, mentoring from fellow athletes, and legal resources. Project in collaboration with Olympians Melissa Bishop Nyriagu (athletics), and Mandy Bujold (athletics). boxing), Kim Goucher (basketball), and Paralympian Erica Gavel (wheelchair basketball).

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A former Canadian Sportswriter of the Year and Ottawa Sports Award recipient for lifetime achievement in sports media, Martin retired from full-time work at Ottawa Citizen In 2012, but continued to write the bi-weekly “Achievers” column for Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic hit, Martin created a “Stay-Safe Edition” for standouts to provide some positive news during tough times, first via his Twitter account and now here on

Martin can be reached via email at [email protected] and above Twitter @martincleary.

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