Brian Swane, Special to Canada West
EDMONTON – It may have been the most intense moments of Stefanie Langkammer's Canada West career – and the University of Victoria field hockey captain wasn't even in uniform.
The Vikes had concluded their 2018 regular season schedule, and sat atop the CW standings. Second-place UBC, meanwhile, still had games to play, and could yet overtake Victoria. At stake for the team finishing first was a sole berth in the U SPORTS Women's Field Hockey Championship.
On the final day of the season, UBC hosted Calgary, needing a victory by several goals. The T-Birds did indeed win, but only by one. And with that, the Vikes were Canada West champs.
"It was very nerve-wracking," Langkammer says. "Everyone was just on the edge of their seat, but it was quite an amazing feeling once they finished the game, knowing that we got the berth to nationals."
The Vikes will meet the York Lions for the McCrae Cup, Nov. 1 to 4. The best-of-three series is final time that Langkammer along with fellow fifth-years Delaney Booker, Jenna Dhillon, Kristina Walters-Shumka, and Lindsay Cole, will suit up for the Vikes.
"I'm just proud right now of where we stand," says the forward from Duncan, B.C. "I'm really proud of this team. We had a lot of rookies come in, especially this season. It's pretty awesome that the five girls who were in my rookie year are still all together, and I'm really proud of all them and everyone else on this team this year for getting us to nationals. That's a huge accomplishment."
This will be Langkammer's fourth trip to the U SPORTS Championship, a fitting finish to what has been a fantastic final season of a fabulous university career. The five-foot-six forward led Canada West with five goals in 2018, a personal best that pales in comparison to helping Victoria capture the Donna Hunt Memorial Trophy for the first time since 2015 as CW champions.
"I think over my past five years it's totally shifted from an individual mindset to a team mindset, and instead of thinking for yourself, thinking of others and the best way you can benefit others," says the UVic student-athlete, who will graduate next spring with a degree in Social Sciences and in the future plans to pursue a Master's.
"I think that's really translated into my schooling too. As much as your schooling is individual, I think you can learn a lot from other people – especially my coaches. As hard as coaches can be on you, they have really valuable lessons and I've really taken away a lot from them and my five different teams over the years."
UVic won bronze at the national championship in Langkammer's first season, then earned consecutive silver medals in 2015 and 2016. After not reaching the 2017 U SPORTS Championship, they set out anew this year, and improved steadily, getting off to an 0-0-2 start, but went 4-1-1 over their last six matches.
"Starting with the beginning of our season, everyone had the overall goal of hopefully making it to nationals, but we really did start out small," Langkammer says. "We went game-by-game, weekend-by-weekend, and our season goes by so quickly that eventually we started looking at the bigger picture, winning Canada West, and obviously that would connect to nationals."
From not even being guaranteed another game, the best now may be yet to come for Langkammer and her teammates at nationals, who look to make Victoria the U SPORTS field hockey champions for a 12th time overall and first in 10 years.
"We've looked forward to this for so long and now we're all finally realizing that it's actually becoming a reality that we're about to experience," the Vikes captain says.
"I just want everyone to be positive and hopefully we can strengthen our team bond even more, and once we're on the field just be in the moment. With everything we've worked towards, hopefully we just keep our own goals, focus on ourselves, and everything falls into place."
The #SeniorSpotlight series features stories of Canada West student-athletes who are in their final season of university competition, as they work to cap off their university athletic careers, and prepare for what's next personally and professionally.