Keeping a Richmond tradition alive

Coach set to depart after impressive six-year run ends with 10th place at provincials

TJ Sander made sure a Richmond high school tradition continued on for the past six years. Now he is about ready to pass the torch onto someone else.
The parent volunteer coach guided the McMath Wildcats to another berth into the B.C. Girls “AAA” Field Hockey Championships last week in Surrey where a young squad managed a 10th place finish in the 16-team event. The sport has a rich history in the city, including enough teams at one point for an all-Richmond League.
Since then, the McMath program has been determined to continue on, playing a handful of Vancouver schools to prepare for the post-season. The formula has an impressive track record with the Wildcats enjoying their best finishes at provincials in each of the past six years, highlighted by a fifth place result in 2017.
“My goal in coaching was to keep the program alive at McMath and build a tradition of excellence. I think I have accomplished that,” said Sander who followed through with his initial six-year commitment to coach. Reflecting back, every team I have coached has been special in its own way.
“It’s going to be extremely tough to walk away and I really do hope if I do end up stepping away the program stays alive at McMath. I have truly enjoyed my six years.”
Should Sander depart, he has established a core of 12 players eligible to return —  including nine in Grade 10 or younger, in what might be the biggest development this season before a game was even played. Some were playing the game for the very first time.
This made qualifying for the provincials more than just routine. McMath needed a 2-1 win over Eric Hamber to earn its spot.
“This season was a rebuilding year and seeing what we accomplished was a great feat,” continued Sander. “We had a few brand new players to field hockey at tryouts and on the the team.”
Still, the team leaned on its experience, led by captain and Team B.C. player Aish Sander. She concluded her impressive high school career by scoring seven of the Wildcats’ nine goals at provincials and was a workhorse at both ends of the park.
Samantha Trueman anchored the back end and was counted on for her leadership too.  Rounding out the graduating players are Emma Fedoruk, another solid contributor defensively and the always dependable Ellie Wan.
Leading the underclassmen was Grade 9 standout Abby Pogor who Sander describes as his “best goalie in the past six years” thanks to her many clutch saves. Grade 10 Hope Chan was counted on for her strong two-way play in midfield.
The team also leaned on the efforts of Isabella Schaffer, Sabrina Fata, Jessica Sewell-Sinclair, Chloe Sloboda, Liz Kennedy, Jamie Arrigo, Marea Forgeron, Mya Snidanko, Eva Snidanko and Tianna Nagra.

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