Full circle fairytale for UVic’s field hockey legend

Lynn Beecroft said that during her tenure as a coach, she focused on having one-on-ones with players to get her message across. (Courtesy of Victoria University)
Lynne Beecroft returns to her playing days, playing for UVic and Team Canada.  (provided by Victoria University)Lynne Beecroft is back in her playing days playing for UVic and Canada. (Provided by Victoria University)
Lynne Beecroft earned her nickname “Buzz” while playing at UVic, where she was a star player from 1975 to 1979. (provided by Victoria University)
UVic had never won a national championship until Lynne Beecroft started coaching.  (Courtesy of Victoria University)UVic had never won a national championship until Lynne Beecroft started coaching. (Courtesy of Victoria University)

With such a storied coaching career, one would imagine Lynn Beecroft was always destined to be a leader. But she thinks her coaching career had a fairytale start.

The former Olympian coached Victoria University’s women’s hockey team in 1984 alongside her former teammate Nancy Mollenhauer (then Charlton).

“I’m a super shy guy, and I don’t think it’s possible for me to stand in front of a group of 16 to 20 athletes and tell them what to do,” Beecroft said.

“I think she (Mollenhauer) saw something in me that I could bring to the Vickers team, maybe they didn’t have to help them get over it because they had some really good teams, but they didn’t win the national Championship. I’m not quite sure what that means. But I think it’s going to be an opportunity. One of my goals in life is to make a difference so I can change the lives of the athletes I coach.”

She does make a difference. The UVic Vikes girls’ hockey team never won a national championship until 1984 and went on to become Canada’s best hockey team 15 times under Beecroft’s tutelage.

The Vikes women’s hockey team swept the York Lions 2-0 on Nov. 5 at UVic Hockey Field for their most recent title and fourth straight U SPORTS Women’s Hockey National Championship.

Much has changed in Beecroft’s 39 years in the dugout. Beecroft admits that the team has gone from a shoddy field to one of the best in the country.

Technology has also undergone a paradigm shift. Beecroft says it has a place in sports — she recently learned to text to keep in touch with athletes after email became obsolete — but she thinks sports in general have become too focused on screens.

“Now I watch hockey and NHL players sit on the bench and look at their iPads and wonder why they’re not doing it. To me, they’re missing the point. The point is, they’re not in the moment. So they’re not watching the actual game, And not seeing what actually happened. They’re thinking about what they’ve done in the past.”

Beecroft said she’s focused on helping players develop their intuition, teaching them skills and helping them understand their role on the team. Unlike sports movies, Beecroft’s forte isn’t standing in front of a crowd giving a grand speech. She connected with them off the field.

“There are a lot of people who will improvise and they can go on and on. I still aspire to have that ability, but it’s not in my nature, I don’t think. When I was growing up with my family, it was hard for me to be in my own kitchen Talking at the dinner table. So it’s certainly not in my nature. But I think I connect well enough with the athletes on a personal level, and then what I try to do is bring all those people together.”

During her tenure, Beecroft has coached many successful athletes – and in many cases, she has seen multigenerational hockey families play for her teams. But she said her proudest moments are seeing those she coaches put down their sticks and go on to find success outside of hockey.

“Any sport is a microcosm of life. So what we can teach them, life wise skills, they can be successful in anything outside of sport. That probably strikes me more than our success on the pitch. pride.”

Now that she’s retired, Beecroft is looking forward to some well-earned vacations, hiking and golfing with friends once the weather improves.

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