Growth Setback and Transitions with Scott Sandison
Scott’s story begins with childhood memories watching his parents playing field hockey at the elite level. Sandison grew up around the game, and later adopted it as his own, representing Canada at the highest level as an Olympian, internationally renowned teammate, and now influential coach for upcoming young field hockey players.
THE EARLY YEARS
Like many young kids growing up in Canada, Scott took part in a host of different sports including soccer and baseball. He describes himself as a typical Canadian kid with lots of energy, taking to sport and the opportunity to be active and part of a team. However, there was one major exception to his story, he grew up admiring his parents, both elite field hockey players. At the age of 10 his father created a junior team; his time spent watching his parents excel from the sidelines, transitioned to being coached by his father and taking his enjoyment of field hockey to the next level.
TRANSITIONING TO ELITE
When he was 14, Scott made an under 18 elite team, the junior national team. He describes the moment humbly as, “I was 14 and the last guy picked, but what an experience!”.
This experience exposed him to older, stronger athletes and a new faster version of the game he loved. It was soon after the experience with the junior national team that he began realizing, “... hey I might have a chance to really do something with this!”.
Scott’s journey to the Olympic Games in Beijing wasn’t without setbacks (some pretty epic ones). Early in his development, after graduating from junior to senior level competition, he describes the surprise of not being chosen for the senior national team as an initial disappointment, but “one of the best things that could’ve happened to me”. Perspective is a powerful thing, and for Scott a newfound focus and appreciation of how hard it was to “make it” to the top grounded him and redefined his approach.
Perhaps, one of Scott’s best stories also comes from a setback, a jaw injury. During competition leading up to the Beijing Olympics, Scott was in Spain and took a shoulder to his exposed jaw, causing his jaw to fracture in 3 places. What ensued after the three fractures, was a custom mask, head shield, and ultra stiff two sided mouthguard to protect him from further injury. Breathing was a challenge, but nonetheless Scott had a new story and an intimidation factor on the field.
Scott endured nearly 5 years on the national team where Team Canada was consistently finishing with “almost” to describe their performance. As a national team member since 2002, and active competitor prior, he would have to wait until 2008 to see his Olympic dream come true.
THE BIG MOMENT
Things don’t often happen as planned, and that was definitely the lead-up to the 2008 Pan American qualifier for the 2008 Olympic Games for Sandison. He remembers his purpose and confidence fleeting at times, as the team sought to breakthrough a series of disappointing results. Nonetheless, they endured, and for Scott and the rest of the Team Canada squad the big moment came against Argentina (a consistent rival in the Americas). Down a goal with less than a minute remaining in the deciding match, Canada scored to force overtime and later shootouts would ensue. Things don’t get much more dramatic, and in the shootout Canada prevailed securing a spot at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
TRANSITION TO COACHING
Scott retired “twice formally” he jokes, in 2010 and 2012 (after a brief stint to try and help the team qualify for London 2012 Olympic Games). As he transitioned from the sport, he took a role with the organization Right to Play, and also began to direct his passion for field hockey towards coaching.
When I asked him what he liked most about coaching, it was a quick a straightforward answer, “I love seeing kids learn and improve”.