The Provincial Pathway: Introducing Calder Wheatley and Jagjot Hayer
The Provincial Pathway is a series which will follow a select number of FHBC athletes on their journey from the Regional Program through to the National Championships.
A strong and steady defender and an explosive attacking midfielder, Calder Wheatley and Jagjot Hayer are both athletes to watch on the U15 Boys Provincial Teams.
Calder Wheatley protected the Eagles defensive zone with speed, skill and composure at the Train 2 Train Festival, earning himself a spot on the U15 BC Boys Lions. Field hockey is a family affair for the 15 year-old Victoria native, as both of his parents and his younger brother also play, often as teammates.
Without a U15 Boys Spring League in Victoria, Calder now plays on his dad’s men’s league team, the Victoria Rebels. Additionally, Calder and his 11 year-old brother Benjamin played on the same team for the first time at the Regional Festival this past weekend, with Benjamin competing in his first Regional tournament.
“My whole family plays, my mom and my dad,” Wheatley explained. “When I was young I would go out to the field and watch them play. My parents are good field hockey players so that’s really my motivation, to be able to play like them.”
This Provincial season will be Wheatley’s second year playing for Team BC, after competing at the National Championship with the U15 Boys Lions last July. In his third year with the Regional Program, he has the added challenge of playing out of Victoria, where the boys field hockey community is significantly smaller than is it on the Lower Mainland.
The Boys Regional Program on the island was bigger than it had been in past years, as the U15 and U18 boys all played together and they also accepted younger players to participate, including Calder’s 11 year-old brother Benjamin. However, the small group of Vancouver Island boys have the obstacle of coming over and playing with boys who have been training together all season in their Regional Program.
“It’s different for us. It would be a lot more difficult if it was only one person coming over, but there’s always been three or four,” Wheatley said of coming over for the Regional Festival. “It’s challenging, but it makes us better.”
With the upcoming National Championship Festival taking place in Ontario this year, Wheatley is excited to travel with the team and have more of a bonding experience than at last year’s National Championship which was local for most of the Team BC athletes.
“I think travelling with the team will be a good bonding experience, because last year coming here we weren’t staying in the same hotels, we were kind of separate. This time we will all be together, so I think we will bond more as a team.”
Jagjot Hayer was an offensive standout for the Raptors at the Train 2 Train Festival, with his playmaking from the center midfield and his explosive runs down the side. Hayer describes himself as a player who likes to make runs and beat several defenders, but also make good plays to his teammates.
“If I tackle the ball from someone and I see three or four people in front of me I might try to beat them, but if there’s a two on one or something I’ll usually pass it off,” Hayer explained.
The Surrey native started playing field hockey at six years old and he saw his cousins playing. With his club, the Surrey Panthers, he plays with both his own age group and the U18 boys for more training and extra competition.
Hayer has been playing with the older boys for a few years now, which is how he got involved with the Regional Program. When he heard his older teammates talking about their participation in the Regional Festival, he decided to give it a try.
“It really developed me as a player, especially as a pass-first type of player,” Hayer said of the Regional Program. “Before I used to stick my head down and try beating everyone, now I look up to the field and try looking for the first pass. I’ve met a lot of new people, a lot of good coaches and a lot of good young players.”
In his third year with the Regional Program, this will be Hayer’s second trip to the National Championships playing with the U15 BC Boys Rams. His team last year came in first place at Nationals, defeating Ontario in the Championship game.
In his final year playing with the U15 age group, Hayer’s goal is to lead his team to another National Championship gold medal, while taking a leadership role and making the players around him better. In the long term, he hopes to play for Team Canada one day.
We are excited to follow both Wheatley and Hayer through the Provincial season as they work towards bringing home a second consecutive gold medal for the U15 Boys!