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Tsawwassen field hockey star back on home turf

Sara McManus and women's national team hosting camp at Winskill Park ahead of this summer's World Cup and Commonweath Games in Europe
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Tsawwassen's Sara McManus is among Canada's all-time leaders in senior national team appearances. She will be adding to that total this summer.

Sara McManus will be back on home turf later this month as she prepares to add at least two more chapters this summer to her decorated international field hockey career.

The 28-year-old defender from Tsawwassen and her Canadian teammates will be running a camp on May 29 at Winskill Park.

For $25, players U11 to U18 will get to learn skills and tips from the country’s top players. The camp’s proceeds will help Canada’s expenses to attend the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Spain and the Netherlands — July 1 to 7. The team will then head to Birmingham, England for the Commonwealth Games, starting July 28.

“We came out and did a coaching session last year around the same time and the kids were just awesome,” said McManus. “We’ve now started these camps in the Lower Mainland. We had one in West Van last week and another one coming up in Vancouver as well.

“It’s just been like a really great way to connect with the communities that we grew up in and came from. We get to have some have fun with the kids and then it’s a little bit of a fundraiser as well for us as we're trying to reduce our levy for the World Cup.”

Having made her national team debut at just 18, the South Delta Secondary graduate ranks fifth all-time in appearances for Canada with 187 international caps. Her outstanding run very well could have ended nearly 30 months ago when Canada lost a heartbreaking 2020 Olympic qualifying series to Ireland.

Trying to reach the Summer Games for the first time since 1992, Canada battled Ireland to a pair of scoreless draws in Dublin. The series came down to a penalty shootout and Canada was a goal or a save away from advancing, however Ireland prevailed 4-3.

McManus was outstanding in anchoring Canada’s defence to a pair of shutouts and even scored in the shootout. It would seem to be the opportune time to walk away from her playing career and put her UBC degree to use, like a number of her longtime teammates did.

The pandemic would soon put everything on pause anyways. McManus resumed training then learned three World Cup berths would be on the line at the 2021 Pan American Championships. Canada had not qualified for the World Cup since 1992.

“It's usually just like, the top one or two teams that go so I was like, okay, that could happen and it was like a year out and I can do this for another year,” said McManus. “I really wanted to be there for the team and help them push towards this goal.”

Canada came through with a 1-0 victory over the United States in the bronze medal game. Since that big win in Chile last year, the national team has been based in Vancouver for training. Needing a flexible job, McManus was working at the Prado Cafe in the new Southlands community in Boundary Bay before transferring to their Fraser Street location to make commuting to practice in West Van easier.

It will be sometime later this year when she will decide if her career will extend beyond the summer and take another run at the Olympics which are two years out in Paris.

“Right now, I'm just so excited for this summer with the World Cup and Commonwealth Games. I’ll probably end up making a decision later on. But you know, Olympics have always been the goal and it’s hard to just let that go,” she added.”

Registration for the national camp can be done on the Falcons website.