Nancy played on the Canadian National Women’s field hockey team from 1982 to 1989, during which time she attended two Olympic Games, two World Cups and a Pan American Games. She was both a leader and a pioneer who put her heart and soul into women’s sport at the highest level. Although a naturally gifted athlete, Nancy’s success can very much be credited to her phenomenal work ethic that had a ripple effect on all of those around her.
“She thrived in a culture of hard work as she was able to do anything she set her mind to,” said teammate, fellow Olympian and coach, Lynne Beecroft.
A versatile player, Nancy made the transition from striker, to sweeper to, finally, competing in the midfield. Her on-field intelligence, in combination with her impressive technical skills, enabled her to continue to grow and play an increasingly larger role within the national team program which she co-captained for many years. Her wit and charisma gained her the respect of her teammates. The depth of her commitment and impact on the national team program was exemplified when she was asked to be the flag bearer at the 1987 Pan American Games.
Nancy was an integral part of what is known as Canadian Women’s Field Hockey’s greatest dynasty - a team which, throughout the 1980’s, qualified for every single world-class event and medalled in many as they brought home silver and bronze medals from the 1983 and 1986 World Cups respectively.
Tenacity and perseverance are what allowed Nancy to reach the ultimate heights of her sport, but she is quick to credit those around her along the way for any success she encountered. With her trademark humour and upbeat attitude, she was - and continues to be - a role model for women in sport. She has left behind a legacy of excellence, playing for both her university and her country.
Upon retirement, Nancy sought employment as a physical education teacher at St. Michaels University School, where she is the driving force behind the field hockey program. She remains a key member of Victoria’s field hockey community as both a coach and organizer at every level of the game. She is still actively playing first division field hockey in Victoria.
In July 2015, Nancy Mollenhauer joined an elite group of Canadian field hockey players and builders, and was inducted into Field Hockey Canada’s Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class. She is married to husband, Ian, and has two field hockey playing daughters, Arden and Anna, who followed in their mother’s footsteps.
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“Legendary” is not an adjective to be used lightly, but it is highly appropriate when speaking of international rowing coach and former Rowing Canada Head Coach, Mike Spracklen.
Born and raised in England, Mike’s first major success was in coaching the Great Britain double scull to silver in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. Between 1977 and 1989, he went on to produce medal-winning rowers for Great Britain at six World Championships, the 1984 Olympics (their first gold medal since 1948), and the 1988 Olympics. His services to British rowing were recognized with the Order of the British Empire in 1989.
Following the 1989 Worlds, Rowing Canada brought Mike to Canada and the training centre at Victoria’s Elk Lake where, over the next four years, he worked with rowers such as Silken Laumann and Derek Porter. Under Mike’s tutelage, Canada won one gold and three silver medals through the 1990 and 1991 World Championships. Following Silken’s horrific injury just prior to the 1992 Olympics, Mike worked with her for 10 weeks, resulting in her bronze medal to go with the gold for the Canadian men’s eight. In 1993, Mike received the Meritorious Service Cross from the Canadian government.
After four years in Victoria, Mike was contracted by the USA, where he coached the American men’s eight to medals at the 1993, 94 and 95 Worlds. Both Silken and Derek moved to the US to continue training under Mike. After stroking the Canadian men’s eight to gold in 1992, Derek turned to single sculling and the following year became world champion. Under Mike’s program, both Derek and Silken won silver for Canada at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
After the 1996 Olympics, Mike returned to Great Britain as the Women’s National Coach. His rowers took four medals over the 1997 and 1998 Worlds, and he was voted 1998 UK and England Coach of the Year by the National Coaching Foundation. At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, his women’s quadruple sculls earned the first Olympic medal ever for the British women, a silver.
Following this success, Mike returned to Elk Lake as the Men’s National Coach, a position he continued to hold through the 2012 London Olympics. During his second tenure in Victoria, Mike’s crews accumulated 12 World and Olympic medals, including the famous Beijing gold for the men’s eight. He continued to gather honours: 2002 International Rowing Federation Coach of the Year, 2004 Spirit of Sport Foundation Coach of the Year, and the 2007 Petro-Canada Coaching Excellence Award.
In late 2012, Mike again returned to England. He accepted an offer from the Russian Rowing Federation to coach their men’s eight although, unfortunately, they had undergone insufficient testing outside Russia and so did not compete in Rio de Janiero. After 40 years of coaching at Olympic level and his 79th birthday, Mike has retired but it is doubtful that his coaching record will ever be equaled. Yes, indeed … the definition of “legendary” might just be “Mike Spracklen.”
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