Upper Canada College Upper School history teacher Fiona Marshall is an avid runner who uses her knowledge and abilities to coach the cross-country team. But her stamina from that sport also gave her an edge as a member of the Withrow Knights, which captured the bronze medal at the Masters World Ball Hockey Championships in Tampa, Fla. earlier this month.
The team competed in the over-35 age category against Team Canada (which is comprised of the best female players from across the country), two teams from the United States and Team Slovakia. The only community-based squad among the five opened with a narrow 1-0 loss to eventual gold medal winner Team Canada, shut out Team Slovakia 5-0, fell 3-0 to eventual silver medalist Team USA Blue and bounced back with a 1-0 victory over Team USA Red in the preliminary round. It defeated Slovakia 3-1 and USA Red 2-0 in the playoffs to take third place.
Marshall calls the one-goal loss to Team Canada “an incredible experience. They were at least 10 years younger than us and certainly much more experienced and individually skilled. Our team average is about 48 and we only have two players under 40.”
Marshall took up the sport two years ago because her children were involved in it at Withrow Park in Toronto’s Riverdale neighbourhood, and she plays right wing on the third or fourth lines for the Knights. She claims to be less skilled than some of her teammates, many of whom have been playing for years and also play ice hockey, but is called an “energy player” by her coach.
Marshall was surprised to be asked to try out for the local all-star team and even more so to make it, and was thrilled when the Knights won the provincial championships that qualified it as the community entrant for the world championships. The team practised about five hours a week and played in several tournaments through the summer, while each member was also put on a fitness regimen and monitored by the team’s physiotherapist.
Even though everyone was in great shape, Marshall still didn’t expect to come home with a medal. But she played a key role in making sure that the team did.
“I was put on to kill the last two minutes of every game when we were up at the worlds, including the final, which was one of the highlights of my sporting life,” Marshall says.
“It was a great experience. Really, I’m so grateful that the school supported me enough to let me have this experience. I want to thank the administration for being so supportive and for the boys for being really supportive and encouraging also.”
You can read more about the Knights’ journey to the world championships in this Toronto Star article.