Four years ago, Jackson Romeril decided to give field hockey a shot.
He was influenced by his sister Madison, who plays for Western University in Ontario.
Since then, the OHA Edmonton Bantam Prep defenceman has played for Field Hockey Alberta, and is now getting a chance with Field Hockey Canada (FHC).
Romeril sees a correlation between hockey and field hockey.
“The sports benefit each other,” says Jackson, 14. “You need to be physically adapt to play field hockey. Running up and down the field, coordination, ball skills and stickhandling.”
Since he started playing, Romeril has become a better player in both sports. Along with improved fitness, the other benefits have been better hand-eye coordination, quick reads and react, recognizing open space, teaching movement to the ball/puck and cultural interactions.
Being in the Futures Program has helped Romeril with his relationship and social skills.
“Definitely trying new sports is a good idea. My conditioning has gone up a lot,” says Romeril.
Playing multiple sports has helped Romeril meet people. It has also helped in other areas.
“You have that growth in that physical fitness, mental fitness,” he adds.
Balancing the two sports only gets tricky in the spring, but support from coaches makes it work.
Including Madison, the rest of Jackson’s family and coaches have been influential in his field hockey development.
The men’s national program has various levels, one is Futures (U16), which is where Romeril is and falls under the category of NEXTGEN Athletes. These athletes are five to eight years out of a podium finish at major games.
“It’s a real honour,” says Romeril, of being part of the Futures Program. “There are not many kids that get chosen to that. Especially at my age.”
At 14, Romeril won the “Tournament 11” most valuable player award, that is normally won by 15-year-olds.
Romeril’s success led to him being contacted by FHC saying he would be eligible for the Futures Program next year. A season ending injury to a player bumped up the timeline to this season. He was given an exception to join the team for a U.S.A Tour Nov. 23-29. It was exciting news for Romeril, who was nervous about the tour, but also looked forward to the experience.
Romeril’s OHA Edmonton coach Sean Beissel says he’s impressed with what the athlete has accomplished.
“I think it’s an awesome accomplishment for a young athlete to represent his country, or his region or province at any level for any sport,” he says. “I think it’s an awesome opportunity. I’m excited for him to experience it.”
In the last two years, Beissel has seen change in Romeril’s physique and says it can be attributed to growing, but the multi-sport dynamic.
“He’s a very fun kid. He has got a great personality, a bit quirky,” says Beissel. “He is well liked by his teammates. He works hard and he is showing growth and development in his game.”