Nora, Arden and Stella Goddard-Despot all representing Canada this Spring
Even in the tight-knit community of Canadian field hockey, it’s not everyday you get siblings that reach the international stage. In the case of Nora, Stella and Arden Goddard-Despot, all three of the sisters are in the National pipeline and all three are representing their country this spring. Nora, the eldest, took part in last week’s senior national carding camp, Arden, the middle is in Barbados playing at the 2023 Junior Pan American Championships and the youngest, Stella, is off to France with the U18 National Team. We caught up with the sisters and picked their brains about pre-game rituals, playing on Team Canada and what it’s like to play hockey in a family of high achievers.
What was it like growing up playing field hockey together as sisters? Did you ever compete against each other in a particularly intense game or tournament?
Nora: Growing up together playing hockey has been such a cool experience. Arden and Stella have been at a hockey pitch for as long as I’ve been playing. The three of us are naturally very competitive, so playing together and against each other has always been fun but challenging. Growing up whenever we were goofing around playing soccer or field hockey, games quickly turned from some friendly competition into a battle for first. It was always really fun and I think the competitiveness that the three of us have has really helped us respectively become better players.
Arden: It was very different, I was mostly known as Nora’s little sister for a long time. But it was enjoyable because if I needed advice or support I know I could go to Nora and ask for it. I mostly played with Nora because of our age, Nora’s club team often needed players so I would play up with her which was fun. When Nora or Stella and I play against each other it’s very very competitive, I remember playing Nora in nationals one year and it was one of the most intense games I have played because whenever Nora got the ball I immediately tackled her, it got very heated and after the game ended, Nora and I rewatched it, arguing if a foul she committed was bad or not. If you ask any coach they will tell you there is a big discussion on who is the fastest Goddard-Despot.
Stella: Luckily for them, I never got to play against Nora and Arden in games because of our age gaps, if we had I would have crushed them both. Whenever we are at practice together I always try to go up against them and make them embarrassed that their little sister can dribble past them. At 11 years old I was playing up with both my sister’s club teams and I got to play with both of them which I think helped me get to where I am in my field hockey career. I grew up watching my sister’s field hockey games and practices and I remember constantly wanting to learn everything that they did even though I couldn’t even hold my stick properly. I owe a lot to both my sisters and parents for pushing and letting me play with older age groups, without it I don’t think I would be where I am.
Stella, as the youngest sister, how does it feel to be following in your older sisters’ footsteps and joining the U18 national team at such a young age?
Personally, I love having both my sisters in the program. I can come to them for advice and learn from their own experiences. Following Nora and Arden motivates me to push myself to reach my potential and makes me a bit more competitive with them. However, at times it’s also very scary being the younger sister because of expectations people might have and how I need to live up to both of their accomplishments.
Arden, as the middle sister, what lessons have you learned from your older sister’s experiences on the national team that you plan to apply to your own game?
What I learned from my older sister is that I will play my best when I am having fun. Nora has also taught me how to stay level-headed on the field. She also taught me the importance of being a good teammate because Nora is one of the most caring people I have met so she taught me how to be a good teammate on and off the field.
Nora, as the eldest, how does it feel to see your younger sisters representing Canada on the international stage?
It makes me so incredibly proud of them and also so thrilled for them to get to see them competing at this level. They have both worked so hard to get here and being able to watch them play and have success is incredible. Playing at the Junior World Cup with Arden was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I remember when we were lining up to sing the anthem before our first game of the tournament and I looked next to me and there was Arden! It’s one of those moments that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
If you could switch places with any other athlete for a day, who would it be and why?
Nora: My first sport that I played was soccer so I would pick Christine Sinclair. She was such a huge role model to me growing up just based on the way she played and how talented she is. I still really look up to her and the Canadian Women’s Soccer team with the work they’ve done and are doing for gender equality in sports.
Arden: I would trade places with Christine Sinclair because she is a very talented soccer player and soccer was the other spot that I found fun and played when I was younger so it would be cool to be someone so successful, experienced, and influential in sport.
Stella: I think I would trade places with Ghislaine Landry. She is an insanely talented Canadian rugby 7s player. Even after two years of her being retired, she is still the all-time leading point scorer in World Rugby Sevens Series.
What advice would each of you give to aspiring young field hockey players who hope to one day play for their country?
Nora: As cheesy as it sounds I think believing in yourself is crucial. It’s something that I’ve had to learn over the years and still struggle with. It’s important to remember that there will be setbacks and bumps in the road along the way. Having confidence in yourself allows you to pick yourself up and continue going forward.
Arden: what I have learned is that everyone has a different path to playing for Canada, there is no direct line, it’s a zig-zag and it’s different for everyone so don’t compare your journey to other people, work hard and have fun and if you push through adversity you will succeed in your goal.
Stella: For me, the biggest part of playing at a high level is always remembering how much I love this sport. If I’m not enjoying it and am dreading going to a game or practice, it’s good sometimes to take a step back and remind yourself why you love playing field hockey and what goals you want to achieve.
Stella, what are you most looking forward to about your upcoming matches against France?
I’m most excited to play against another international team and get more experience! We have had quite a lot of zoom calls as a team and I’m super excited to get to know the girls more in person and make more connections. And of course, the opportunity to go to France.
Arden, what are your goals for the Junior Pan American Championships, and how are you and your team preparing for the tournament?
My biggest goal and the whole team’s goal is to qualify for the world cup. I also just want to gain experience from this tournament and enjoy the high level of field hockey with an amazing group of athletes. I feel very confident going into this tournament because of the level of skill on the team and the team culture is very good, we all get along very well and have good on-field connections.
Nora – You attended the WNT identification camp. What are you hoping to get out of this experience and what are the next steps in your playing career?
I’m hoping to make the team and learn as much as I can from the women and the coaches in this environment. It’s always been my dream to play for the national team so that would be what I’m aiming to do in the future.
Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions that you follow before a big match?
Nora: Usually before a game I take some time to write down my goals for the game, review any notes I have and take some time to get in the right headspace. I like to use a certain hairstyle, wear a lucky necklace and I have a playlist with music I listen to.
Arden: Nora has made me very superstitious so I have a lot but some of my main rituals are getting my hair braided before a game, journaling, and listening to music.
Stella: It usually depends on the tournament I’m in and then I start to get superstitious. I prefer to have my braided and it’s even better if Nora braided my hair. I also like to wear a necklace that all three of us have.
RAPID FIRE ROUND
Among the three of you, who is the most likely to forget their equipment before a game?
N – Stella
A – Stella
S – Stella
Who is the most likely to show up to practice with mismatched socks?
N – Arden
A – Arden
S – Arden
Who is the most likely to break out into a spontaneous dance party in the locker room
N – Arden
A – Arden
S – Arden
Who is the most likely to belt out a karaoke tune during team bonding activities?
A – Arden
A – Arden
S – Arden
Who is the most likely to come up with a hilarious nickname for a teammate?
N – Stella
A – Stella
S – Nora
Among the three of you, who is the most likely to get lost on the way to a game or practice?
N – Me I have gotten lost many times before
A – Nora or Arden
S – Arden and Nora they are both very bad at directions
Who is the most likely to get distracted by something funny or interesting on the sidelines during a game?
N – Arden has done this in real life
A – Arden
S – Arden