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Angus ’17.5 eyes Olympic dream

After first tour with Canadian national team, Angus ’17.5 brings national experience back to Brown

On Feb. 7 — while most students were trudging to class through the yard-high snow — Katarina Angus ’17.5 was suiting up for the most important game of her field hockey career.

So far, that is.

A 4-0 loss to New Zealand — a game in which Angus played for 30 minutes — was not a great debut for Angus on the Canadian women’s field hockey team, but her appearance marked the realization of a lifelong dream, she said.

“It was a very cool experience. It was very intimidating — the game kind of happened, I don’t really remember a lot of it,” Angus said, laughing. “I think I was just making sure that I was marking my player. It was very fast, it was very high-paced — it was a really great way to start my career.”

Angus has been playing with affiliates of the Canadian national team since a young age. Before coming to Brown, she played on the under-16 and under-18 national squads. But while trying out for the under-21 junior national team, she was asked by Head Coach Ian Rutledge to practice with the senior squad. She jumped at the opportunity.

“It was really cool — a really great experience to play at a completely different level,” Angus said. “It was really nice to be exposed to what the next level of field hockey actually is and where you need to be to play at an international level.”

“It was tough; the training was hard,” she added. “But it was fun, and I’ve enjoyed it so far.”

Yet Angus faced a difficult decision when Rutledge asked if she wanted to take a semester off last spring to practice and go to tournaments with the national team.

“Brown is such an incredible place and so special, I didn’t ever even want to take a semester abroad because I didn’t want to miss time at Brown,” Angus said.

But she chose to join the team and has no regrets. “It was something I needed to do for my career and to be able to establish myself on the Canadian team,” she said.

Head Coach Jill Reeve was “delighted” that Angus was going to play with Canada during her spring semester. “It’s been a desire for her to play at the next level, and I think that this helps her reach her full potential.”

Now back on the field for Brown, Angus’ has seamlessly transitioned from the national level to the collegiate level. The third-year star already has two game-winning goals for Brown to go along with a team-high seven points, which already eclipses her season totals from last year.

“The big difference is the fitness level,” Angus said. “Everyone is so fit, and everything happens at a much faster speed (in national competition). … I feel like I can try to implement a quickness in our game.”

Though she mainly plays in the back for Canada, Reeve has shifted her slightly upfield this year for the Bears, which has led to the uptick in offensive production — success Angus attributes to her work earlier in the year.

Playing with Canada “has given me a good sense of what can be done in the positions I’m in,” Angus said.

Teammates appreciate having Angus back on the field.

“Having her power and strength a little further forward is great,” said co-captain Alexis Miller ’16. “When she injects into our attack from the back, she’s great at creating opportunities and corners, which really helps our team.”

It is not only on-the-field improvements that Angus has brought back to the States. She also came back “more mature,” Reeve said. After a troubling 6-1 loss to Providence College, Angus joined co-captains Anna Masini ’16 and Miller in reassuring the team and providing constructive criticism.

“There’s definitely been an increase in her knowledge of the game,” Miller said. “She’s definitely matured more as a player. She listens when she needs to and dishes commands as well.”

After the Bears’ somewhat disappointing conference campaign, Angus is hoping her national experience — combined with the wealth of young and veteran talent that Reeve has at her disposal — will make Brown a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.

The team’s goals this season are “to keep winning and start competing in the Ivy League,” Angus said. “This year and next year will be really good chances to establish ourselves as a great team.”

“She’s one of our top players,” Reeve said. “It’s great that she’s a part of our group. Brown field hockey is meaningful to her, and she definitely appreciates that our team is special.”

For Canada, the next few years will be defined by its success in future tournaments: Having not qualified for the 2016 Olympics, the team’s focus will shift to qualifying for the 2020 games.

The Olympics “is definitely in reach,” Angus said. “We’re really looking toward qualifying for 2020, and there’s a lot of really cool tournaments, like the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup, in 2017 and 2018 and 2019 coming up. There’s a lot of opportunities for qualification, and that’s definitely something I’d love to be a part of.”

But for now, Angus is dedicating her fall semesters to Brown, which has established a goal of winning the Ivy League for the first time since it shared the crown with Princeton in 1999.

“I’m extremely excited to be back at Brown,” Angus said with an infectious smile.

The Ivy League might not feel the same way.



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