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Thompson succeeds legendary Beecroft as UVic Vikes field hockey head coach

Thompson spent 26 seasons as UVic assistant coach
After 26 seasons as an ­assistant coach, Krista Thompson takes over a UVic women’s field hockey program that has won the last four national ­championships. UVIC

Stories about understudies have fuelled many a ­plotline in movies and literature. Krista Thompson has been the ultra-understudy, for more than a quarter-century, on the ­University of Victoria Vikes women’s field hockey bench to iconic head coach and Olympian Lynne Beecroft.

Thompson was announced as the Vikes head coach Friday after 26 years as assistant coach to the retiring Beecroft, who has won 15 national championships in her 39 years at the UVic helm.

“I am not sure you can replace a legend but I had the opportunity to learn from one of the best for 26 years,” said Thompson.

The native of New Brunswick has prepared well for the role, inside and outside Ring Road, and Thompson is also B.C. high performance coach and coach of the UVic Rising Stars program and has coached the Canada NextGen team and has been assistant coach for the Canadian national team at the Commonwealth Games.

As a national-team ­goalkeeper, Thompson earned 19 caps for Canada, ­including in the Pan Am Games and ­Olympic qualifying tournaments. ­Thompson also sits on the Field Hockey Canada coach ­education committee, Field Hockey ­Canada high performance ­consultative ­committee, Field Hockey Canada/U Sports committee, U Sports Field Hockey coaches association and the Vancouver Island Ladies Field Hockey Association board.

Thompson inherits a dynastic UVic program she helped build alongside Beecroft as the Vikes have won four consecutive U Sports national ­championships.

“I hope to keep moving the program forward,” said ­Thompson.

“There are not going to be big changes but, of course, there are always adjustments to make with a new roster each new season, as we have six starters graduating.”

Thompson said her focus is on developing the whole individual on and off the pitch: “My philosophy is to make a difference and create a learning environment so athletes can grow as people and players.”

Thompson proved herself as the obvious successor to replace Beecroft. Any other choice, considering Thompson’s record and length of service in the program, would have been considered a travesty.

“Krista has a tremendous ­history with the Vikes and a proven track record of being a world-class coach,” UVic director of varsity sport ­performance, Nick Clarke, said in a statement.

“Her understanding of the modern student-athlete truly sets her apart. Combined with Krista’s active involvement and experience across the entire sporting system, from the national team to grassroots, is the reason why she is by far the best person to lead our field hockey program.”

Beecroft, meanwhile, reflected on her remarkable career.

“I was very blessed to have young players who wanted to learn, and it has been gratifying to see them go on to succeed in their work careers and their lives,” said the Duncan product, who as a player, won silver with Canada in the 1983 World Cup and played in the 1984 L.A. Olympics.

“This job was the perfect fit for me. In 40 years, I never talked about winning. If you do the process piece right, you get the right results.”

A Lynne Beecroft Student Award is being established in her honour to annually support Vikes field hockey players. An anonymous donor will match funds raised up to $100,000 through March. For information, go to the UVic awards page.