For over twenty years in her role as BC Women’s Field Hockey Federation provincial coordinator, Jenny John crisscrossed the province teaching the game she loved.

Carrying a bag of field hockey sticks in the trunk of her car and dispensing the knowledge and technical expertise accumulated over a storied career brought John to the smallest towns and largest cities. Her enthusiasm was infectious and always the result was the same.

When John and her travelling field hockey road show moved on, the game was always a little stronger than before. Continuing a legacy of past pioneers and builders such as May Brown, Barbara ‘Bim’ Schrodt, and Moira Colbourne, John left behind her own lasting legacy, living and breathing across the province and beyond in the form of players, coaches, officials, volunteers, and administrators working for the betterment of field hockey. Estimates vary on how many individuals she actually touched, but even conservative numbers are startling: over 10,000 players and hundreds of schools. For her efforts, many consider John the face of field hockey in British Columbia today.

Born in Essex, England, as a child John played many sports, but her first love was cricket, learning the game with her brother in the family garden. By eleven she was a member of the Essex county team and soon the east of England squad, while also completing her field hockey coaching and umpiring certification. Obtaining a physical education degree from Kent, she worked as a teacher in Essex until 1970 when she came to Victoria and began four decades weaving her thread into the rich fabric of BC field hockey.

An active player (occasionally serving as player-coach) on both the BC and Canadian national senior teams for five years, the highlight came captaining Canada at the 1975 world championships in Scotland. Sadly, a severe knee injury there cut short her international career and she switched focus to coaching, umpiring, organizing, and administrating.

From 1978-80 she coached the University of Victoria squad, while in the midst of a fourteen-year reign as coach of the BC provincial team. She began working as BCWFHF provincial coordinator in 1979, partnering with Judy Broom to form a remarkable team that elevated the sport to a new level.

Credited with the successful restructuring of the BC high school program and provincial championships, John was also behind the emergence of mini field hockey and junior development. Among the six field hockey manuals she authored, one was translated and distributed to all thirty-three of the world’s field hockey-playing nations. Despite retiring in 2000, she is still sought out to serve as technical advisor for major BC and Canadian championships and events, such as the Canada Summer Games.

John’s efforts haven’t gone unrecognized. Twice the recipient of Field Hockey Canada’s Achievement Award, in 1990 she was given the organization’s Distinguished Service Award. More recently she was awarded the Kaizan Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996, the Queen’s Jubilee Commemorative Medal in 2003, and the BC Games President’s Award in 2004.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.