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Introducing James MacDougall


In the spring of 1977, The Oakville Field Hockey Club was founded. Over the course of the next four years, it would attract almost 350 members, making it possibly the largest recreational field hockey club in Ontario. There are many reasons for its success. But perhaps they key has been the presence of James MacDougall as both head coach and umpire-in-chief. His leadership and expertise – not to mention his magnetic Scottish sense of humour – have been genuinely inspirational to all members of the club and only strengthened the spirit of the club’s motto: FOR FUN AND FITNESS!

But Jim’s commitment to The Oakville Field Hockey Club is only his most recent involvement in a field hockey career that is not only personally illustrious, but has enormously benefited the game of field hockey across Canada for more than a quarter of a century.

As a young person growing up in Glasgow, Scotland, Jim attended a boys’ academy where he participated in football, rugby and field hockey. His first love though was ice hockey, and as a teenager, he played for the Paisley Ice Hockey Team, Scotland’s Junior ice hockey team, and also Scotland’s National Under 23 field hockey team.

Shortly after immigrating to Canada in 1967 to accept an engineering position with Ford of Canada, the Toronto Field Hockey Club contacted Jim, drafted him, and had him playing all in the same day! Jim continued to play ice hockey as a goalie, including a time with a US farm team. But after several knee injuries, Jim decided to hang up the blades and focus on being a field hockey goalkeeper instead.

From that point, Jim’s field hockey career exploded. As a member of Toronto’s Ookpics Field Hockey Club, Jim served as a player, coach and president of the club. His mentoring days began here as he proved a significant presence in developing junior teams. His skills as a goalkeeper were honed to perfection and Jim soon found himself not only goalkeeper, but also the captain of Canada’s National Field Hockey Team. The team qualified for the Summer Olympics in Montreal in 1976 and Jim was there between the posts.

As Princess Anne was also an equestrian competitor at the Montreal Olympics, Queen Elizabeth invited a representative from each of the Commonwealth countries to a reception on the Royal Yacht Brittania. It was Jim MacDougall who represented Canada.

Jim and Mary MacDougall had been married just a year by then. In true field hockey fanatic fashion, Jim and Mary exchanged vows at the sideline following a tournament match, the guests, players and fans waiting only long enough for Jim to shed his leguards and kickers and don his tuxedo! Jim continued as a coach with the National team from 1977 to 1980.

With a young family to care for, and time more precious, Jim turned his attention from the national scene to the provincial. He coached both Ontario Provincial Men’s Teams – Senior and Junior – to their first national gold medals in 1981. It was at this time that Jim’s focus became indoor field hockey.

Jim was convinced that given the Canadian winter climate and therefore an extremely limited outdoor season, we could never compete internationally without playing the game all year round. In 1981, Jim began an intense campaign to develop Indoor Field Hockey in Ontario and Canada. He researched, lobbied and wrote position papers championing the future of this exciting version of field hockey. From 1986 to 1991, Jim was coach of the Canadian National Indoor Team, taking Canada in ten short years to an enviable 4th place finish at the 1991 World Cup. His dedication to promoting indoor field hockey culminated in January 1999 when Canada earned its first World Cup Indoor Field Hockey title. Fittingly, Canada won gold in Jim’s hometown of Glasgow, Scotland.

In 1988, Jim was recognized by Otto Jelinek, then Minister of Fitness and Amateur Sports, as an outstanding representative of sport.

Throughout it all, Jim continued to support athletes. He fought and won a tough battle with the Federal government who finally made it possible for athletes to compete for Canada without the risk of losing their jobs.

Although a complete stranger on the sideline, who had come to watch out of curiosity, perhaps it was no coincidence that Jim MacDougall showed up at Appleby for the final night of The Oakville Field Hockey Club’s first season. He offered to umpire the final 20 minutes. And so began one more venue for Jim to give to the game and its players.

In 2000, The Oakville Field Hockey Club held its First Annual Dream-a-Thon, a 12-hour indoor field hockey match, raising a remarkable $26,000 to help Oakville area children with severe disabilities or a terminal illness to enjoy a day at Disney World. And Jim was an important part of that too. He donated generously to the silent auction, took to the court with fellow Olympians and some Oakville celebrities to play a fun match and blew his whistle no fewer than 3,000 times, umpiring virtually the whole day, keeping things under control, coaching all along. It was no wonder, when he returned to the gym for the final 3 hours, after a brief rest at home, that both players and spectators erupted in a standing ovation.

The Oakville Field Hockey Club has grappled Jim MacDougall to its soul with hoops of steel. Hanging around Jim, field hockey fanatics can’t help but develop their skills and strategy. But more importantly, they will deepen their appreciation and their love of the game. The Oakville Field Hockey Club, who with pride nominated him for this recognition, knows in its heart that someday soon, thanks to Jim MacDougall, Oakville will boast another field hockey Olympian.


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