Sonja Hotke is competing with the best in the world in a sport you may not know exists.
The Camlachie native is part of Canada’s Women’s Floor Ball team heading to the Czech Republic for the World Championship. The Canadian women won the right to represent North America in the 16-country tournament by beating the US for the first time in February.
And while Hotke and her teammates are excited to take on the world, she admits few people know about her sport.
Floorball is similar to hockey but is played on concerte not ice. “There are no skates, just a lot of running,” says Hotke. The team uses a stick with a shaft like a golf club and a plastic blade on the end, although it is shorter than most hockey blades. There are five players on the 20 by 40 meter floor plus a goalie.
Hotke was first attracted to the fast-paced sport in university and continued playing in leagues in Toronto afterward. “I’d been playing hockey for years and started hearing about fllorball…it is a lot cheaper than hockey.” She became actively involved with Floorball Canada and was recently named the teams’ general manager.
And while she knows all the ins and outs of the game and the international play, Hotke says most people confuse the sport with floor hockey.
It is gaining popularity. Hotke says there are about 200 teams across Canada, many in high schools. And it is on track to be considered for the Olympics in the 2020 cycle.
For now, Hotke and her teammates from across Canada are focused on the World’s which start Saturday. Since the team members are from all over the country, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to work together, so Hotke says they’re heading to the Czech Republic early to get in some quality practice time.
“Tournament doesn’t start until Saturday, so we have four days to do the team bonding and gelling.”