Carla Duncan (Somerville) (2024) - Sports Wall of Fame (2024)

  • Pandas Field Hockey defender/midfielder (1991-94, 1996)
  • 1996/97 Bakewell Trophy Winner
  • 1996 Canada West and CIAU Player of the Year
  • 1996/97 Canada West Female Athlete of the Year (All Sports)
  • 1996 Canada West Champion
  • 4-time Canada West All-Star (1992, 1993, 1994, 1996)
  • 3-time CIAU All-Canadian (1992, 1994, 1996)
  • 3-time CIAU Tournament All-Star (1992, 1993, 1996)
  • 97 international caps with Canadian National Team (1995-2001)
  • Pandas Field Hockey Head Coach (2002-2009)
  • Led Pandas to lone CIS Championship (2005)
  • 2008 CIS Silver Medal
  • 2005 CIS Coach of the Year
  • 2-time Canada West Coach of the Year (2004, 2005)

For the better part of two decades, the face of the Pandas Field Hockey program was star athlete turned head coach, Carla Duncan (Somerville), ‘98 BPE.

A talented athlete, leader, and motivator, Duncan holds the distinct honour of being arguably the best student-athlete and coach in program history. There are few – if any – individuals who would be in that conversation for any Golden Bears and Pandas varsity team. When you are among the likes of Trix Baker and Tracy David, you know you are among rarified air.

From 1991-1996, Duncan was a star on the pitch for the Pandas, accumulating individual honours and awards from the conference and national level. After competing for the Canadian national team following her graduation, Duncan returned to campus in 2002 to lead the team as their head coach for nearly a decade, capturing the Pandas sole national title in 2005.

When Duncan joined the Pandas in the fall of 1991, she was among a large crop of rookies for the rebuilding program. Under head coach Dru Marshall, Duncan’s rookie season marked the first of an upward trajectory for the Pandas, which culminated in a 1996 Canada West title, the first for the program since 1973.

“I coached the Pandas Field Hockey team for 21 years, and throughout that time was fortunate to have coached many outstanding athletes who won numerous awards and went on to play for Canada. Carla would rank as my top player of all time,” said Marshall, who herself was inducted onto the Sports Wall of Fame in 2011. “Carla’s achievements reflect an outstanding work ethic, and a personal dedication and commitment to ensure she maximized her potential. She was and continues to be an outstanding ambassador for University of Alberta athletics.”

Duncan and the Pandas started to hit their stride in 1992, as the Pandas midfielder was named both a Canada West All-Star and second team CIAU All-Canadian, leading the team to a CIAU bronze medal, the first national medal in team history.

The ‘93 and ‘94 seasons saw Duncan earn two more conference All-Star spots, two first team CIAU All-Canadian places, and was a ’93 CIAU Tournament All-Star appearance. The 1993 Pandas earned a second-straight CIAU bronze medal, establishing themselves as a contender on the national stage.

Duncan spent the 1995/96 season competing with the Canadian national team, as they searched for an Olympic berth to the ‘96 Atlanta Games. Between 1995 and 2001, Duncan competed in 97 international caps with the national team, including the 1998 Commonwealth Games, and the 1995, 1999, and 2001 World Cup Qualifiers.

Returning from the national team in the fall of ‘96, Duncan put forth her best season as a Panda, and one of the greatest single seasons of any field hockey player in team history. Duncan led Canada West with 17 goals, leading the team to their first conference title in 23 years. She was named the Canada West Player of the Year, CIAU Co-Player of the Year, the Canada West Female Athlete of the Year (all sports), and the 1997 Bakewell Trophy winner as the UofA Female Athlete of the Year.

“Carla was a superb athlete, possessed exceptional technical ability, had an innate ability to read the game, and was an excellent leader,” continued Marshall. “As a player, she won every individual award in a team sport that she could.”

Duncan returned to campus in 2002 after her playing career ended, taking over for Marshall as the head coach of the Pandas. Over her seven seasons as the program lead, Duncan finished with five top-three finishes in Canada West, led the Pandas to their only national title in 2005, and added second, fourth, and fifth place finishes at nationals.

Finishing second to UBC in the conference playoffs, the Pandas found their groove at the 2005 CIS Championship hosted by the Thunderbirds, which was punctuated by a 2-1 shootout win over the hosts in the national final.

Duncan was a two-time Canada West Coach of the Year award winner, and the 2005 CIS Coach of the Year. She amassed a 43-47-19 overall record, and a 25-37-13 conference record.

“As a coach, Carla was a talent magnet, attracting athletes from all over western Canada to play for the Pandas,” concluded Marshall. “Several of her athletes went on to have excellent careers with the national team.”

Carla Duncan (Somerville) is the sixth Pandas Field Hockey alumni to be inducted into the UofA Sports Hall of Fame, and the second in the Athlete/Builder category.

Carla Duncan (Somerville) (2024) - Sports Wall of Fame (2024)
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