UBC field hockey star was described as Canada's greatest goal scorer during its history of international competition. During his days at UBC played nearly 100 international matches including the World Cup and Olympics. Only UBC athlete to be an Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and receive Bobby Gaul Award.
Alan Hobkirk, an outstanding field hockey player during the decade of the 1970s, has the remarkable honour of being the only UBC athlete to have been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, represent Canada at the Olympics and win the Bobby Gaul Award as UBC's most outstanding and inspirational male athlete. UBC has had its share of Rhodes Scholars and one, Harry Warren, was also an Olympian, however Hobkirk stands alone as the one UBC athlete to have achieved all three honours.
Described by former Olympic manager and field hockey star Victor Warren as "Canada's greatest goal scorer during its history of international competition," Hobkirk started play with the Thunderbird field hockey team in 1971/72, scoring six goals in his first two games. At this time the 19 year old was well established as a player having played four years on British Columbia's Junior field hockey team and was now into his second season as player and captain with BC’s Senior team.
With Hobkirk starring for both UBC and the BC team, towers of strength in Canadian field hockey, it was not surprising to see him make the Canadian National team in 1971, the first of his nine years as a member of this select squad.
In 1974 Hobkirk graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Arts degree and was the year's recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship - a scholarship he accepted at Oxford University.
At Oxford he was a "hit". Not only did he graduate in 1976 with a Masters of Arts degree, but was also named captain of the school's field hockey team both years. His Oxford career was highlighted by the receiving of his "blue", that school's prestigious athletic award, and the two goals he scored to lead Oxford to a 7-1 triumph over its traditional rival, Cambridge. He found time in 1975 to return to Canada to play for Canada's National team, leading it to a Silver medal at the 1975 Pan-American games, losing 1-0 to Argentina in the final.
The summer Hobkirk graduated from Oxford he was named captain of Canada's 16 man 1976 Olympic field hockey team. The team had a very strong UBC flavour, eight of the players plus its manager, Victor Warren, had at one time played, or were currently playing, for the UBC Thunderbirds.
In 1976/77 the 25 year old Hobkirk returned to UBC, entering the faculty of law and once again donning the Blue and Gold on the hockey field. According to Warren, it was the immense amount of practice Hobkirk put into the game plus his ability to perfect his specialized role, that of a goal scorer, that led to his success. Eric Donegani, Canada's director of field hockey, felt Hobkirk at this time was this country's best known international field player not only for his scoring prowess due to his expertise at the penalty corner shot but also for his strong play defensively.
In 1978 while at UBC, Hobkirk was named captain of Canada's World Cup team, a team that did surprisingly well. In both the qualifying rounds and in World Cup play, the UBC Thunderbird striker was the team's leading scorer, recording two goals in Canada's 3-1 victory over Ireland and two goals in its 3-1 victory over defending world champion India.
Hobkirk continued to play for UBC while taking law from 1976 to 1979. In 1979 he was again the principal goal scorer for Canada in that year's World Field Hockey Tournament in Australia. By this year he had participated in nearly 100 international matches and was described as "Canada's premier field hockey player." In addition to his success internationally and at Oxford, Hobkirk was a mainstay on Canada's National team had played on five Canadian championship teams and received five Big Block awards for his outstanding play at UBC.
Upon graduating in law from UBC in 1979, he was awarded the third jewel of the "Triple Crown", receiving UBC Athletics' prestigious Bobby Gaul Award as UBC's outstanding male athlete of the year.
Dr. Harry Warren, initiator of men's field hockey at UBC, as well as player and follower of the game for some seventy years, said of Alan Hobkirk: "I would rate him as one of the few world class players we've ever had. He had a devastating penalty shot which helped us win more games than anything else." Hobkirk returned the compliment by stating that UBC played a major role in Canada's improved stature in field hockey. He felt the school's commitment, coaching and conditioning program in addition to a lingering awareness of the university's athletic tradition - personified by Dr. Warren – served to provide both continuity and inspiration.
Researched and written by Fred Hume, UBC Athletics Historian