How did NIAS play a part in your sporting journey?
NIAS was a natural progression for rural athletes looking to represent at the next level. During my time with NIAS, I was lucky to play with athletes who went on to represent the Hockeyroo’s at the Olympics. I think that highlights the strength and stepping stone that NIAS provides. There was always a heavy focus on the entire athlete, not just the athletic aspect but the program also developed our nutritional skills, organization, public speaking and team culture.
What inspired you to be an elite athlete?
Several things inspired me to be an elite athlete growing up, but mainly my own family. My mother has always been a strong pillar of strength in our family. She has always taught me to stand up for myself, present myself with integrity and has always supported my hopes and dreams. She was instrumental in making it possible for me to acquire a full athletic scholarship from The College of William and Mary in Virginia, USA. This athletic scholarship allowed me to play division I field hockey in the college system and I was able to graduate with a double major, fully funded by the athletic scholarship. This athletic scholarship allowed me to play hockey in the USA at an elite level for four years, and I was exposed to world class facilities both athletically and academically.
In my opinion, it was an opportunity of a lifetime and an experience that that cannot be achieved here in Australia. The amount of money that the USA will spend on recruiting, facilities, travelling, playing equipment and scholarships is beyond mind boggling. My mother and father financially sacrificed an immense amount to make sure I was able to play domestically and internationally allowing me to travel and play in South Africa, The Netherlands, Singapore, England, Wales, and The United States of America. From graduating from the second oldest university in America, behind Harvard, I hope that I have repaid that financial sacrifice back to my parents. They essentially allowed me to graduate, debt free, with a lifelong life changing experience. I will be forever grateful.
What advice would you give a young aspiring rural athlete?
My biggest piece of advice is focus on your own path and goals, and work hard when no one else is there to make you train, go to the gym or do the extra workouts. Don’t expect achievement, or selection and always strive to be the best against yourself. It is easy to get caught up in what others are doing, but this distracts you from your own path of achievement. Being a rural athlete and trying to compete at the elite level is challenging. You have to be willing to look at it as an opportunity instead of a sacrifice, and there is no way around it, you have to work hard.
What level of commitment and discipline does it take to be a professional athlete?
I think that it takes a high-level of commitment not only from the athlete but also the people that support the athlete. In my opinion, it is often the parents and grandparents that sacrifice a great deal to support their child, and often that support is what sees elite athletes become successful. I was fortunate to have an immense support system from my family and that is what helped me to succeed. Ultimately, you have to want to be the best. You have to have a strong mentality to handle rejection, injury and setbacks. I don’t think it is any one thing that helps you become an elite athlete, but a magnitude of smaller things that combine to make you strong enough to handle the pressure to be able to perform at a high level.
Can you share one special NIAS memory or moment?
I loved attending the training camps, I always found it super competitive and enjoyed combining with other athletes to see how my fitness and athletic ability compared to those around me in the district. I also really enjoyed playing at the Academy Games. It was competitive, but mainly fun. It was another opportunity outside of representing Tamworth to play with girls in your region.
Is there a particular NIAS coach, volunteer or program personnel who stands out/inspired you?
Peter Annis-Brown the former CEO of NIAS left a strong impression on me throughout the program. He was instrumental in instilling commitment and giving back to the program through public speaking events to thank our major sponsors. I was given multiple opportunities to speak to major sponsors and attend events, that strengthened my public speaking, communication and presentation skills. It also highlighted the importance that sponsors played in supporting the NIAS program.