You played several sports at a young age. Looking back on your time through school, do you think this helped with your development as a hockey player?
Of course. I played as many sports as possible including football, rugby, hockey and cricket. This taught me many things that have now come into my game when playing hockey. These include ‘reading the game’, leadership, communication skills and hand eye co-ordination which are just a few things to mention that have helped me develop both as a hockey player and as a person.
You studied at Ballard School for 9 years, and then made the switch to Queen’s College Taunton, one of the best hockey schools in the country. Was this the right decision for the development of you as an athlete and a person?
Both Ballard and Queens were places where I have developed as a person and as an athlete due to several individuals who motivated me and guided me in a direction that was best for me. Queen’s was a great place for me where I made many friends for life and I was in a place that let me develop as a hockey player under Ian Haley who had played at the 2012 Olympics. Queen’s gave me excellent technical and tactical support as well as helping me when I had set backs.
You have represented England at U16, U18 and U21 level, while also playing for your club side Bath Buccaneers. Do you have time to work and socialise at University? How do you manage your time?
Bath University has been a great experience for me over the past 3 years whether that has been playing hockey, socialising or work. I have made some really good friends over my time at Bath University. This has meant that I have been able to socialise as there has always been things going on which has been great fun. However, I don’t socialise anywhere near as much as some of my good friends, but I don’t see this as a sacrifice but something as a good thing as I am striving to go to the Olympics. If I do get there one day, the choice to do everything I have been doing with my training will be well worth it.
You have recently been selected to captain your country on a number of occasions. Is leadership a component that comes naturally to you, or are you constantly working on it?
It is quite a natural thing that I have always had, but at the same time, I have definitely been working on it over the past couple of years with my Great Britain manager who I have worked closely with which has been a massive help! I have always been a bit of a talker on the pitch ever since I have been playing sport so I guess that helps when playing any sport really. Having become a centre back in hockey, it is vital to communicate so I can help across the whole pitch as I can see the most things.
You represented GB & England at a relatively young age. How did you cope with the sudden increase in pressure and expectation? Do you have any strategies?
When I first started playing, I felt a lot of pressure and got very nervous. However, as I have played more games, I get less and less nervous. I actually like being nervous, as if I didn’t get nervous, I would be slightly worried! I am a very competitive person and love playing hockey and I am very lucky that some of my best mates also play for the same team. This allows me to enjoy these big and exciting moments with them, which in a way makes it less nerve racking as I have always played with them. This just makes it seem like another game.
When I am nervous, my strategies are very much in the changing room before a game. I visualise how I could play and what I want to play like. This calms me down but I try not to be too serious as this means I am not going to enjoy it as much as I should. At the end of the day, I believe that the more relaxed I am, the more I will enjoy it and I feel like I will play better.
In July 2019, you won a Silver medal at the EuroHockey Championships for the first time in 21 years. Not only did you win a medal, you also picked up the award for player of the tournament. With the calibre of players on show, you must have felt ecstatic?
The tournament must be one of the best experiences of my life. From the setup of the tournament, to winning a silver medal and then to winning player of the tournament really was an amazing accolade. The tournament seemed to run so smoothly for both the team and me personally. We had an amazing team culture and support network around us. I felt like this squad really deserved this medal as so much hard work had been put in at training camps for a year leading up to this. It is a real credit to the coaches for putting this work in.
Regards to the personal award, I really did not expect it, as there were so many impressive players at this tournament. It was an amazing feeling and one that I will never forget as in the year leading up to the tournament, I had put so much work in to get in a really good physical position to be the best I could possibly be at the Europeans. This felt like a reward for all this hard work and it had really paid off which was such a good feeling.
This interview was conducted by Tom Pittman, a member of The S Word.