Sampson's selfless service in growing demand
HOCKEY: Grafton Hockey Association life member Rick Sampson spends so much time on the Clarence Valley Regional Hockey Complex fields he could point out every invisible bump from a mile away.
For the past five years Sampson has dedicated his time and effort to coaching a seemingly never-ending talent pool of emerging junior hockey stars.
His half-decade of commitment to coaching hockey in Grafton has been rewarded with his appointment as a regional coaching co-ordinator for Hockey New South Wales.
"I was pretty proud," Sampson said. "It's been a long time coaching for nothing; it's good to get recognised.
"My first job with Hockey New South Wales started in October when I went over to Perth coaching the state under 13s boys."
Sampson has been working hard in Grafton for years prior to this acknowledgement, coaching several representative teams and launching the Grafton Hockey Academy for local athletes four years ago.
"I couldn't really play anymore because of injuries. A group of kids approached me because they were selected into state teams and wanted my advice on how to improve their skills," he said.
Sampson's commitment to the training has produced growing numbers over the journey, beginning with six kids to now having a total of 24 committed junior hockey players attending weekly training sessions.
With more than two decades of experience in the sport, Sampson's coaching has a proven track record of producing high quality athletes from the local area.
"Hearing kids' names that I know well get selected into state teams, it's a good feeling," he said.