Six hockey juniors to step up for NSW
HOCKEY: While Grafton Hockey Association has undergone a major face lift with the resurfacing of Brent Livermore Field, a group of talented juniors is showing that not everything is new at the complex as they continue the town's recent dominance of New South Wales rep squads.
Grace Young will head away to the Under-15 National Field Hockey Championships in April hoping to win a consecutive medal for the NSW state side, just this year she will be aiming to make it gold rather than silver.
There is likely only one person in Grafton who won't be hoping Young comes away with gold and that is Laura Harley, who will represent the association in the NSW Blues side and will meet her Grafton counterpart during the tournament.
While Grafton will be represented by a staggering four boys at the same championships, with both Elliott Speed and Jake Lambeth making the step up into the NSW State side in April, while Tyler Gaddes and Rhys Cropper will make their debut at that age range after stepping up from the under-13 ranks last year.
While GHA sports administrator would not admit if there was something in the water at the hockey complex, even he was astounded by the amount of representation our "country” association is getting on the National stage.
"I really can't put words to it,” Ward said. "It doesn't matter how I say it, it will never be enough recognition and justice to the amount of work these kids put in.
"These are juniors that have progressed so quickly and put it together at such a young age, it is brilliant.
"All we can do is give them the opportunities to train and play and push themselves, but the more you look into it the more you find they just keep punching above their weight.”
Ward admitted the association was blessed with the tutelage of Hockey NSW coach Rick Sampson who continues to develop the junior brigade through his Accelerated Athlete Program.
Now with a state of the art hockey surface installed on Brent Livermore Field, Ward is hoping the representative selections will continue to come thick and fast.
"Now these kids will be training and playing on the same surface as they do at Nationals, just every week.”