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Interviews with Great Britain’s women’s ball hockey team

I’ve been interested in doing something that showed players that even if you start playing hockey later in life, you can still work towards your dreams and something that showed the diversity within teams and really emphasize that the Great Britain women’s ball hockey team is young and upcoming. We hope to cause damage in the future.

I decided that the best way to do this was to ask some players the same questions and show the difference in answers. I also asked players if they had any extra words or advice to share (take note of these because I think insight from anyone who’s represented their country is invaluable to anyone wanting to do this in the future).

After some reflection of the world championships and some gathering of information, this is what I’ve been able to get to share with you guys — I hope you enjoy!

Aimee Thorpe #74

Years experience of ball hockey?

I started in the summer of 2017 but didn’t play during the season as I was at an ice hockey academy in Canada. I played a full season this year for two mixed/co-ed teams.

Number choice and why?

I wear number 74 for ball hockey. I’m really drawn to the number 4, my first-choice ice hockey number is 14 (my birthday) which I couldn’t get with my ball hockey team. My favourite ice hockey player is #74 so it seemed fitting for me.

How many years have you been on the GB squad?

This is my first year on the senior ladies team but I played for the GB U20 ladies team at the world championships just past.

What are your future ball hockey ambitions?

I’d like to play for the GB team for as long as I can with ball hockey. I’d like to become more of a goal scorer, even though I’ve been putting up points, I’d definitely like to contribute as a goal scorer. I’m hoping to be selected for the U20 team again next season and earn a letter in the future with the senior or U20 team.

How much time do you commit to being on the GB women’s ball hockey team?

I train every week for ball and ice hockey. I also play for four different ball hockey teams (including the GB team) so I have games on a regular basis. I play for a Scottish team (Glasgow Phoenix) and an English team (Nottingham Vikings) so I play against a lot of different competition and with different teammates. This helps me be as adaptable on any team as I can be. I’m always happy to play any forward or defensive position.

When I’m not playing organized hockey, my boyfriend (who’s in the GB ball hockey organisation too) and I will mess about with sticks and a ball or call shots for each other. We train together too and when we get some free time he’ll work with me to help improve my game.

If you could be a superhero, who would you be?

I feel like Thor is an appropriate superhero for me. Not just with his name being in my name but strength, speed and durability are all things I work on. I also think it’d be really awesome to be able to fly so he’s just the perfect superhero for me.

Any extra words of advice?

I’d say that ball hockey is probably the easiest of the hockey versions to pick up as all you really need is a cheap stick and a ball. Most people underrate it as it’s not ice hockey but there are very skilled players within the sport. Even playing ball hockey in the off season can be tremendously influencing to an ice hockey player, so I’d say definitely give it a try. More hockey is more hockey right?

Beth Milne #9

Years experience of ball hockey?

Just under two years.

Number choice and why?

I’m currently wearing number 9, mainly because 8 was already taken, but at the end of the day the shirt is more important than the number.

How many years have you been on the GB squad?

This is my first year at senior level. I’d only competed at U20 level one year previous to this.

What are your future ball hockey ambitions?

To keep playing and to keep enjoying and growing the game. Hopefully I’ll be able to make the senior squad again in two years time.

How much time do you commit to being on the GB women’s ball hockey team?

In terms of fitness, I like to be in the gym at least three times a week working on both cardio and strength training.

For skills I train regularly with my local team. I’m also lucky enough to have a dog who ‘helps’ me develop my ball handling skills (mainly through trying to steal the ball!).

If you could be a superhero, who would you be?

Wolverine (mainly so I can recover a bit quicker from the inevitable bruises and scrapes).

Louise Beresford #40

Years experience of ball hockey?

Two years.

Number choice and why?

#40 because I got given it when I first started ice and it’s just stuck as my lucky number.

How many years have you been on the GB squad?

One.

What are your future ball hockey ambitions?

Play as many world championships as possible and maybe go into coaching.

How much time do you commit to being on the GB women’s ball hockey team?

A couple of hours a week plus weekends away for camps and training sessions.

If you could be a superhero, who would you be?

Spider-Man

Any extra words of advice?

Probably just that ice players should try it (ball hockey). I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have and to appreciate the time you get with teammates because the trips have been so fun.

Hannah Ware #46

Years experience of ball hockey?

I have been playing ball hockey for two years now, however, I have been playing ice for nine years.

As you still have at least two more junior world cups, how do you expect the jumping up and down of age levels to be?

I feel jumping through age groups isn’t going to be much of an issue for me. We trained hard this year for the senior world championships, which I felt helped me a lot with the jump from juniors to seniors. I am excited to see what I can do in U20s next year as I feel playing with the seniors this year has really improved my game.

What challenges do you face within the team?

The main challenge I face within the team is coming in as a new player, although everyone was really accepting and respected the juniors coming up you’ve still got to try and adapt to how the team works and how they do things.

As the youngest player on the team, how did you find fitting in with the older players?

As the youngest player on the team I felt I fit in well with the older players. We are all there to do one thing and that’s to play hockey. Everyone on the team deserved to be there so age didn’t really matter in my eyes.

What are your future ball hockey ambitions?

My future ball hockey ambitions are, in the short term, to play more ball hockey and make the U20s team next season. Long term is to carry on playing ball hockey for the GB women’s team and to improve so I’m constantly playing within the special teams and on the 1st or 2nd line. I also hope when I’ve got enough experience and once I’ve improved more as a player I become a part of the captaincy team.

How much time do you commit to being on the GB women’s ball hockey team?

Throughout the season I committed four to six hours a week to being on the team through going to gym, going out for a jog, doing sprints and practicing with a ball and a stick in my garden. I did more training as it got closer to the championships though. Although this is the time I spend training, I am constantly thinking about the championships so every decision I make in my day to day life hockey comes into it. Even the small things such as drinking fizzy drinks or water.

Any extra words of advice?

My advice for any young hockey players trying to improve or trying make a certain team is to do the work now; don’t leave it until tomorrow because the person you’re competing against to get on the team is doing the work today. We have more time then we think being young so putting the work in now will give us an extra stepping stone for the future. Don’t make any excuses.

Deana Cuglietta #68 – Captain

When did you get involved with ball hockey UK?

I helped get the first team to compete at Worlds in 2011. Myself and Ali pushed to get enough girls to sign up. One of my friends from Canada was coaching back then and approached me to help get a UK team going.

What are some noticeable differences in the set up from when you started compared to now?

The biggest difference is the amount of females we now have playing the sport, the leagues that we have across the UK and how fast it has grown.

How was it for you captaining a team with many up and coming players?

I have been captain before so I know how much effort it takes to keep the team moral high, motivated, and to care for each individual equally. This year it was the biggest challenge because we has so many up and coming players and some very young players who haven’t experienced such a high level of competition. It is not just physically challenging, it is also mentally challenging. Making sure all players feel important and that they have a role to play takes a lot of coaching and motivating at times. It is hard to balance looking after 22 players while making sure I don’t lose the focus I need to give myself to preform at my best.

Is there anything different you’ve had to do this World Championship compared to previous ones?

This year I wasn’t as fit for the championship due to injuries from my ice career. So I had to adjust a lot of my training and also accept the fact that I wasn’t going to be at 100% by the time the championship started. This was a big mental preparation I needed to accept, and not an easy one.

What advice would you give to older players wanting to start ball hockey?

First of all, this sport is for all ages. If you can run, the rest can be taught. Don’t be scared to start. Running is the biggest part of this game, cardio is a must.

What advice would you give to younger players starting out in a senior set up?

The senior set up is not a development league and younger players that are competing for the first time need to understand they have to earn their spot, the players that are performing at the highest will get played. Playing as a team member is very important and staying positive at all times is what the coaches look at. Be true to yourself at all times and understand your role on the team. Always ask questions to experienced players/coaches to show you are eager and want to learn. The most important thing to remember is to have fun and enjoy the experience.

Throughout your whole hockey journey, is there a single piece of advice you wish someone had told you?

That once you’re on the floor, you become a role model. Always remember you are playing for your country and there are others who would love to be in your shoes.


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