My pathway to success - Jennifer Tait, IVS

(Image curtesy of Duncolm Sports Photography

I started playing hockey when I moved to Scotland from Malaysia in 2013. Before then I had never even touched a hockey ball so, when I took part in my first games session at Summerhill playing fields, I found the sport very unusual. However, I grew to love it. 

There wasn’t an actual moment when I realised “hockey is my sport”, but I remember when I realised I could do well in hockey. It was the end of an S2 tournament and St Margaret’s had come second overall. After the final game, my friend Kassidy suggested I join the Granite City Wanderers Hockey Club, of which she had just become a member. It was here I developed my hockey skills and the club has helped me become the player I am today. My coach, Sandy Keith, played a big part in my hockey development, teaching me different skills and always believing in me. 

My hockey schedule varies during the winter and summer. In summer, I usually have three training sessions during the week and a few games over the weekend. I am also planning to start strength and conditioning training, and add a session of another sport, such as swimming or spin classes, to my routine.

After October, the outdoor hockey training stops until February and I play indoor hockey, which comprises a training session on a Monday and a few indoor games during the weekend.  

Last year, I was spotted by a talent scout, who invited me to trial for the Under-16s Hockey team in November. I soon realised that I had a lot of competition – some of the players were absolutely amazing - so I was very nervous to hear the outcome. When I found out I had made it to the national squad, I was over the moon! Telling my family I had made it to the squad, and hearing them say they were proud of me, was one of the best things I could ever hear. Being chosen for the national squad was a goal I had been trying to reach since I started playing hockey in competitions and leagues, and to finally be able to train and play with the squad is truly amazing. 

My current training schedule consists of a training session every Saturday in Dundee, although sometimes we also have hockey camps which last the whole weekend. The coaches assign fitness programmes, which the squad is expected to follow and they offer us advice on including gym sessions and different sports into our schedule. 

During this season, there are games and tournaments in Poland, Ireland and Glasgow and I’m hoping that I will be chosen to play in all, or at least most of those.

My short-term goals are to play my first game for Scotland U16, improve my fitness and work on different hockey skills, while my long-term goals are to continue to play for Scotland and eventually the U18s.  Every year around October there is an Inter-district tournament and this year I will be playing for North U18. The Scotland coaches watch everyone play and begin to scout players to trial for Scotland. I very much hope I will be one of those chosen.

St Margaret’s is where I was first introduced to hockey and the school has always been there to encourage and support me, and help me realise my potential. It is down to the continuous effort of the teachers – from Mrs Fowler, my first hockey coach to Mrs Reid, Mrs Aitken and Mrs Norval - that I am where I am today. They have all helped me improve my hockey skills massively and I am forever grateful to them all for giving me this fantastic opportunity.

There are so many aspects of hockey which I love, one of which is the social side which is very important. Through my sport, I have met many new people, including some of the greatest friends I could ever have. Another area I love is the competitiveness. In hockey, there are lots of leagues you can enter and across different schools and clubs, hockey is a hot topic.

Hockey is a sport which involves practice and skills and thinking. It’s a good sport to get into because you meet so many wonderful people, you make such good memories, including during those long journeys to different cities - always a good time to bring out the throwback music - and it’s a good way to exercise and keep fit.  Hockey has truly changed my life and I couldn’t be more thankful for the support and opportunities I have been given to make it this far in hockey. I couldn’t have made it here by myself - my family, coaches and friends were (and still are) - very important figures in my hockey career and I can’t wait to see what the future brings. 

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