Never a question
I think that sense of doing good for others was something I learnt at home growing up. Mum and Dad have always been the kind of people to give a lot to their family and friends. They’ve always bent over backwards to make sure everyone is looked after.
Family has always been a really important value for us. I grew up in Bundaberg in Queensland before we moved down to Melbourne for Dad’s work when I was 11 or 12.
We became our own little safety net for each other. Aside from that, Mum lost her parents when she was very young, so that probably reinforced the importance of family for her.
We’ve always tried to stay tight and deliberately so. It’s the five of us and at different times we’ve all been across Australia or the world with our jobs and hobbies and what-not. It takes a bit of work to stay in touch sometimes. But it’s important to us all and that comes from our parents.
I cherish the opportunity I have with the Kookaburras. My life before reaching this point has helped me to see the beauty in it.
Mum and Dad didn’t have a lot. But they did their absolute best to make sure I and my younger brother and sister, Sam and Darci, went to great schools and got to play all the sports we wanted and whatever else. We lived quite a privileged life because of the hard work they put in.
I attended one of the nicest schools in Melbourne, Xavier College and travelled around Australia playing junior hockey. I was going away to three or four tournaments a year. Each one was $1500 or $2000 and, if you add it up, that’s quite a lot each year.
I also played cricket, footy and did lifesaving. There was never a question about whether I could do those all those things. Mum and Dad just made sure I could take part.
At the time, you don’t think about all that. You take it for granted. But, as you get older, you start to realise how much it means.
I’ve never got around to actually telling my parents how much I appreciate what they did for me when I was younger. But, having a bit of success lately in hockey, I’ve been able to share some of those moments with them, which has been pretty special.
Having them at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, watching us win the gold medal, was a really nice moment for us all.
I’d pretty much given up the dream of playing for Australia. After working as a bricklayer, I had two knee reconstructions because of hockey injuries when I was 20 and 21. I reset and then worked toward becoming an electrician.
The good thing about giving up on the Kookaburras was that it freed me to play some good hockey for Victoria.
It was a great group of guys and we had some good young players coming through. We all got along really well and enjoyed playing together.
I played 10 or 11 years in the Victorian side and we did well every year. However, we’d never won the AHL. Finally, in 2016, we won it, I played pretty well and I guess it was noticed.
On the plane back to Melbourne, our coach, Jay Stacey said, ‘Maybe you’ll want to keep your phone on and keep it loud’, suggesting I could be announced in the national team. Even then I didn’t think much of it.
Sure enough, I got a phone call from Paul Gaudoin, who was coach at the time. Paul said, ‘We’ve got some games against New Zealand coming up. We’d love you to come over for the month beforehand, do some training and play against New Zealand’.
I’d always thought to myself that I just wanted to play one game for Australia. One game would have done me. But I played those games against New Zealand and then got an offer to come to Perth and join the squad for 2017. I’ve been in the team ever since and now I’m aiming for Tokyo. Our Olympic qualifiers start soon.
It was amazing to be called into the Kookas’ squad. It took a while to get my head around.
I remember that day, Dad was at home because he’d hurt his back at work. I drove straight around to his place after I got the call and told him the good news. We had a really nice chat and a celebratory beer together.