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Something I’ve discovered over the years is that my work on and off the field overlaps quite a lot. There is personal interaction, teamwork, goal-setting and motivational work in both my sporting and nursing spheres.

 

At the hospital I sit with patients and chat with them, get to know them a bit and build relationships, which is very important in an elite team environment as well. Together with physios, occupational therapists and doctors, we get the patients motivated to go to therapy or training, just like in hockey, even if their tasks involve learning to swallow, use their hands or walk.

 

 

Through nursing and hockey I became an ambassador for RUOK? and have seen other areas of crossover, particularly on visits up north to mining areas where I’ve given talks to fly-in fly-out work forces.

 

I sometimes travel up there with my Hockeyroos teammate Ash Nelson and we try and teach strategies around communication, planning and other aspects of life that are challenging when you’re away from home.

 

The key thing about that sort of environment is that you’re spending more time with your co-workers than your family, so everyone has to look out for each other and support one another.

 

 

It’s similar to our hockey world. We’ve all had to pack up and move to Perth and be away from our support networks. We’re travelling for anywhere up to three months a year and spend more time with teammates than family.

 

I know first-hand about both worlds, as my partner Ben is a fly-in fly-out worker. There are plenty of challenges. My goal in the mental health space is to share my experience in learning to have those meaningful conversations and sharing our knowledge about mental health.

 

 

A notable milestone

There has always been plenty going on in my life, but hockey, no doubt, has been a huge part. This weekend I’ll play my 200th game for Australia, a milestone I’m very proud of.

 

Hockey came into my life when my grade six teacher encouraged me to try it. They had some gear at the school and I played goalkeeper and as a field player. Shortly afterwards, I tried out for the state team as both and they selected me as a goalie and it went from there. I suppose I kind of just fell into it.

 

I think I was OK at goalkeeper because, having played a number of other sports, I wasn’t afraid to throw myself around. Also, I have an older brother who roughed me up a bit in the backyard at home and encouraged my competitive spirit.

 

It can be a dangerous position. Over the years I’ve been mostly lucky and have escaped serious injury.

 

The interesting thing is, while we have a reputation for being crazy, I think goalkeepers are the smart ones - we’re the only players who have protection.

 

 

I couldn’t have it any other way. Working boosts me on so many levels. Not least, helping people going through such a tough time gives me a sense of deep purpose and gratitude.

 

One of the disadvantages of being a goalkeeper is that you spend quite a lot of time on the bench or even out of the team. There’s one spot on the field for a goalkeeper and, traditionally in Australia, we’ve tended to share the position around.

 

Since I made my debut there’s been something like 400 games, so I’ve only played about half of them. In a way, it makes reaching 200 games feel like an even bigger source of personal pride.

 

There have been many great moments along the way, probably the best of which were winning gold medals at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games, both in shootouts.

 

In India, I played a big role, which felt great. But, in 2014, when we scored with seconds remaining in the final to equalise, it was perhaps an even better feeling. I have a little highlights video of that event and I watch it really regularly because I just love that we got to share that great winning moment together.

 

Of course, there have been times of disappointment, the top of that list being our sixth place finish at the Rio Olympics. But the positive memories I have will always shine a bit brighter. To do great things with your friends on a hockey field is a wonderful feeling.

 

 

To play my 200th match as part of the FIH Pro League is notable because I think this league is going to do wonders for hockey. From a team perspective, the league has provided us with an experience that I would include in my list of favourite achievements. Playing in Melbourne last month, we managed to do something we haven’t done in more than 10 years - beat Holland.

 

There aren’t many things in life where you chase something for that length of time, so it was an amazing feeling of satisfaction to get that win.

 

The Dutch have been so consistently strong over the years, really a level above for a long time. We’ve had this long-standing belief that we could beat them and to finally do it gives our squad a great belief and realisation that we can beat any team in the world.

 

I’m so proud to still be able to represent my country and do what I love and I will be forever grateful for the friendships I’ve made, the people who have supported me and the opportunities I’ve had.

 

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