New Plymouth Boys' High School's double hockey victory
15 Aug 2018
A high school hockey team have become double champions after beating the Taranaki premier men's club team and taking out the top spot in a school-level tournament.
Last week the New Plymouth Boys' High School (NPBHS) first XI hockey team won the Men's Premier Finals and the Super 8 High Schools Tournament, both for the first time.
Coach Jamie Stones said beating Hamilton Boys' High School in the Super 8 final and Stratford A Team in the Men's Premier Final was a huge confidence boost for the team who were heading to a national tournament in September.
"Knowing we had never won the Super 8 Hockey shield was always in the back of our minds through the week, so to do it for the first time since its inception in 1998 and also to win it in front of a home crowd was huge.
"The boys have worked extremely hard to get to where they are at the moment and should be extremely proud of what they have achieved to date."
Co-captain of the NPBHS team Tom Nicholls helped lead the team to victory.
"Tom worked very hard throughout the summer break to ensure he was physically ready for the season and this has showed as he has put together some outstanding performances through the year both for school and the Central Under 18 team," Stones said.
"Tom's biggest asset is his calmness under pressure he really thrives under pressure and enjoys being on the big stage."
Nicholls has been selected for the NZU18 Identification Squad and is attending the NZU18 Development Camp in December.
He will be joined by two more Taranaki hockey players, Anna Crowley and Hope Ralph who have also been selected to attend the NZU21 camp which is in October, potentially leaving them unavailable for the NZU18 camp.
18-year-old Crowley says her biggest challenge will be the "speed of the game" given it is the top 32 players of her age group, even though this is her second time attending.
"You've got to be fitter and smarter when you play," she said.
Crowley is studying sport and exercise at Massey University's Palmerston North campus and hopes to further her studies and become a PE teacher.
Although she wants to see how far she can get with a career in hockey and believes this opportunity can push her forward.
Ralph began playing hockey at 4-years-old after watching her mum play.
Taranaki Hockey Coaching Director and former Black Stick Ben Collier says it's a great opportunity for the three teenagers and is looking forward to see how their skills develop.
"The selection of Tom, Anna and Hope is fantastic for our young players in Taranaki who can see a pathway if they aspire for greater honours,
"All three of these players have developed through various age group Taranaki, Central and school teams and have now been recognised nationally,
"It is great vindication for all of the coaches that have put effort into these players and inspiration for younger players who are also going through the same pathway."
The NZU18 camp is from December 15-21 with the location yet to be announced.
Stuff - Brianna McIlraith