Five junior Fraser Coast hockey players to play for state
HOCKEY: Fraser Coast will be well represented when Queensland takes the field for the Hockey Australia Under-13s National Championships in Hobart.
We caught up with five young guns who hope to make their mark in Maroon as they face the best from across Australia.
An athlete who excels in several sport, Daniella, 12, is excited to take on the role of striker for her team at this week's national championships in Hobart.
The Maryborough Brothers player said she preferred left-inner - more time with the ball, more decision-making and a better opportunity to generate scoring chances - but she is more than happy to take on the role as one of Queensland's chief goalscorers.
"Mum was just looking at the list on the couch and she jumped up and was screaming,” she said, reliving the moment she learnt of selection.
"It was special. Dad, Lucas my little brother, everyone was really happy. To be selected out of thousands of girls ... it's awesome to wear the maroon. Only 30 kids get to wear it - it's very important. You're representing your state.”
Daniella admitted it wouldn't sink in until she took the field for the first time in Hobart.
Her club side won its under-14 grand final 5-0, but state selection in a sport she's played since six might be the year's highlight.
Daniella is busy when it comes to sport.
"Athletics, basketball, netball, swimming,” she said. "After this I'll be representing Wide Bay in athletics. I made four Wide Bay sides this year - triathlon, basketball, hockey and athletics. Going from training to training to training, it's pretty busy.”
Midfield, striker - throw Meka anywhere on the field and you know she will put in 100 per cent.
The Year 7 St Mary's College Maryborough student is expecting her own team, Queensland, to be the toughest at this week's Hockey Australia under-13s national championships in Hobart.
"New South Wales,” she said when asked who she thought would be their toughest rival.
"Brisbane knocked us out in the semi finals at state and Mackay got us in the next game. We went out there hard but we were pretty happy with the result.”
Meka has made the state schoolgirls team for the past two years, but this will be the first time the Granville junior, who played in two divisions for Wallaroos, will play for Queensland's under-13s team.
"We didn't have Granville under-14s team so I played for Wallaroos there and in under-17s and we finished first,” Meka said.
Meka, who started playing hockey when she was five, isn't quite old enough to play in the senior divisions yet, but that could be on the cards next year.
It could mean she lines up alongside mum Erin in the Granville jersey she's so proudly worn for years.
Playing together in the local competition would merely be an extension of the time they spend playing together in the backyard - training sessions that could prove vital for Meka's national title campaign.
If you look for one of the most active midfielders on the field you might just be watching Preston doing what he does best.
The 13-year-old St Mary's College student plays for Maryborough Brothers in the local competition, and he can comfortably slot into the play-making role for any side in which he's selected.
"You get to run around, lots of ball time,” Preston said, explaining why he loved to play in the midfield.
"You only have very little time, you have players on you straight away. You get the ball, you get rid of the ball.
"I look up before I get the ball but I have a lot of good players around me so I can give it to them.
"We're all friends, we know where each other will be.”
Preston was clear when asked on his thoughts of the national titles, particularly in his assessment of the strongest rival state.
"It's going to be tough, NSW are going to be good,” he said.
"If we play well we'll go good (sic).
"I played for Queensland schoolboys last year, we were third overall but it was close.
"We've got a good team on paper but we have to perform.”
Preston has played since he was five years old, following his older siblings into the sport.
Who is best in the backyard?
"I think I am,” he said with a cheeky grin.
When you look at Leila Steffan's weekly schedule its clear to see hockey is the best thing in her world.
Steffan plays for four teams in Maryborough District Hockey Association competitions, and will this week wear the maroon of Queensland at the Hockey Australia Under-13s National Championships in Hobart, Tasmania.
While she expects slightly cooler conditions to what she usually experiences at the Heritage City, she cannot wait to lace the boots, pull on the maroon and take the field against the best juniors from across Australia.
"I'm very, very excited,” she said. "It's been a couple of months now, about five.
"The state titles were fun. We finished fourth overall but were first in our pool. We lost to Brisbane in the semi-final then another team.”
Steffan plays for Uniteds, and has played hockey since she was just four years old.
"My great grandparents, my mum, my entire family (played),” she said. "My great grandmother (Betty Hilliard) started Uniteds. I play U14s, U17s, Division and Division 1.
"I was playing for the club, and then I started to practise at home every afternoon.”
The Aldridge State High School student plays striker and midfield, but prefers striker because she likes to be at the front of the field and running in space.
This Aldridge State High School student might play fullback and centre-half, but for Taryn Knight it's really not important where she is on the field.
"I don't really mind to be honest, just as long as I'm playing,” Knight said.
She started playing hockey for Tinana when she was five years old, and this year played for the club's Division 1 and 2 teams.
In under-14s, she and her teammates finished third.
Her love for hockey - which is clear given the number of teams she plays for and the hours she spends at the field - comes from the simplest of places.
"It's fun - just the competition, how fun it is and being able to work as a team.”
When she isn't playing on Maryborough Hockey's turf or grass fields, you're still likely to find Knight with a hockey stick in her hands, ball on the ground, and aiming at goals.
"In the afternoons I'll go out to the path with my dad and play a game of hockey on the road,” she said.
"We just set up markers for the goals, and have to move them out of the way when cars come past.”
That simple enjoyment of hockey is what has helped equip Knight, who expects a tough challenge in Hobart, with the skills to earn state caps for the past two years.