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Meet Katherine

Reaching Premier League hockey in England

Meet Katherine - she is a Strategy Implementation Manager at DAZN and has just passed her one-year anniversary with the company.

Her life away from work revolves around hockey. She got involved at an early age and spent time in the collegiate environment on a sports scholarship in the States before returning to the UK to set up camp in London. Katherine is currently co-captain for Hampstead & Westminster who compete in the top level of the Women's Hockey League in England.

She has sacrificed a lot in order to reach the Premier League with her team. Read on to learn about her journey to the top...

How did you get into hockey and what has your journey been like?

I played hockey all the way through school and for some clubs as well. I went to Nottingham University and played there and then I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to play in college in America. I did my masters as part of that which was great. It was such a cool experience being part of that collegiate sport environment.

Going abroad and taking advantage of opportunities like this is becoming a bit more common now for up and coming hockey players. I was out there for three years. I then came back, moved to London and joined a club here. This has become a big part of my London life - I actually live with two people who I met at the club.

What level are you playing at currently?

I am co-captain at Hampstead & Westminster. We are a Premier League club - we got promoted last year. We had our debut season in the top league this year. We finished the season before Coronavirus took hold - we came third which was brilliant. The top four teams should have then entered a play-off competition in order to decide the two teams that would represent England in  the European hockey league.

Sadly, those play-offs didn’t happen due to the virus. The season got called based on the final league placings and we narrowly missed out. That was disappointing but in the wider context, I guess it is not too important!

What has been your proudest moment in hockey?

Our promotion came down to the last game of the promotion play-offs. We had narrowly missed out the season before so there was a lot of expectation on our shoulders. We were playing at the Olympic Park in Stratford and there was another game happening at the same time on the pitch next to us. The outcome of these two games would decide who went up. When we realised that we had done it, the feeling was incredible. None of us had experienced anything quite like it. You can’t describe that feeling - you are exhausted, elated and relived all at the same time!

What are your biggest challenges as a captain?

A big challenge for me is how I go about supporting everyone in the team from an emotional perspective. As we climbed up the rankings, we had a lot of new players come in to improve the squad – that had the potential to upset the balance we have as a group.

You’ll also have games when nothing is going your way. Keeping the team united in times like that is a challenge but I know we are a strong group. You have to keep the faith in order to keep the dream alive!

What do you get out of playing hockey?

Team sport has the power to bring like-minded people together. There is something special about it. You form such good friendships. In order to achieve our goals, everyone in group has to commit so much time, effort and passion to it. One of our coaches is Kate Richardson-Walsh and she was the captain of the GB team that won gold at the Olympics in 2016. She has done so much for the sport. When I first joined the club, we had just been promoted into the national league and we were beginning to creep up the ladder. Reaching the Premier League felt like a reward for so many years of commitment and hard work for our group. The fact that we nearly got there the year before and just fell short was in the back of our minds. That just made our success feel even sweeter.