Elena rack­ing up ap­pear­ances

Wicklow People (Arklow) - - SPORT - DANIEL GOR­MAN Sports re­porter

TO have 110 caps for your coun­try in any sport is a phe­nom­e­nal achieve­ment. To have those 110 caps split across two sports is a mind-bog­gling achieve­ment. To have done it all be­fore your 20th birth­day is a mind-blow­ing achieve­ment.

Is this even pos­si­ble? Step for­ward Elena Tice. English-born Elena spent three years in her fa­ther’s home­land be­fore set­tling in Gle­nealy at the age of nine af­ter some time in the USA and Aus­tria. Their losses proved to be our gain.

Just four years af­ter set­ting up shop in Gle­nealy - where her mother Scar­lett was born and raised - Elena was re­ceiv­ing the first of her 60 se­nior Ire­land cricket caps at the ten­der age of 13. Fast-for­ward 59 more caps and Elena swapped the cricket oval for the hockey field.She re­cently earned her 50th cap de­spite her in­ter­na­tional ca­reer not even reach­ing its sec­ond an­niver­sary yet. De­spite stand­ing for Amhrán na bhFiann 110 times al­ready, it has lost none of its magic on the UCD stu­dent who kisses her teen years goodbye to­mor­row (Thurs­day, Novem­ber 16).

“It’s ac­tu­ally a bit sur­real! You rack up caps quicker in hockey. I played cricket for about five years and got 50 caps. I’m ab­so­lutely de­lighted but there’s girls on the team with 250 caps so it seems like a very small amount com­pared to them but ob­vi­ously I’m de­lighted and to get it be­fore my 20th birth­day was a bit spe­cial I guess.

“Ev­ery time that you put on the jersey, it’s spe­cial. You don’t know when the last time could be. You have to re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it ev­ery time and I think I def­i­nitely do. It never gets old. It doesn’t mat­ter what kind of game it is, whether it’s a key World Cup qual­i­fier or a game against Scot­land, you have to ap­pre­i­ci­ate it ev­ery sin­gle time.”

De­spite hav­ing a birth­day to­mor­row, cel­e­bra­tions will be low-key. She will most likely en­joy a nice din­ner but she will also have train­ing and a big match on Sun­day to plan for so there’ll be no night-out for her, some­thing her loyal friends have be­come ac­cus­tomed to.

“I’ve been do­ing it for a while now so I guess they’re kind of used to it. They’re all ex­tremely sup­port­ive and they’d kind of rock out and watch it ev­ery now and then which is nice but it is a dif­fer­ent life­style I guess!”

Hav­ing ac­crued 50 caps in 18 months, if Tice could the­o­ret­i­cally con­tinue this pace she would man­age to reach 500 caps in 13 and a half years - some­thing not com­pletely out of reach for the young­ster. But it’s qual­ity rather than quan­tity that she dreams about.

“There’s more and more fix­tures these days so for the likes of Shirley McCay who has 250 caps, she started play­ing when she was 17 I think but they just wouldn’t have had as many fix­tures so it would have taken her longer.

“These days though you can defin­tely rack them up a bit quicker which is ex­cit­ing. I don’t think I’ve ever thought like that in terms of caps to be hon­est. You kind of just think about things you want to get to in­stead like I want to get to a World Cup and I want to get to an Olympics - caps don’t re­ally come into that.”

De­spite reach­ing a cen­tury of caps across both sports, she is far from a house­hold name. The me­dia cov­er­age af­forded to her team is min­i­mal but she feels it is im­prov­ing and they hope to make the na­tion stand up and take no­tice at the World Cup in Lon­don next July.

“I think it is def­i­nitely get­ting bet­ter. The fact is, it isn’t like play­ing rugby for the Irish men’s team, it’s just not the same. But it def­i­nitely is grow­ing and and all you hope for is that it will lead to more and more young girls play­ing hockey and the more that hap­pens, the bet­ter a job you’ll think you’re do­ing be­cause the in­ter­est is com­ing from some­where and as the sport grows, it will be more fol­low­ing and more hype.

“Win­ning it would be an ex­tremely suc­cess­ful World Cup yeah but we want to get out of our group def­i­nitely. You have to ba­si­cally not fin­ish last in your group of four then you ad­vance to the next stage but we’ll be go­ing out to win ev­ery sin­gle game and we be­lieve that we can cause a few shocks.

“We’ll be hop­ing to fin­ish as high as pos­si­ble and we can def­i­nitely get out of our group.”

With her hockey ca­reer, Eco­nomics stud­ies and a so­cial life all to at­tend to, Elena doesn’t have enough hours in the day to pine for her first love, cricket.

“I guess I don’t re­ally have time to miss it at the mo­ment but I’d love to play a few games. It’s hard at the mo­ment though be­cause you have to worry about in­juries but I def­i­nitely miss the girls, I’ve a lot of great friends on the team who I wouldn’t get to see very much now.” What does the next 10 years hold for Elena Tice? “I would love to have gone to an Olympics or maybe even two if the op­por­tu­nity arises. I don’t know how long my ca­reer will be, no­body does, there’s other things I want to do as well. I’ll have to just wait and see what God’s plans are for me and en­joy play­ing hockey in the mean­time.”

Elena Tice, who has 110 caps for her coun­try be­tween cricket and hockey.

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