A FEATHER IN HER CAP
Elena racking up appearances
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.