School­girl named in Black Sticks squad

Hastings Leader - - News -

Hawke’s Bay school­girl Olivia Shan­non has been named in the 2019 Black Sticks Squad and, at just 17, is one the youngest play­ers ever se­lected.

This caps off a re­mark­able year for Olivia, one of the stars of the Iona 1st XI Hockey team crowned the Hawke’s Bay Cham­pi­ons for the third year in a row and first place in the elite Fed­er­a­tion Cup tour­na­ment where she was also top goal scorer for 2018 with a to­tal of 16. To end the 2018 sea­son ranked No 1 in New Zealand was a new best for Iona hockey, as well as a first for a Hawke’s Bay sec­ondary school.

Olivia also won the Van­tage Na­tional Un­der 18 Cham­pi­onship play­ing for the Cen­tral Districts U18 team, and was run­ner-up at the Ford NHL for the Cen­tral My­sticks where she was named the tour­na­ment MVP.

In Oc­to­ber she was awarded the Cen­tral Hockey U18 Women’s Player of the Year.

“I’ve al­ways been an ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive per­son, and my goal is to rep­re­sent New Zealand at the ma­jor hockey tour­na­ments such as World League, Com­mon­wealth and Olympic Games,” Olivia says. “Hockey has fu­elled this pas­sion and ever since I picked up my first stick I was de­ter­mined to put my all into it.”

Re­ceiv­ing the news that she had been se­lected as a Black Stick and be­ing one step closer to her Olympic dream was an emo­tional time for Olivia.

“I screamed, cried and started shak­ing, so it was a pretty un­real feel­ing.”

Olivia is grate­ful to Iona Col­lege for en­cour­age­ment and aca­demic sup­port to en­sure she was able to bal­ance hockey with her Level 2 NCEA re­quire­ments. She sat her fi­nal exam this week be­fore join­ing the Auck­land­based Black Sticks at their first train­ing camp next week. Next year, as a Year 13 stu­dent, Olivia will be study­ing by cor­re­spon­dence, which she knows will re­quire a greater de­gree of dis­ci­pline, but she sees this as pos­i­tive in es­tab­lish­ing good rou­tines be­fore uni­ver­sity where she in­tends to study Sports Science and Hu­man Nu­tri­tion.

“I think the best ad­vice I can give is to have self-be­lief — be­lieve in your­self and sur­round your­self with pos­i­tive and sup­port­ive peo­ple, those who give you that extra edge,” she said when asked for ad­vice for young play­ers hop­ing to fol­low in her foot­steps.

“Set goals, use your self-be­lief to achieve them and don’t stop once you have achieved — just keep set­ting new ones which will give you the mo­ti­va­tion to keep go­ing.”

Olivia is also quick to credit her coaches, fam­ily and friends with helping her to achieve her goals.

“I’ve had the best sup­port team that any ath­lete could ask for, and I think that that has helped me get to where I am to­day. I have had the most knowl­edge­able coaches, and I have been part of some in­cred­i­ble teams that have re­ally sup­ported me. Also, friends and fam­ily, both in Hawke’s Bay and back at home in Feild­ing, have given me the extra mo­ti­va­tion and con­fi­dence to al­ways put my best foot for­ward.”

She says her big­gest sup­port­ers are par­ents Rachel and Greg Shan­non and brother Ben, who have been there from the be­gin­ning, sup­ported her fi­nan­cially, and been through the highs and lows.

“A great deal of Olivia’s suc­cess is of her own mak­ing. Her ded­i­ca­tion, train­ing com­mit­ment, sheer grit and hard work have got her to where she is to­day,” says Iona di­rec­tor of sport, Hal­lie Sul­li­van.

“Iona is sad­dened to be farewelling such a great ath­lete and role model, but we are all in­cred­i­bly proud of her achieve­ments.”

Olivia joins two other un­capped play­ers in the squad, with sev­eral proven in­ter­na­tional per­form­ers in­clud­ing Stacey Michelsen and Sam Charl­ton as the squad’s most capped play­ers.

Iona 1st XI Striker Olivia Shan­non has been se­lected for the Black Sticks.

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