Schoolgirl named in Black Sticks squad
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.