Debutant to mentor, reflective Haycroft has gone full circle
CHARLOTTE Calnan will not have far to look if she needs a foretaste of the high and lows that her hockey career could now experience after learning that she is part of the GB’s women’s initial squad for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
All the teenager needs to do is catch the eye and have a chat over a cup of coffee with Sarah Haycroft, her team-mate and club captain at the Investec Premier Division’s league leaders Surbiton.
For since 2012 when, in the aftermath of the London Olympics, she was promoted to the senior squad from being captain of England’s Under21s, Haycroft has been through the highest of mental highs, periods of physical exhaustion and career uncertainties.
But she also smiles when she looks back on her first call up from Hockey’s headquarters at Bisham Abbey.
“After the World Cup in 2012 we did not have a head coach so it was a slightly different process from this year,” she says. “I was named as a triallist for the Rio squad, with the new coach and the full squad to be named in April 2013.
“But early in January that year a squad was sent out to South Africa for the Investec Challenge, which included matches against Holland, South Africa and Australia. I was so excited to be chosen for the trip.
“I had been to South Africa before on a school hockey trip with Kingston Grammar School and fell in love with the hockey out there, the history and country.
“So it was just fantastic to receive my first senior cap playing in our opening match in Cape Town – the hockey ground is unbelievable because it is situated at the foot of Table Mountain.
“To be standing out there on the pitch singing the national anthem before playing my first
full international and to look out behind the stand and see Table Mountain just meant so much to me.”
Calnan could find herself in South Africa, too, in July at a training camp before the World League finals in Johannesburg. But as a 19-year-old ‘part-time’ member of the 2020 squad, she is only one of 33 players competing for one of 18 places in each international starting line-up.
That, however, is an uncer- tainty she will learn to live with in the build-up to Tokyo.
Halcroft says: “There are so many international fixtures that she is not going to be picked for every one. Just because she misses out on one trip or match, it does not mean she won’t be picked for the next one.”
But being a part-timer is also not so physically demanding as the training schedule that Halcroft has to sign up to as a full-time hockey player.
“Charlotte will only have to come to Bisham Abbey twice a week so that she can complete her studies,” she said.
“As a full-time player, I am based there five days a week as well as playing club hockey at the weekend, and we also have two hard training sessions every day.
“That is exhausting – there is many a morning when I wake up aching everywhere. As a part-timer, it’s going to be a lot less painful for Charlotte.”
To look out behind the stand and see Table Mountain in my first full international match just meant so much to me