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Suzie Yates

Hockey sticks and wind in her hair, Suzie's back where she belongs

Don't take Suzie Yates, 41, too literally when she says she feels like those dogs that poke their heads out car windows. It's just that the thrill of playing hockey again after a 24 year break makes her feel as exuberant as a playful pup.

Suzie was your typical sports parent – shouting sideline coaching comments. So, when her daughters' hockey coach Charlotte Robb approached, she fully expected to be told to shut her mouth. Instead she was asked to play in a women's summer league hockey team.

"I was so chuffed to be asked, I couldn't say no. I had forgotten, of course, the tiny little fact that I hadn't played hockey since I was 17" she says.

One year later, she's match fit, playing with enthusiasm, and also coaches hockey at her daughters' school.

She hadn't played the game since leaving school and realised she had to improve her fitness quickly. She started by increasing the walks she did each day – to school, to the dairy, delivering circulars. Soon she joined friends for a regular run together. She also started running between letterboxes on her deliveries.

"All the hard work paid off during my first game on the wing. The way I felt was amazing. Picture a dog with its head out the car window, tongue hanging out, grinning as the wind whips past – that's pretty much me, though not as hairy. The rush I get from being part of a competitive team is just huge."

Suzie's inspiration is seeing her children's enthusiasm for sport – daughters Eleanor, 10, and Emily, 9 play hockey, and son Ben, 7, plays rugby. Positive comments from them and husband Geoff Postlethwaite keep her training and playing.

"If the children hadn't been playing sport, I wouldn't have been either," Suzie says. "We have mini practices at home, and down at the park. There's also the satisfaction of surprising people who see you as just another middle-aged mum. It's great to see their reaction when I mention that I play hockey."

Suzie's advice for others is to start slowly and be realistic about their expectations. Training with a buddy is good because it's hard to change your mind without letting down a friend.

Suzie's life has changed immensely in the past year. "Much to my surprise, they asked me to join the winter grass grade team. I have been amazed at the difference it has made to me. Sometimes as a mum, you have to be a little selfish and put your own needs first. Often you just need a push in the right direction to make this happen."

If you're interested in playing hockey, contact Hockey New Zealand (www.hockeynz.org.nz).

 

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