New Zealand’s goalkeeper Grace O’Hanlon is understandably buzzing about being a part of the Black Sticks women’s squad for the 2019 Oceania Cup.
She is a player that has come on leaps and bounds in the last two years since her move from Australia to the New Zealand, and describes it as the best thing she’s done.
A member of the New Zealand hockey squad which won gold at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Grace believes she has grown as a person, but the immediate task at hand is securing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic berth by winning the Oceanic Cup 2019.
The Dragflick spoke with the ace goalkeeper ahead of the 2019 Oceania Cup tournament to get an insight into her world.

The Interview :

So Grace, tell us something about you. At what age did you start playing hockey. Where were you born. What did you study?

I started playing hockey when I was six years old, in my hometown at Maryborough, Queensland (in Australia). I am a qualified Chemical Process Engineer by profession.

How did you become interested in playing hockey?

Well, Hockey has been a huge sport in my town — Maryborough, Australia and a massive number of the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras players all grew up there, some of whom have captained the national teams and also won multiple gold medals.
So, i guess it just seemed like a natural choice, even though neither my parents nor my siblings are hockey players.


Photo | GT Sports

You moved from playing for the Australia to playing for the Black Sticks. Are you happy with that decision? 

Deciding to move from Australia to New Zealand to pursue my hockey career was a significant and career defining moment in my life.
It was possible thanks to my dual citizenship because my dad is a New Zealand native. I attended the trials in 2016 and was able to make the cut. That move was both the riskiest and most rewarding decision I have ever made.
If I wouldn’t have had made that move, there is a good chance I would be sitting behind a desk doing a 9-5, watching hockey on my phone during my lunch break.

Let’s talk about your parents. Have they always supported your ambition.

I am pretty blessed. My mum is the best person that I know. I know everyone says that – but for me she is definitely my star.
She has always had an “if you’re happy, I’m happy” attitude, and this meant that I was always encouraged to pursue whatever I wanted to do, not just chase conventional tick-box ‘achievements’.
My mum and dad placed more emphasis on being “good” rather than simply being “successful”, and I think this attitude has allowed me to whole-heartedly pursue what I wanted with real passion.


Photo | GT Sports

Tell us about someone that has inspired you the most.

Everyone needs to be inspired and having others inspire you can only have positive effects. Its one of life’s win win things.
So who has inspired me? Well, as a young person, i was very inspired by this player from my hometown, Jenn Morris, who was a double Olympic Gold medallist and who had also captained the Hockeyroos for years.
One of my earliest sporting memories and something i vividly remember is hearing Jenn speak at my school after the 2000 Olympics.

Okay, now on a lighter note, tell us something that you really like doing when not playing hockey. 

I have always been an avid reader. When not playing hockey or working, i love spending time reading. My favourite book is The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde.
I also absolutely LOVE listening to podcasts – the Black Sticks have a ‘Podcast Club’. No Such Thing as a Fish and Radiolab would be my top 2 picks.

Finally, can you share a “Life Lesson Quote” that is relevant to you in your current life

“It gets easier every day. But you have to do it every day. That is the hard part.” — this is a quote by Jogging Baboon from BoJack Horseman.
This became very relevant to me when I started playing international hockey, and training every day. It made me realise that it is easy to get inspired to be better – but it is much, much harder to work hard every day to make it a reality.


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