Strength to strength
By GREGOR MACTAGGARTmactaggartg@gladstoneobserver.com.au
GLADSTONE could have a future Hockeyroo on its hands if young star Rachael Nicol is anything to go by.
The 12-year-old Sparks player has just settled back in at home after representing Queensland under-13s at the Australian Girls Invitational Carnival held in Ipswich.
Queensland finished runner-up at the carnival, winning three of their five matches and only losing to eventual winners ACT.
Nicol said the opportunity to represent her state was an honour and she was pleased with how she performed.
"I was really happy to play for Queensland, I enjoyed the whole week,'' Nicol said.
"I played pretty well, the games were a lot quicker than I am used to, but I handled that okay.''
Nicol was the only Gladstone player selected in the Maroons team for the carnival.
She was picked following her standout performances in June's state championships held in the harbour city.
Nicol described the national competition as an eye-opener and one that is sure to help her in the future.
"The girls from the other states are a lot stronger than I was, so that took some adjusting to.
"We also had to use ice and warm baths after every game, that was also something different for me,'' she said . Nicol played every match at her regular club position of half, a midfield role which players need to have plenty of skill and vision to play in.
"To play at half was nice, that is where I play for Sparks, so that helped me,'' she said.
Nicol is now enjoying some time off from hockey, which gives her a chance to reflect on a huge year. Not only did she represent her state, but Nicol also made her A1 women's debut, won the under-15 premiership and was named Sparks' most promising junior.
And backing Rachael every step of the way are parents Ian and Alison who made the long trek to Ipswich to watch her in action.
"Mum and Dad are the best, they were down in Ipswich to watch me and are just great,'' she said.