• Harbour players who've made the New Zealand Women's Master team: Briar McLeod, Desiree McCracken, Nadia Clews and Ruth Wild.

Master of Hockey

I love my sport: Desiree McCracken

Desiree McCracken was recently selected to play in a three-test trans-Tasman Masters hockey tournament this month. Channel's Christine Young put some questions to Desiree about her route to the Masters team, and her love of sport.

Christine Young: Please tell us about your sporting background and how you got into Masters hockey? 

Desiree McCracken: I started playing hockey at primary school (along with a lot of other sports).  I made the North Shore Hockey rep teams while at primary school and continued to represent North Harbour at the age group levels and National League.  Masters was the next representative grade that I was eligible to play for and it always seemed like a lot of fun with social activities and playing a good level of hockey with friends. I am lucky that I have friends that I played with in the youth representative teams also playing in the masters team. From the National Masters tournament (held in March in Hamilton) they selected New Zealand masters teams to play a trans-Tasman challenge against Australia in the Gold Coast (in May) and I feel very lucky to have been selected to do this.

CY: What drew you to hockey initially? 

DMcC: My older sister was playing netball at primary school and I wanted to play a sport. I was too young for netball, but as hockey was a developing sport was able to play so I did. It started the juggle for my parents of one child playing netball at Onewa and one child playing hockey at Rosedale, both on Saturday mornings.

CY: How long have you been involved? 

DMcC: I started playing hockey at seven for Glamorgan Primary School. I have played for a few clubs on the shore, but mainly ABC and Takapuna. I have also played hockey in England while on my OE, for the Hampstead and Westminster hockey club which was a fantastic way to meet different people and see more of the country.

CY: Do you have a role model who’s inspired you? 

DMcC: When I was young it would have been the Mandy Smiths and Anna Lawrences of the New Zealand team.  I remember a training session at Harbour where Mandy came and taught us how to ‘reverse hit’ the ball.  A skill that I still use now.

CY: What’s the best all-time performance you have ever seen in the world of hockey? 

DMcC: I always enjoy watching the New Zealand teams do well; the girls winning the Commonwealth gold was brilliant.  The best overall experience and performance of hockey I have seen would have to be the Dutch playing the Germans in the Hockey World Cup in 2006 in Mönchengladbach Germany.  Two power houses of hockey and neighbours going head to head with a passionate crowd.  Some of the Dutch fans had big drums which they used to make a lot of noise to support their team.  This game ended up in the 2 all draw, with Germany ultimately winning the world cup.

CY: Have you ever sustained injuries or had any ‘fail’ moments in the sport?

DMcC: Injuries are part and parcel of any sport and I have had a few of them.  One unfortunately one was breaking my heel in the middle of the National League campaign during a warm-up game against a boys’ team.  I have had the standard muscle injuries and broken fingers, but generally have done OK.

CY: Please tell us about your training regime. 

DMcC: Masters have a very relaxed approach to training.  We have one stick training a week and most people play in the mid-week masters competition. For my club we also train once a week and play on the weekend.  I do my own training and enjoy Get Fit Fasts boot camps and Chelsea [Perkin’s] yoga to ensure my wellness.

CY: Please describe the moments that most excite you about playing hockey? 

DMcC: I am at the age now where I enjoy giving back to the younger members in our club.  It is great to see these guys progress to playing top club level hockey (and higher) and excelling at it.  I have enjoyed the odd time that I have trained and played with Black Stick players (within our club environment).  They are such great athletes and I always find myself pushing myself harder with them

CY: If you didn’t play hockey, which other sport would you like to excel at?

DMcC: I’ve always fancied rowing (although not the early mornings).  I would have been great to have given rowing a go in my youth to see what I thought of it J

CY: Who would your dream team-mate be? 

DMcC: Anyone who is passionate about the game on the field, loving playing hard (and winning). They go out and leave it all on the field, knowing that the rest of the team have done the same and then have time to have a social catch up afterwards. 

CY: Please complete this sentence: In five years’ time I hope to… 

DMcC: Still playing hockey – of course. And a passionate supporter (and if I am honest probably coach or manager) of my boys and their teams as they start their sporting journey (even if it isn’t hockey J).