Who would have thought 100 days till Rio would be so significant?
In an athlete’s mind it was a clear reminder that we had 100 days to perfect those last few skills, 100 days to finalise structures and 100 days till the team was 100% ready to take the field.
The last thing that I thought it would mean was 100 days of rehab and 100 days of knowing that I wouldn’t be going to the Olympics.
As magical as sport can be, it can be equally brutal, something that most athletes know all to well. Sadly as fate would have it 100 days out from the Rio Olympics I tore my Anterior Cruciate Ligament during an intra-squad game for the Hockeyroos.
Above: My partner Aaron and I once I came out of surgery. One of the rare moments where I could keep my eyes open.
It was such an innocuous incident with my right knee giving way as I planted my foot to pass the ball. In hindsight I wish I had been selfish and ignored my free teammate, but clearly my time of having an intact ACL was up. As you can see in the video below it was a remarkably unspectacular event, which is sure to get no more than 10 views on you tube.
For those who have not had the pleasure of tearing their ACL, along with their lateral and medial meniscus, with a dose of torn hamstring in there too; well …….. it bloody hurts. Tears were not shed given there was no room for them, amidst the groans and expletives that were pouring out of my mouth (fortunately not captured on camera).
It was a confusing couple of minutes for me, unsure if I had dislocated my kneecap (which would have been preferable) or torn my ACL. After tearing my ACL in my left knee in 2004 at age 17, I knew that if this was the case then my dream of a second Olympics was over. It may have been the adrenaline or the sheer will to prove that I hadn’t torn my ACL, but soon after the incident I got up and walked off the field with minimal discomfort.
Trying to keep composed I followed Eddie Maguire’s advice and phoned a friend (more specifically my Mum) to take me to the Sports Physician and to get scans to see the true damage. Still trying to play the injury down, I thought it best to help myself to a bowl of sultana bran while watching the rest of the game.
Sadly despite my best efforts my composure and positivity about the whole situation came to a grinding halt. Tests by the Sports Physician indicating a positive full ACL rupture were confirmed by a MRI shortly after.
Being a relatively positive person, I have had many people query if this upset me at all. Short answer is ABSOLUTELY. How could one not be upset?
Since age 5 I have been playing hockey, making my first state team at 14 years and then debuting for the Hockeyroos at 21. That means that I have dedicated 15 years of my life training at a state or international level all with the aim of playing at the Olympics Games. To then not have the opportunity to test and put into place everything that you have worked so hard for is heart breaking. What’s more frustrating is that nothing I do will change the outcome. No matter how hard I rehab, no matter how much I want it, I will not be ready for Rio and that reality is what really hurts.
My leg post surgery taking a rare break from the splint which was my main fashion accessory for 2 -3 weeks post op.
Something that sport has taught me however is resilience. The last few weeks have just been a moment in time albeit a difficult one. What I do know is that I have had moments like this before and have found a way forward to not only be a better hockey player but a better member of society. Hockey is a huge part of my life and will continue to be, however it is not who I am. These next few months will be dedicated to helping the Hockeyroos group I dearly love achieve our team goal, start on my road to rehab and explore different ways and means of remaining involved in women’s sport.
If you’re keen to hear about the intricacies of an ACL rehabilitation then follow my “Road to Rehab” series where I will write what my focuses are week by week, the physical and mental obstacles of rehab life and exercises that I am doing to regain function and fitness. This may be a good tool for those who are also in rehabilitation for an ACL repair, those who work in the area of exercise physiology or people who simply want to know what it takes for an athlete to come back from an extensive injury.
The Western Australian of the Year Awards recognise the highest level of contribution made to Western Australia by those born and bred in Western Australia, or those who have chosen to make Western Australia their home.
There are seven Award categories and for each, one winner is chosen.
The overall Western Australian of the Year Awards winner for 2015 is chosen from amongst the Award category winners.
Sport Award proudly sponsored by Hardy Brothers Jewellers
Recognises excellence in achievement, development, administration or promotion of sport in the Western Australian community.
The 2015 Sport Award finalists are:
Judith Rae Pilatti
Sandgropers, crow eaters, gum suckers, top enders, banana benders, apple eaters, cockroaches & round-about abouters have all taken to sunny Brisbane to fight it out in this years Australian Hockey League. With a different team taking out the tournament in the past 4 years it is set to be a competitive tournament showcasing the best players Australia has to offer both senior and up and coming.
For people interested in knowing more about their team or their opposition here’s a quick summary. (Alphabetically listed)
Australian Capital Territory:
Despite being small in size ACT often packs a punch and has produced quality international players including the likes of past Hockeyroos Katrina Powell and Peta Gallagher. ACT’s best performance recently came in 2004 where they came second to the WA Diamonds. Although they haven’t won the competition in the past 10 years they have been a solid side making the top 4 on a regular basis, and being in contention to take the title. ACT has a talented list including Hockeyroo Edwina Bone who endeavours to break the game open with her fitness and strength on the ball. She will be flanked by previous international young player of the year Anna Flanagan returning from Holland adding an extra element to ACT’s penalty corner attack. Other athletes including Naomi Evans & Jenna Cartwright will be a positive influence through ACT’s midfield/strike line. International imports include talented defender Samantha Charlton from the New Zealand Blacksticks and Kate Gillis, captain of the Canadian hockey team.
New South Wales:
With 2 grand final appearances in the last 3 years without taking out the much coveted AHL trophy, NSW will be looking to make amends this time round. Despite being a youthful team, they certainly have the talent to take out the title if they perform to their potential and on a consistent basis. With the return of Casey Eastham vice captain of the Hockeyroos from Holland, NSW will enjoy having the stability and experience through the midfield. Teams will have to defend well against NSW with talented and experienced forwards Emily Smith, Hollie Webster alongside young gun Mariah Williams featuring in their line up. Developing defender Georgie Morgan will head up the defence for NSW supported by Jocelyn Bartram in the goals.
A lack of athlete numbers has been a long standing problem for the Northern Territory making it difficult to form a side which is in contention for a finals berth. Despite this setback NT has formed a comprehensive side including imports from WA and QLD. Unfortunately due to injury at the recent Commonwealth Games they will not have their star local player Brooke Peris to assist in their AHL endeavours. Although NT has faced the logistical issue of not training together for a long period of time, they have always caused upsets due to their persistent and dogged nature in performance. With a talented ninja in the net AKA Lizzy Duguid, NT will be tough to score against.
Last years winners and regular finals contenders QLD are one of the hot favourites to take out this years honours. With a list of household names in the Hockeyroos side and many talented juniors, they certainly have the lineup for back to back premierships. Led by Hockeyroos captain and experienced AHL campaigner Madonna Blyth, QLD’s midfield will be one of their strengths despite missing other stalwart of the team Teneal Attard under going an extensive rehabilitation program. QLD have the added advantage of having the top quality drag flick services of Jodie Kenny who has recently been in career best form. QLD have a well balanced side of experience and youth with many of their junior players being listed in the 2014 national junior squad. Forward Murphy Allendorf will be one to watch if she finds herself with some space in the attacking circle.
South Australia must have done something wrong, as they have been cursed by injury in lead up to this years AHL. Key forward Georgie “backstick” Parker has been sidelined with a long standing knee issue, while Hockeyroos midfielder Jane Claxton did her best to put herself out of the tournament with a late ankle injury. South Australia had initially done well in their recruiting, lining up Stacey Michelson and Anita Punt from the Blacksticks to play for them this year, but the curse appeared to be trans tasman and have since been ruled out. Fortunately for South Australia they do have depth in the team and will look to senior players Karri McMahon (AHL player of the tournament, 2013) and Holly Evans to instigate attack and ensure a strong defensive structure. Gabi Nance & Miki Spanno will be looking to impress as junior players and may be the additional x-factor’s SA need to get over the line. They will be supported by the lone Blackstick that managed to make it to Brisbane, Petrea Webster, who played at this years Commonwealth Games and World Cup.
The last 4 years hasn’t been a great period of time for the Van Demons battling it out with NT for 7/8th position. But like NT, Tasmania are battlers and have held their own against many of the top four teams with a consistent and determined defence. With the addition of Hockeyroo midfielder Amelia Spence returning from a long term ankle injury, this may just be what Tasmania needs to get them further up the ladder adding some potency to their attack. With four imports (Claire Williams, Renee Taylor, Madeline James, Hannah Reid) hailing from Queensland, Brisbane may just be Tasmania’s second home and should be getting quite some support from the local crowd.
They tasted success in 2012 and would love to repeat that effort. This may a big ask with key midfielder and goal scorer Claire Messent out with a hamstring injury. Experienced viper campaigners Stacia Joseph, Kary Chau and Danni Schubach will look to fill this void, while current Hockeyroo Georgia Nanscawen will be important in creating and scoring goals. Defensively junior national squad player Sam Snow will need to bring her physicality to the table to assist world class goal keeper Rachael Lynch in the net. Although Victoria may not be favourites to win the tournament they relish the underdog title, and proved they can perform against top quality teams comprehesively rolling NSW on the 2012 AHL grand final.
Will be looking to amend their finals loss which went to one on ones v QLD last year. They will be missing experienced campaigners Kobie McGurk and Shelly Liddlelow from last years campaign, however still have a solid lineup across all areas of the field. Jayde Taylor has returned from Holland adding stability to the Diamonds defence which has been strengthened by the return of Hockeyroos goal keeper Ashlee Wells and player of the final 2013 Penny Squibb. WA have many potential future stars throughout the lines however will require a strong AHL performance to put their hands up for further selection in the national program something which WA has struggled with in the past. WA have built a reputation of making finals and consistent performances across the years with 2002 being the last time they weren’t in the top 4.
Not all of the above teams will play against each other with the teams being split into two pools, with the top two teams playing in the final rounds. Those who tune into the games will be privy to seeing the game being played over 4 x 15 minutes quarters, recently introduced by the FIH for broadcasting and marketing purposes.
Below are the following details if you and the family wish to come down and fly the flag for your home state. Alternatively if you can’t make the time to get away from your job you can watch online (while pretending to work). AHL finals will be streamed live – for more details on how to log on head to http://www.hockey.org.au/Events/Australian-Hockey-League/Womens-Fixtures-Teams
Adult – $5.00
Adult weekly pass – $25.00
17 and under – Free
QLD State Hockey Centre
400/420 Lytton Rd
Colmslie QLD 4170
Canberra Labor Club Strikers
SA Southern Suns
Tassie Van Demons
Kokoda, it is a name that resonates and evokes a sense of pride and loss with so many Australians. Despite many not having family members involved in the Kokoda Trail campaign, it would be difficult to find someone who hasn’t contemplated what hardships faced by many young men from a range of countries in Papua New Guinea in 1942.
Words can barely justify how much of a harrowing yet emotionally fulfilling experience Kokoda was for both Rachael and myself. To see just how many young lives were taken far too early from this world was distressing. All men on the trail no matter what ethnicity was a son, brother, husband and father to someone. Knowing so many wives were left to raise their children alone, knowing many daughters no longer had their father to walk them down the aisle and loving parents would be forever hoping for their sons return made that moment profoundly difficult comprehend.
It was at Bomana Cemetery in Port Moresby where many of the soldiers were buried that the significance of our charity walk was put into context for me personally.
As I looked at the countless rows of headstones I realised that there were just as many young men and women in our country every year that have so much to offer but are lost to suicide, leaving their loved ones with the same feelings of unimaginable grief and loss experienced by families over the Kokoda campaign. At that moment I hoped our walk and the money raised would make a difference to someone and their family, even if it was just one.
Day to day living in today’s society has become somewhat of a battlefield. Pressure to make more money, be seen with the right people, to parent well, make ends meet, work to deadlines, have the right body image, be an A grade student, climb the work place ladder plus many more are all stressors which we all place on ourselves in our ever busy lifestyle.
Along side these external pressures, genetic predisposition, chemical imbalances and increase in drug use are all factors contributing to an increase in depression and suicide within Australia. Current statistics indicate that on average there are 6 PEOPLE dying every day from suicide equating to 2,600 individual lives lost per year. Although this is a staggering statistic, what’s equally alarming is the estimated 65,000 suicide attempts in the same year.
We opted to raise funds for the mental health group – RUOK? based on the simplicity of their campaign and the amazing people who have worked tirelessly for the organisation to expand it to a national level. There is no doubt that Australians typically have a bad habit of ‘beating around the bush’ and not being direct with each other, in both questioning and answering during a conversation. If I could donate a $1 to the RUOK? campaign, every time an Australian responds ‘yeah good mate’ when asked ‘how ya goin?’, we would never have to ask the government for more space in the budget again for better mental health care.
RUOK? promotes the idea of being open and also allowing oneself to be vulnerable, which can be hard thing particularly for Australian men who account for up to 75% of the suicide rate. If we can reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and allow individuals to openly and comfortably state that are they are not mentally feeling 100%, it creates so many more opportunities for individuals to seek the help and support before hitting rock bottom.
It is safe to say mental illness is a historically taboo issue, but has now all affected us whether it be yourself, a relative, friend or someone in the public eye dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts. Enough is enough and it is time to come together and deal with the mental illness epidemic that is becoming one of the biggest health issues in our country.
I realise what Rachael and I have just completed is a drop in the ocean but being Australian we all understand the power of water. Many drops of water can create a flood and that is what I hope for, a flood of financial support and people who care enough to take time away from their busy schedule to look each other in the eye and ask the hard question ARE YOU OKAY?
If you are suffering from depression or having suicidal ideations please seek further assistance by contacting Lifeline on #13 11 14 . If you would like more information about RUOK? head to their website https://www.ruok.org.au