With the national teams set firmly in their sights, Inverell-based hockey-obsessed siblings Tess and Mitchell Stewart are rising stars in the sport.
The pair were both selected for the under-18 New England teams, and had impressive performances in the state championships.
Fresh from a gruelling scholarship with NIAS, 15-year-old Mitchell felt the difference in his game by the time he arrived at the state championships in Bathurst. His regional team came third, after losing just one game in their semi-final.
“I have seen an improvement, and so has pretty much everyone here,” Mitchell said. “I’m a lot more aggressive now.
“Last year I was just backing away, afraid of the ball and stuff. But now I’m trying to take control of the game and trying to get the ball as much as possible to make those quick plays and score as many goals.”
Tess, 17, had a nearly identical result in the state championships in Newcastle – coming third and only losing one game.
“Our team was very aggressive compared to a lot of other teams,” she said. “It was interesting to see all the different teams and how they played."
She noticed that city teams benefited from more regular training sessions, and were more tightly structured, but she felt country teams had more power behind them.
Although the compliments were flowing for both Tess and the team, she still felt she could improve. She is keen to pick up Mitchell’s tighter ball control.
He wants to learn from Tess’ “flat stick” technique.
Tess also took part in the Coffs Harbour mixed nines tournament with the Inverell team, and felt her regular training sessions with Mitchell prepared her for the faster and more aggressive competition. The local team came back with mixed results.
Tess is ready for her next hockey adventure, and will head to Cronulla on June 18, for the CHS state championships, playing for the North West.
She’s a little unsure about the competition at this stage, but says she’ll play her best and try to pick up new skills based on structure and control.
Both siblings hope to one day join their idols in the Australian teams.
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