Interview: Rose Keddell, Black Sticks Hockey Player

30.9.15

This week I was lucky enough to sit down with the gorgeous Rose Keddell from the Women’s Black Sticks hockey team. Rose was only 18 years old when she first debuted for the Black Sticks in 2012 and her life has changed a lot since then. We discussed the pressures of playing a high-performance sport at such a young age, how she finds balance in her twenties and why “the top two inches of our bodies are the most important.”

Hi Rose! Firstly, congratulations on qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Does the excited support of friends and family, in a way, add to the pressure to perform?

Thank you! It is super exciting for the team to have qualified. Now begins the hard work to get into the best form we possibly can. I personally won’t know if I am selected in the team of 16 until next year so there is a little way to go yet, but I am trying to focus on the training and games we have leading up to that selection. To be honest, it is the support of family and friends that eases the pressure as they are the ones who are there to support you no matter what the result. It is more the pressure I generate within myself and within the group that fuels the fire to perform. After all the hard work you put in to the build up side of things, you really want nothing more than to have something on the other side to show for it.

You were so young when you first debuted for the Black Sticks in 2012, how long did it take you to adjust to being watched and criticized on a national scale?

It took me a lot longer than I thought it would. I sort of discovered throughout my journey that it was my mental state that affected my performance the most. If my head was elsewhere or too busy worrying about making mistakes, I wasn’t able to focus on the basic task at hand and therefore I struggled to perform at a level I was happy with. On the training pitch I would get ‘stuck in’ as this is where I initially though making mistakes didn’t matter. What I realised is that if you don’t get ‘stuck in’ during big matches, you end up making mistakes anyway because you are too timid and a little bit weak. So, my motto is you may as well have a crack because that way if you don’t nail it, at least you gave it a go and God loves a trier!

What aspect of your life changed the most when you became a professional sports woman?

Haha probably the “life” aspect of life? No, there were quite a few adjustments to my life after making the team, most of which have been progressive in my Black Sticks journey. There is obviously the social side, which dwindles a little when you are training most days and you don’t have the same energy or desire to have a massive night out at the end of the week. That is something that I have just accepted as the status quo, and I’m not overly phased. I have my fun elsewhere, with friends and family doing outdoorsy things and getting out of Auckland for the weekend (you usually feel better on the other side of that too). I’d say I had to grow up pretty fast as well, being in a women’s environment, and organising my life so that I got to trainings on time as well as submitting most university assignments before their due date. Although my schedule is busy and I have had to sacrifice certain things to excel in others, this is the lifestyle I chose for myself and the things I have had to put on hold for now, I look forward to in my later life.

Fitness and nutrition are crucial parts of a sportsperson’s performance and general well being, what do you do to keep your mind just as healthy? Is there anything you would recommend to other young professional athletes?

Your top 2 inches are hugely important not only as an athlete but for anyone in any profession. I guess the main way I keep my mind healthy would be to ensure I create balance in my life. Whether this is switching up my training, grabbing a coffee with friends, spending time with my family or just doing something that has absolutely nothing to do with hockey is generally the way I protect my sanity. If you commit too much time and energy to one thing, the other parts of your life start to disintegrate so it’s important to make sure all of your ducks are in a row and you don’t let one get away on ya! I also think it is crucial to rest and reflect. Taking some time to yourself helps you to re-focus and re-charge so that you avoid a burnout and you can keep your mind on the task at hand.

And lastly, if you could give one piece of advice to your nineteen-year-old self for surviving this decade, what would it be?

Listen to those who have gone through life before you. Take their advice and use it to protect yourself from making the same mistakes. Of course you will take a few steps off the beaten track but wouldn’t it be great to avoid a bit of heartbreak along the way! Also, put down your phone for a few hours each day- it’s hard to believe but there is actually more to life than Instagram (guilty…).