Jeremy Edwards isn’t your average primary school teacher; away from the classroom he spends his time training as an elite athlete for the Australian Men’s Field Hockey team, the Kookaburras.
We caught up with Jeremy to find out what it takes to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games…
When did you first start playing hockey and why? I first started playing when I was four or five. One of my older brothers played hockey so he wanted someone to play against. Most of the time around the house we would have little one-on-one games.
Can you describe the journey from keen hobby to the Kookaburras? I started off as a club player. I made the under 15’s State Team when I was 13 and kept playing at my junior state level all the way through to under 21s. I then had a scholarship with the Institute of Sport back home (in Tasmania) when I turned 18. Then it was a matter of playing well enough to get nationally recognised. I just kept plugging away until now.
How did you feel when you finally made the Kookaburras' squad? It felt quite rewarding because it’s a long process when I think back to when I first started. I always aspired to be selected to a national side so it was pretty exciting.
Who have been your inspirations in your career so far? My first inspiration was an ex-Kookaburra, Zain Wright, who went to the same primary school, high school and college that I did in Tassie. He was at the same club that I played for back home as well. He was one of the best players in the state but unfortunately he had really bad hips and had to retire when he was about 27. He was always the one who I aspired to be like when I was younger.
The Australian hockey teams are always a crowd favourite at the Commonwealth Games. Why do you think that is? Since hockey was introduced in the 1998 Comm. Games, the Australian men’s and the women’s teams have done quite well and been quite successful. I think that draws people to the game because they want to see good teams playing well. I think it’s probably the few moments we get where hockey is put front and centre and once people actually see that it’s quite a good sport to watch, hopefully they get into playing it.
How do you handle nerves before a big game? I’m not too bad with it because we’ve had quite a bit of recent practice. I’m not saying I won’t be nervous but I’d say that I’m more excited than nervous at the prospect of playing.
What teams are you looking forward to playing against at the Commonwealth Games? Who will be the toughest competition? I’m looking forward to playing everyone! I’ve never played against South Africa, Scotland or Canada, so that will be something new. New Zealand is always a good test and they’re in our pool so it will be good to get back into the trans-Tasman rivalry. India is always tough and England is always tough. If we get to play them it might not be until play-off rounds so hopefully we are there when the whips are cracking; playing them in a big game would be quite exciting.
What qualities would best describe you? I would say enthusiastic and thorough. I always enjoy playing, I enjoy competition, I enjoy the team morale and I really enjoy high performance sports. I’m a bit of a sports nut so I really like the preparation of the game and all the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes with playing at the top level.
Each of these amazing athletes has fantastic skills and awesome talents—but they also know how important it is to work as a team. They know that they have to look out for each other when they’re playing a game to get the best results. It’s like that in life, too—God has given us all gifts and talents, but he doesn’t want us to just use them for ourselves. He wants us to use them to help others, too: “...use whatever gift he has given you in a way that will best serve others” (I Peter 4:8–10).
Check out this week's issue of Kidzone for more on Hockeyroos player Brooke Peris and other great Comm. Games stuff!
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