Swifts strengthen club with injection of keen teenagers
HOCKEY: When Swifts launch their latest A-Grade campaign on Saturday night at the Ipswich Hockey Complex, the team will feature exciting talent and seasoned performers.
The Bluebirds will also have a new A-Grade coach, showcasing the club's strong family ties.
Former Norths player and premiership-winning Reserve Grade and junior coach Brett Petersen has been actively working with Swifts in recent seasons.
"I'm keen to help the club out. I've been involved with women and juniors for a few years,'' he said.
Apart from wanting to see Swifts continue boosting their club numbers, Petersen has an added motivation this season.
Having turned 14 in February, Brett's daughter Hayley will start her first full season as A-Grade goalkeeper after making three state teams in the past six months.
Hayley earned state under-13 honours in hockey and indoor hockey before her latest selection in an under-15 team travelling to Narellan in NSW next month.
Hayley's cousin and good friend Lile Lenaghan has also enjoyed a spate of junior representative success the past year.
The pair were part of Queensland's under-13 team that contested last year's national titles in Hobart. They continued that partnership with the Queensland under-13 indoor side for the nationals in Goulburn in January.
Lile, 13, will join the A-Grade squad for experience while playing an important role in Swifts' Reserve Grade team this year.
After trialling with Hayley for the Queensland under-15 side, Lile was named a shadow player.
Swifts coach Brett is pleased to see such promising teenagers developing their careers.
Hayley played four A-Grade games towards the end of last season while still 13.
"As parents, we were a bit concerned about her stepping up from C-Grade to A-Grade but she had the talent to do it and we really didn't push her,'' Brett said.
"She was keen. She absolutely loved it. She trained that much it wasn't funny.''
The new coach was delighted to have experienced players like long-time captain Bridget McLean and club founding member Susie "Foxie'' Marcussen back to guide the youngsters stepping into higher ranks.
"We've kept the majority of the squad,'' Petersen said, preparing for Saturday night's first game against defending premiers Wests at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.
"The club wants to go forward and give some of that experience to the talented kids coming through.''
He's also welcomed former Norths striker Rachael Mantell after she started training with the Bluebirds.
The A-Grade squad began training earlier this season to work on fitness, one of the key areas Swifts identified as needing to improve on this year.
"The girls have really been putting in,'' Petersen said.
As for his commitment, Petersen was willing to coach after working with Adam Spry last season following a knee operation that ended his playing
He loves the strong family connections at Swifts. "We live and breathe hockey,'' he said.
Deb Sanderson will manage the A-Grade team this year.
Sunday's A-Grade matches feature Hancocks against Norths in the men's game at 5.30pm, following the 4pm women's clash between the same clubs.