The history-making hockey girls at Trent College in Long Eaton were being urged to “take their chances” this week as they chased national glory.
For the first time in the college’s history, the U14, U16 and U18 girls’ teams have all qualified for their respective National Championships.
And in doing so, they are the only school in the country to be represented in each of the age-group finals, which take place this week at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre at Olympic Park in London.
The format for the finals is three round-robin pool games, from which the top two teams in each pool progress to the final or third/fourth play-off match.
On the eve of the prestigious tournament, Mark Wadsley, the head of hockey at Trent, had one simple message for all the girls:
“They need to be positive, to enjoy the occasion and to take their chances,” Wadsley said. “I believe all three teams can be competitive, and it would be great if we had at least one team playing for a medal.
“All the girls have fully committed to preparing for these tournaments this term, mixing their academic studies and netball with extra hockey.
“To even have all three teams at the nationals is a great achievement, especially as Trent College is not a huge school, compared to many others. It shows how determined and resilient our girls are to have achieved what they have so far.”
As part of their preparations, the Trent girls received a visit from one of Team GB’s hockey heroes at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio. Alex Danson, who won a gold medal, passed on her expert advice and insight as she put them through their paces on the college’s Astroturf surface.
In addition, the teams have been training once a week, including during half-term, and have contested a few friendly matches against local clubs and universities.
With Trent College also enjoying close links with hockey clubs at Beeston, Belper and Leicester, the girls have been getting plenty of competitive practice.
Wadsley added: “Getting all three teams to the national finals in the same year has been our target over the last five years as we have built and developed girls’ hockey at the college.
“The next step is for our teams to start challenging for the titles, and the experiences they get from playing under pressure as often as possible will stand them in excellent stead for making that step.”