Harrogate student to lead out her team at national schools hockey finals

Nicole Smith, from , will captain the under 16 hockey team from The Grammar at Leeds (GSAL) next week as they bid for a national schools hockey title.

It is the fourth year running that GSAL has won through to the finals of the England Hockey National Schools Championships for Girls, where they will face seven top school hockey teams from across the country.

Nicole, who plays in goal, has previous experience of playing at this level, having represented her school last year with the under 16s, and prior to that with the under 14s.

To reach the finals, which will be played on 1 and 2 March at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, GSAL had to come through a county round and then the north regional round. Nicole feels the tough competition they faced in the regional round should give the team confidence for the national finals to come.

Nicole said: We had a particularly difficult group in the northern round, and our match against Sedbergh went to penalty flicks. As goalkeeper I look forward to that and I was determined to win after a loss to them last year! Even our younger players stepped up to take flicks which shows great promise, and we came through 3-0 to help us reach the national finals.

The finals should go well, after our competitive regional round we feel a realistic aim is to progress from the group and reach the top four. Personally, my best finish in the nationals was top four with the under 14s so I’m keen to improve on that.

The team have been putting in additional training sessions with their coach Phil Butler, who coaches for Leeds Beckett University and for England and Great Britain Hockey.


Kate Tiffen, GSAL head of hockey, said: The team should feel they can do this, it’s attainable with the right mindset and they have the skills. They’ve worked so hard and the extra training will pay off.



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