Rising Star Tice shining worldwide

by Stephen Findlater

UCD woman Lena Tice will find out this week if she is the first Irish woman to win an International Hockey Federation player of the year award as she is nominated in the Rising Star category.

It follows an incredible year in which she managed to win medals in four different jurisdictions.

It started with double success with UCD, landing the EY Hockey League regular season crown and the Irish Senior Cup before the summer’s groundbreaking World Cup silver medal in London.

Hot on those heels, she jetted off down under for a pre-arranged link-up with North Harbour Hawks – helped by contacts set up by Irish assistant coach Colin Stewart – with whom she won the New Zealand Hockey League.

Less planned was her time in Australia but she jumped at the chance of playing for the ACT Strikers and duly won the player of the tournament as well as a bronze medal.

To cap it off, December brought the Rising Star nomination – alongside Ayeisha McFerran’s Goalkeeping of the Year nod – with the voting running for another couple of days.

Reacting to the news of her inclusion on the five-strong shortlist, Tice told the Dublin Gazette her “initial reaction was total shock”.

“It is of course a real honour but it is really just a reflection of this amazing team, the staff and most of all the teammates I have around me. It was far less of a shock to see Ayeisha be nominated for goalkeeper of the year. No one deserves it more than her!”

She says the volume of success has been truly mind-boggling, particularly when she looks back on this time last year.

“I do set goals. But they are mostly performance related instead of outcome related. Obviously my goal was to get selected for the World Cup and for us as a team to compete at a high level.

“However, I would be lying if I said a World Cup silver medal or medals in Australia and New Zealand were even considered! This year has been a real blessing. I’m incredibly thankful to have had the opportunities that I have and I’m well aware that the timing worked itself out incredibly well for me in order to allow me to go away and play. It’s been amazing for all of us!”

For now, though, there is no time to rest on laurels with Olympic qualification now the target.

“We have a lot of talent and experience in or squad and, more importantly, we have an abundance of drive. So we have put the World Cup to bed and we are totally focused on June 2019 and the Hockey Series Finals.”

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