LAST LINE: Glee striker Cassie Douglas gives Northern Star goalkeeper Erin McKenzie something to think about in the Far North C
LAST LINE: Glee striker Cassie Douglas gives Northern Star goalkeeper Erin McKenzie something to think about in the Far North C

Goalkeeping: Agility, fitness and strength

By ADAM HICKS

ERIN McKENZIE knows the truth about hockey goalkeepers.

“A lot of people think it’s just sticking a fat person in the goals who can’t run, but it’s not the case,” she said.

Having recently been named the NSW Under-18 goalkeeper, Erin is well qualified to talk about the finer points of her position.

“It’s hard work,” the 16-year-old Lismore High School student said.

“It requires high levels of agility, fitness and strength.

“Agility, because you are always up and down on the ground, sliding, diving and lunging.

“Fitness, because it’s very repetitive, high intensity work.

“Strength, to be able to get yourself up quickly and reset yourself to defend the second and third shot.”

The backbone of Northern Star first grade defence in FNC women’s A-grade, Erin helped her team into the grand final last season.

The Northern Star’s hockey correspondent, Jim Challenor, said Erin was one of the best young hockey players produced in this area for years.

“She’s awesome, fearless. You only have to watch this kid from last year alone,” Challenor said.

“Most teams would be beaten 14-0 with the kind of pressure they (Northern Star) were under. But with Erin in goal the other team was lucky to get away with two.

“They don’t have the strongest attack. The thing that makes a difference, no matter what other teams have, is Erin keeps them in the game.

“A lot of Northern Star’s strength and performance comes from defence and a lot of that comes from Erin in goals. She has the natural talent to read the game.”

Erin has been playing since she was five and moved into goals full-time six years ago.

“I don’t know why, but always from being a little kid I wanted to try it out and have a go,” she said.

Now she loves the stress and pressure of the job.

“It’s a high-pressure role. When the ball is down our end my job is basically to co-ordinate the team, to see the gaps and help our players stand on the man,” she said.

“You get hit (with the ball) a lot.

“The ball always seems to find the places that have no padding.”

Erin must travel to the Sydney area for five training camps before she represents NSW in the Australian Under-18 championships this year.

Challenor said it was a very expensive process for a family from the Far North Coast to have a child play at State level.

“It costs a fortune,” he said.

Challenor urged anyone who could offer financial support to Erin’s representative quest to contact The Northern Star.



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