Grandmother and granddaughter share state team successes
ANY time a grandmother and her granddaughter are still playing sport, it's a fine family feat.
However, when they each make a state team in the same season, it's something to cherish.
That's the case for long-time Ipswich hockey supporter June Nicholls and her rapidly rising granddaughter Gabby.
June is preparing to represent the Queensland over 60's team at the national titles in Brisbane at the end of September.
Gabby, who turns 15 this month, has already been part of Queensland's number one under-15 team, which won the gold medal at this year's Australian championships at the Gold Coast.
Gabby made her first state under-15 side as a 13-year-old.
The Wests' A-grade striker is this year also in the Queensland under-18 squad for the second time, chosen to trial in February for the next national titles.
Before that big opportunity, Gabby will represent the Ipswich under 15s at the state titles on the Sunshine Coast in mid-September.
"It's a special thing to have,'' June said of sharing state representation with her granddaughter.
"It's a nice family thing because both Brent and Vanessa (June and husband Steve's children) have both represented Queensland in hockey as well.''
After enjoying premiership success in the late 1990s and early 2000s with Wests, Brent is back co-coaching the Magpies A-grade team.
His daughter Gabby has become one of the rising young stars in this year's team challenging for grand final honours.
"Really over the last few years, we've been going away with Gab and that's really thrilling to watch her play,'' June said.
"She's been to Hobart a couple of times and to Adelaide a couple of times.''
June, who plays for Vets in the Ipswich competition, has made state teams on four occasions over a number of years since over 40s.
With the national masters titles in Brisbane this year, the fullback/halfback was keen to try again for Queensland honours.
She continues to enjoy what hockey offers for fun and as a fine family sport.
"I've played since I was eight and might have missed two seasons in all that time,'' Brassall-based June said.
"I've been virtually injury free. I have had a few injuries but never missed a whole season.''
June's husband Steve, popularly known as Nick, was a former Ipswich representative in football and karate.
But June's long association with Wests Hockey Club quickly rubbed off on the children.
Gabby is continuing the fine Nicholls' traditions.
Before this year's busy representative program, Gabby had also gained state selection at under-13 club and Queensland under-12 schoolgirls level.
She was learning hockey virtually from when she could walk.
"I've just grown up with it and just loved it,'' Gabby said, sounding croaky having suffered some bronchitis.
While she's proud of what Gabby is achieving, June's message remains simple.
"Enjoy it. That's all. Everything else is a bonus,'' June said.
"If you're enjoying it and in a good team, that's all that matters.''
That's a strong motto that has served the Nicholls family well.
QUEENSLAND hockey representatives June and Gabby Nicholls share more than state honours.
They are coaching the Wests' C-grade girls team together in this year's Ipswich competition.
But when asked if the grandmother and grandaughter help each other as players, June smiled. "Gab's a little too quick for me,'' June said.
"I went to Queensland training last night with the vets and that's much more my pace.''
While a more defensive role suits June, Gabby has become a genuine speedster and regular goal scorer.
It's a fine combination to help the Wests' juniors they coach.