Lauren learning to become an elite player
WHEN she completes her school studies, Lauren Hess would like to combine teaching with her love of sport.
Becoming a PE teacher would be the perfect fit for one of Ipswich's rapidly emerging representative prospects.
However, for the rest of her current holidays, she'll be focusing on helping Queensland at the national under-18 hockey titles in Tasmania.
Hess, who recently turned 16, is off to Launceston on Wednesday along with other highly regarded Ipswich teenagers Gabby Nicholls and Layla Eleison.
For year 11 West Moreton Anglican College student Hess, the tournament continues her steady rise through the representative ranks.
Hess was chosen in the South West Queensland Lumberjills side for the past two Super League championships. The youth-laden Lumberjills came fourth at last month's latest titles.
"Super League was good fun, especially for me. I was like one of the younger ones,'' Hess said.
"The older girls are really supportive and stuff, and it felt really good to be part of the team.''
Lining up for Queensland in under-18 ranks is her next mission, having played for Ipswich club side Wests on Saturday afternoon.
The competitive teenager was disappointed with her team's 2-2 draw with Bellbowrie, especially given the number of chances last year's grand final runners-up had to win.
Eden Jackat scored both Wests' goals after Hess had netted a double the previous week in beating Swifts 2-0.
On Saturday, big improvers Bellbowrie equalised and held on.
That disappointment aside, Hess is enjoying her elevation to A-grade after consistent success in juniors.
"I moved to Wests last year (from Norths) and it's definitely such a good atmosphere,'' she said.
"All the girls, we've gelled really really well, especially for the newer girls. It's our second year all together.''
The young Wests side improved dramatically last season, making the grand final against Hancocks after winning the mid-season and Combined Competition (with Toowoomba) finals.
Hess said working with master coach Brent Nicholls and his wife Amy as a player this season was beneficial after international umpire and former A-grade player Steve Rogers was also a mentor last year.
"They definitely know what they are talking about,'' Hess said.
"And it was good having Dodger (Rogers) last year. He was so knowledgable and that really helped my development I reckon.''
As for her future representative goals, Hess is keen to see where hockey carries her.
"I take it as it comes,'' she said.
"I think I'm very lucky with the opportunities and my parents' support as well, helping me out.''
She's decided to play in the Ipswich competition, rather than in Brisbane, while completing her studies at WestMAC.
"My dad said to focus on school work as well,'' Hess said.
Given her talents and future focus, Hess looks to be striking the right balance.