Sara’s deserved national reward after NRL, AFL experience
CELEBRATING her first national success as head coach, Sara Rogers also has a better understanding of what the NRL and AFL teams are enduring during COVID restrictions.
After initially fearing the Queensland under-18 women would miss the latest Australian hockey tournament in Tasmania, Rogers oversaw the team's unbeaten performance.
Queensland won the gold medal match against Victoria after sudden death shootouts.
That was Queensland's sixth victory to go with a 0-0 draw with NSW in the qualifying rounds.
But just to get to Launceston to contest the championships was a feat in itself.
Just before Easter, the Greater Brisbane area including Ipswich went into the three-day lockdown.
Rogers was rightly concerned her team would have to withdraw or face difficult quarantine restrictions if they were able to travel.
It was only on Easter Saturday that the Queenslanders were cleared to fly out on Wednesday night, just in time for the start of the nationals on Thursday.
After all the anxiety, Rogers praised her team for a superb undefeated effort.
"It was very much a scramble,'' she said.
"We missed four training days before we started the tournament.
"It wasn't an ideal prep but it was better than not playing at all.''
After what the Queensland under-18 women experienced, Rogers gained an appreciation what the NRL and AFL teams have to do at short notice to keep their competitions running.
"It is the way of the world now with any elite team,'' she said. "You fly in, fly out.''
Despite the dramas, the Hancocks A-Grade men's and women's coach received a personal reward after being assistant coach of the Queensland's under-18 women combination which won the 2019 national title.
"It was a lot of work. We've been prepping probably since the end of last year for this,'' Rogers said.
She hopes to continue pursuing her higher level coaching goals with Queensland.
"It is results driven coaching so winning a national championship will go a long way to retaining a job for next year,'' she said.
Rogers said having a number of under-18 players familiar with each other at the latest tournament was a major factor in Queensland's success.
"It wasn't like we had too many girls come into the squad that didn't know each other,'' she said.
Debuting as head Queensland coach, Rogers fulfilled extra responsibilities.
"It was just making sure we were all on the same page,'' she said.
"They are all very talented girls and they are all very committed so it was mainly getting us all working together.''
Rogers said the additional demands of state coaching could be draining.
"I always find coaching harder than playing,'' she said.
"There is a lot of videos, a lot of video evidence. We watch that back at night and all the pre-game stuff.''
She said coaching at national level also required people management.
However, the satisfaction is sharing in national title success.
"We were the best team there so to make the final with the players, it was very, very pleasing,'' she said.
The gold medal match was understandably nerve-racking as Queensland gave up a 2-0 lead to have to contest the shootouts.
"I was pretty nervous,'' she said.
"I think I was more nervous towards the end of the actual game.
"We sustained a lot of pressure for a good period of time in that last quarter. We lost two girls to cards and they (Victoria) scored those two goals when we had two players down.
"I was kind of happy that we got the penalties because it was getting tough.''
Rogers returns to coaching club hockey this weekend before representing Ipswich at the State Open championships in Toowoomba from May 1-3.
In the latest Ipswich A-Grade matches, the Hancocks men went down 5-2 to Norths and the Hancocks women beat Thistles 3-1.
The Wests men held out Easts 5-0 with the Wests women drawing 3-3 with Swifts.
STATE OF PLAY
Ipswich Hockey Association Inc results
Men's and boys April 16-18
A Grade: Norths 5 (Zac Profke 3, Blake Douglas 2) d Hancock Brothers 2 (Ryan Smith, Hayden Michel); Wests 5 (Trent Davison 2, Caleb McCoombes, Zac McCoombes, Andrew Horrocks) d Easts 0.
Reserve Grade: Easts 5 (T Woodford 3, A Mantell, A Snook) d Wests 4 (C Pamenter 2, C Jaenke, M Thomas); Norths 7 (L Brown 2, L Lambert 2, A Saric-Pamenter 2, R Baxter) d Hancocks 3 (R Jackwitz 2, B French).
R2 Grade: Norths 2 (T Ross, D Blake) drew Bellbowrie 2 (A Flegg, C Meloury); Wests 6 (S Brown 3, M Thomas, S Meredith, D Goodwin) d Easts Black 2 (Z Chetham, P Malcolm); Hancocks Brothers 6 (J Burns 3, D Pavitt, P Dawson, B Kinnane) d Easts Gold (R Pickering, L McDermott-Parks) 2.
A2 Grade: Easts 2 (J Barnes, A Scott) d Northern Strikers 1 (R Johnstone); Wests 8 (L Alchin 4, N Smith 2, S Brown, C Simpson) d Swifts 2 (C Meloury, W Pascoe).
J1 Grade: Easts 9 (S Morris 4, N O'Connor, T Campbell, N Morris, C Malcolm, L Morris) d Wests Black 2 (S Schoenknecht, I Sinclair); Bellbowrie 5 (J Donald 3, A Bowers, L Bell) d Norths 3 (M Doyle, B Stanke, A Clears) Hancock Brothers 10 (C White 6, O Read 2, W McCormick, M Hogan) d Wests White 0
J2 Grade: Easts Gold 5 (T Campbell 4, L Mantell) d Wests 0; Norths 2 (E Bauer, J Cox) d Easts Black 1 (N Morris).
Women's and girls April 16-18: A Grade - Hancock Brothers 3 (Layla Eleison 2, Elyse Wozencroft) d Thistles 1 (Michaela Hughes); Wests 3 (Gabby Nicholls, Jess Wilkinson, Lauren Hess) drew Swifts 3 (Emma Petersen, Amanda Stacey, Jane Ramsay).
Reserve Grade: Hancock Brothers 3 (C Martinho, L Willie, R Conway) d Bellbowrie 1 (D Ashton-Norton); Norths 2 (E Bartlett, S Parlett) drew Swifts 2 (A Blore, K Dixon); Easts 1 (J Davidson-Fewquandie) drew Wests 1 (P Duncalfe).
R2 Grade: Easts 1 (A Welsh) drew Hancock Brothers 1 (J Acfield); Vets 9 (S Ashton 3, S Francis 2, J Peters 2, S Collins, G Martins) d Norths 0; Bellbowrie Green 4 (G Richardson 2, M Ballangarry, C Casey) d Bellbowrie Gold (D Ashton-Norton) 1.
A2 Grade: Bellbowrie 6 (T McCulloch 2, D Greenlash, A Cousins, K Davis, A McDougall) d Wests 0; Thistles 12 (L Steele 4, K Dutney 2, K Robinson 2, B Pavitt, C Hannah, C Liddell, L Harris) d Swifts 1 (S Baldwin); Veterans 5 (K Pudwell 2, T Sallaway, K Wyman, C Gorton) d Hancock Brothers 1 (E McQueen).
C Grade: Swifts 3 (G Dombroski, A Wells, E West) d Easts 2 (C Memory, D Hollis); Northern Strikers 7 (D Wenzel-Stephan 4, S Wode, E Noga, H Biddle) d Thistles Hancocks 0.
D Grade: Easts 2 (T McPeake, C Memory) drew Wests 2 (L Payne, M Doyle); Hancock Brothers 4 (K Williams, M Brown, M Brown, L Hoskins) d Swifts 0.
E Grade: Easts 3 (J Hanson, L Smith, E Denton) d Thistles 0; Norths 5 (R Jones 4, I Jeffrey) d Wests 0; Swifts 0 drew Hancock Brothers 0.