World stage beckons for Ipswich inline hockey star
THE glint in Jess Beahan's eyes is proof she loves representing Australia.
It may not be one of the country's most recognisable sports.
It may even be a sport that defies the Beahan family's well-known passion for football.
However, for the versatile Ipswich sportswoman, wearing the green and gold in this sporting battle is just as important as any other.
And when she competes at the world championships this month, Beahan will savour an experience few Aussies will - playing at the home of the Anaheim Ducks.
Beahan, 25, has been chosen to represent the Australian inline hockey team.
She leaves on Tuesday for a series of warm-up games in California before playing Canada first up in the world championships starting July 15.
Being a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, Ipswich born and bred Beahan would rather play there. However, the Aussie defender is excited about her role at Huntington Beach.
"We get to play in the big arena over there,'' she said.
"I went to America last year for holidays and I watched the Ducks play in that arena.
"I remember saying 'how cool it would be to play in that arena'.
"Then I found out we actually do.''
As she pulls on her impressive national shirt, Beahan looks confident and relaxed.
"There's no better feeling than when you get out there in your Australian colours and that crest on your heart,'' she said.
Beahan scored her first goal for Australia against Italy in a 2009 tournament semi-final in that country.
However, a year later, she endured a sporting low when her left knee required a full reconstruction.
She had played football with Coalstars and the Ipswich Knights since she was four, being one of Ipswich's best female goalkeepers.
She earnt her first representative honours in inline hockey in 2008 before the dreaded injury occurred.
"I missed a lot of time through that,'' she said.
"I was meant to go away last year but I pulled out because mentally I just wasn't ready with my knee.
"It was probably one of the hardest things that I ever had to come back from.
"Physically I was right to go after nine months but it took me nearly two years to get back into inline.''
With that setback behind her, Beahan is ready to again serve her country after impressing for Queensland at last year's national championships in Adelaide.
While she continues to play at elite level for the Knights, she's left the goals and taken on a new role as a defender.
That typifies her willingness to accept a challenge, as she has in devoting her energies to inline hockey.
After that, she hopes to pursue a career in the navy.
INLINE hockey is played on rollerblades with five competitors challenging each other on the smooth playing arena. A plastic puck is pushed around by wooden sticks to score goals.
Ipswich footballer Jess Beahan is one of 12 Australian players chosen for the world titles. "I'm traditionally a goalkeeper but inline is a whole different aspect of my sporting career,'' the former Tivoli and Silkstone student said. "It's a lot faster (than football). It's interchangeable so you're on the rink for 30 seconds to a minute then you're off and back on.
"It's more of a challenge.''
While she expects Canada to be a powerhouse side at the world titles, Beahan is confident Australia can fare well against other pool teams like Brazil, Nambia and New Zealand.
She trains and plays at Browns Plains, after Ipswich lost its inline rink during past floods at Bundamba.