Following a grand final win and multiple sportsperson of the year awards, Miri Maroney is gearing up for her debut in the Hockey One league as part of the reigning champion NSW Pride team.
Miri’s first-time selection in the squad was an exciting step for the 21-year-old who used to idolise those playing at the same level when she was a child.
“This is like little kid dreams,” Miri said. “I remember when I was in under 13s shaking Arrows’ hands and now I’m one of those big ones, it’s very surreal and I’m loving it.
“I’m super excited and ready to get started, that’s for sure.”
She joins an experienced squad of the highest quality players including fellow Illawarra exports such as Maddi Smith and Grace Stewart.
“They’re all really supportive and if I stuff up or something they’re always behind me backing me up and saying, ‘Next one, next one’.
“Especially the older ones, I’ve come into the group being young and being new and they’ve just taken me under their wing and supported me which is really nice and makes my life so much easier,” Miri said.
And with the roster looking strong right across the competition, Maddi said it would be important for newcomer Miri to trust her own abilities.
“It’s just about being really confident – she’s got the speed, so just backing that,” Maddi said. “And there’s a lot of experience in our team so we can definitely give her a hand.
“We really push players to find a role, find what you’re good at and bring that, and bring that really well.”
But the privilege of playing with such a strong group was not simply handed to Miri, who has been pursuing hockey since she was just eight years old, proving herself in different competitions and representative teams.
And she said her success had been made possible by the support and driving force of her family.
“My mum’s always played hockey so she’s always been a big push for me and pushed for me to get stronger and faster and a big advocate for getting to this level,” Miri said.
“She’s just been behind me pushing me forward and even my little sister having that sibling rivalry has always been good for me.
“I’ve needed to be better so she doesn’t catch up.”
Last month she was an integral part of the premiership winning University of Wollongong Hockey Club (UOWHC) first grade women’s side before claiming the UOW Pulse Sports Person of the Year and UOWHC Female Player of the Year awards in recent weeks.
And while her skill continues to grow and she shines in higher levels, Miri said the freedom to try new things and the more relaxed atmosphere made the Illawarra competition one of the highlights of the season.
“I think especially with UOW the community backs you up,” she said. “Whenever you’re out on the field you always hear the crowd cheering you on, always calling your name out and I think that’s a really big push for you to be better and to get stronger.”
That supportive crowd will no doubt make an appearance throughout the Hockey One season with seven local players starring in the men’s side alongside the three women, including fellow debutant Nathan Ackroyd who has also made the team for the first time at the age of 33.
“It was always a goal to try and get back but as you get a bit older and these younger guys are coming through you never really think you’re going to get there so it’s nice to be here,” Nathan said.
The NSW Pride teams will play their first matches in Queensland tomorrow, with their first home game scheduled for 22 October at Sydney Olympic Park.
To find out more or to buy tickets visit the Hockey One website.