Hockey players scooped the supreme accolades at both the recent Hawke’s Bay and Auckland secondary school awards, with Napier Girls’ High School’s Kaitlin Cotter and St Cuthbert’s College’s Katie Doar recognised at their regions’ awards night.
Kaitlin and Katie, along with Olivia Shannon, who is also year 13 age but left Iona College in the Hawke’s Bay at the start of this year to finish her schooling by correspondence, are the three current school-age players in the Black Sticks training squad.
Since winning the supreme award, the female sportsperson award, the female hockey player award and the Jarrod Cunningham Youth Sports Trust Scholarship award at the Hawke’s Bay awards night, Kaitlin has been dividing her time between home and Auckland.
She is in full training mode with both the 25-strong senior Black Sticks squad and the New Zealand Women’s U21 team, while also having the small matter of NCEA exams on now too. “I had my first exam on Wednesday and I have got three more to go between now and the end of the month – I am sitting some up here at St Cuthbert’s College and then I am flying home for two of them,” she told College Sport Media.
At the start of December the New Zealand U21 team heads over to Canberra to play a tri-series with their Australian and Indian counterparts.
Kaitlin, Katie, Olivia and Holly Pearson (ex-Sacred Heart, New Plymouth) are the four players involved with both the U21 and senior Black Sticks squad.
Kaitlin was selected in the Black Sticks squad earlier this year and has played three practice games for the team, whilst a member of the national development squad last summer.
Kaitlin is a striker. She was the leading goal scorer at the National U18 tournament in Wellington in July, scoring 11 goals and playing a leading role in helping her Central side win a three-peat of titles.
She said this was a highlight of her year. “We won that tournament for the third year in a row and I have been part of that team for all three years, so that was pretty special.”
The Central team got beaten 2-4 by Auckland in pool play, but reversed that result in the final by beating them 3-0.
She also played up front with her younger sister Hannah, also a striker and year 11 at Napier Girls’ High School.
“It was different being one of the older players this year and helping the younger ones coming through or in the team for the first time, including my sister. And working with the two coaches Verity Sharland and Georgia Barnett was pretty cool.
Kaitlin (two) and Hannah were the goal scorers in the 3-0 final win against Auckland.
Incidentally, there is a third Cotter playing the same position as well. “My brother is in his last year of intermediate and we convinced him to play hockey this year and he went to the AIMS Games and they won the six-a-side tournament. He was playing striker too.”
In three years in the Central U18 team at this tournament, Kaitlin played 18 matches and scored 22 goals. She was this year’s Central Hockey Women’s U18 Player of the Year.
Kaitlin also played her second season for the Central Senior Women’s team in the National Hockey League (NHL).
“We ended up finishing fourth, but it was pretty cool to play with and against Black Sticks, such as Kayla Whitelock in my team and Gemma McCaw who plays for Midlands.”
Central were beaten finalists by North Harbour in In the 2018 NHL tournament, but Kaitlin was the joint leading goal scorer with seven.
Kaitlin’s fifth and final year with the Napier Girls’ High School First XI team was memorable from a local competition perspective, but less so nationally.
“We have played Iona College in the past few finals, as well as last year’s Federation Cup final, and we hadn’t managed to win any of them. But we won the title this year.”
Indeed Napier GHS won all 10 Hawke’s Bay competition matches in 2019, scoring 44 goals and conceding four.
In the NZSS Federation Cup tournament that followed, Napier GHS were ninth – with Kaitlin spending much of the week on the sideline, as she explained:
“On the first day we had two pool games and in the second game I tweaked my hamstring, so that put that me out for the rest of the week apart from the last game I played a couple of minutes just to play my last match for school.”
“The overall result was not as good as we were hoping for, especially coming second the year before, but we were still pretty happy with it in the end and we got back up after losing so it was okay.”
After winning their three pool games, Napier GHS lost their quarter-final match to Whangarei Girls’ High School 1-2, which put them out of Federation Cup contention. They then beat Feilding High School 2-1 (penalty shootout), Baradene College 4-2 and Palmerston North Girls’ High School 3-2.
As well as hockey, Kaitlin has a background in other sports.
“I have played hockey since primary school, and I have also done swimming and surf life saving competitively, but I decided to focus on hockey in my second year of secondary school.”
This year she was Napier GHS’s sports prefect, a role she enjoyed.
“We have a sports prefect and a deputy, who was Charlotte Minor and who I worked with during the year, and it was enjoyable helping to organise events throughout the year and getting to know some of the younger sporting girls coming through.”
Next year she is looking at doing part-time study at AUT in sports health and physical education.
College Sport Media (CSNZ) thanks the One Foundation for their support in 2019.
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