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Last minute call up for England

Published on isbi School News dated Wednesday 25th of September 2013

Former Oundle School hockey goalkeeper, Lottie Winnett (18) gained her first cap and a bronze medal playing for England against Holland in the European Championships over the summer.

Lottie commented, 'During my time in the Sixth Form at Oundle I started to get involved in the England Single System for hockey and in my first year in the system I was lucky enough to get to the final stage for the U17 HiPac (High Performance Assessment Camp). This was unexpected as I had no idea how the system worked! This initial success spurred me on to continue in the single system, despite looming A Levels and in January 2013 I was lucky enough to get down to the last 6 goalkeepers for selection for the U18 squad for the summer tournaments.'

After the trial I knew that I was not to be selected; which was a weird feeling. I had never had to compete for my position before, especially against girls who I judged myself to be completely inferior to. At Oundle, I had pushed myself to be better rather than be pushed by other people competing for the same position. I had to make a conscious decision not to be upset or annoyed by this, but to be proud that I had got so far, which whatever anyone says, is very little consolation. So, on the outside I was proud, but internally I was furious and I focused myself on training harder, so that if I ever got the chance again I would be ready to grab it with both hands. This turned out to be great approach for me because I am so competitive and it also led to me really enjoying training with the boys for the rest of the School term! As far as I knew this would be the end of my hopes for U18s, however I was wrong.....'

When travelling to go on holiday in mid-July, Lottie received a call from the manager of the U18 Girls' team and was asked to travel with them to Dublin for the European Championships the following week, as one of the original goalkeepers had been injured.

Lottie continued, 'To say that I daunted by the prospect of this would be a big understatement. In fact I was genuinely tempted to turn down the offer! It took both my Oundle coach, Mr Terrett and goalkeeping coach, Graham Mansel-Grace to make me realise the privilege of the opportunity that I was being offered to play in the premier competition at U18 level in a competition that the U18 girls' team had been training towards for the last 9 months.'

Returning from holiday only 2 days before she was due to fly out to Dublin, Lottie packed and was off.

Lottie continued, 'I was warned beforehand not to underestimate how emotional the matches would be: especially the national anthems, which were played before every match. I don't know one girl from the England team who did not get slightly choked when we sang the anthems, even if they had been playing for the U18 team since the age of 15! On arrival it was explained to me that I would only play if the other goalkeeper was injured - I didn't think that this would bother me, as it was amazing just to be there -but after just two matches it became clear that being on the side-lines was not for me!'

Lottie's chance came in the semi-final match against Holland, when she was substituted on towards the end of the match.

Lottie added, 'Surprisingly I wasn't nervous when I got on the pitch. Instead it was not dissimilar to the feeling of playing a match for Oundle; I felt confident and that I deserved to be there. Amazingly I managed to stay clear headed, communicate clearly and made some good saves, including a diving save to the bottom right corner which in the play that followed almost led to a penalty corner attack for England. At full time, although we had lost the match, I wasn't too upset; instead relieved that when I got my chance to play I had seized it and produced some of the best hockey that I have ever played. I was proud that I hadn't buckled under the pressure of playing in a national stadium for England against, arguably, the best U18 girls' hockey team in the world.'

The bronze medal match against France ended in a draw and went to shuttles.

Lottie concluded, 'Continuing in the England system turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever have made and my England trial in January led to me gaining a sports scholarship to Exeter University. I could not have got so far without the help and support of sports department at Oundle School, who on countless occasions have gone out of their way to help me.'

Head of Hockey at Oundle School, Gareth Terrett commented, 'Lottie fully deserved this opportunity to play for England and I am delighted for her. She showed real strength of character throughout the whole process and it is a pleasure to see that all her hard work and dedication paid off. She was a fantastic goalkeeper at Oundle, as well as a committed and integral part of the team, and I wish her every success in her international career.'

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