In the second Q&A of 2020, Gavin Caney shines the spotlight on talented Pelicans teenager EMILY PLUCK
So, why hockey?
I love the competitiveness of the game but also that I have made friends – not only in my team and in the club but with players from other clubs around the county. It is fun to play in the same team and against them.
Hockey has also helped me keep a good standard of fitness and each game is always different. As I normally play in midfield or defence I am usually working hard to keep the other team from scoring but I do get to score the occasional goal, which is really thrilling.
The team spirit at Pelicans is always supportive and everyone is included. It doesn’t matter whether we win or lose, we still always have a good laugh. I haven’t always found that with different sports I have tried in the past.
What’s the most enjoyable parts about playing hockey?
When someone in the team scores a goal the whole team celebrates and this is a really good feeling.
We have a strong Norfolk county team, which I play in and the atmosphere of us all getting together, even though we play for different clubs, is always incredibly fun.
We have played as a team for about five years and I have made some really good friends.
I think the friendships and memories I have made with all my teams along the way is the most enjoyable part of the game.
Tell us a little about Pelicans – it seems a family friendly club.
Before Pelicans I was involved with other sports and I didn’t always feel included. My mum suggested we try a different sport and we found Pelicans as it was a local club.
As soon as we started we were made to feel part of the Pelicans family. It felt totally different to previous sports clubs and it was clear that as long as you wanted to play or be involved in hockey then you were part of the club.
They have developed my hockey from a young inexperienced junior and taught me lots of skills both on and off the pitch. I have made so many really good friends too.
This year is the club’s 100th anniversary, which is pretty amazing. Pelicans are well respected and have great local support and connections. The club are run by volunteers, who all work hard to keep the club running. I think as long as there are more and more volunteers and people who want to see the club succeed it will always be a great place to be.
We raised funds and were supported to have two brand new pitches installed at our Lynnsport base just over a year ago and they are amazing to play on. I think everyone at the club would like to see a new clubhouse built next to the pitches but this will take a lot of fundraising and local support but would be great to see.
You’ve got a cracking youth set up. Did it help you growing up to see a clear pathway to the first team?
As a junior it was always clear that you would eventually progress to a senior team and you can see the steps through development to get there.
Through the development team and with support from the coaches I was gradually introduced to the full pitch and adult games, which at 13 were very different and exhausting. Tracy Bower was my main development coach and I think I owe a lot of my love of hockey to her.
I really enjoyed my time as a junior and I am still friends with most, if not all, of the other players I started with. Selection for teams takes place every week and if you work and train hard then you can progress up through the teams.
Pelicans aren’t all about being competitive though as not all players want this from the club. But there is room for all whether you want to play competitive hockey in the higher senior teams or enjoy the social and fitness aspect of it more. There is a place for everyone.
I really like that about the club and although I know there are clubs in the county who focus more on the competitive aspect, it isn’t what I want from the sport. I want to make sure I always enjoy my hockey and am very loyal to Pelicans and my team-mates.
You’ve played for Norfolk and had England development trials. Can you tell the difference in standard playing at a higher level?
There is a massive difference between ladies hockey at club, county and performance centre level. I am always nervous about playing at higher levels because I always want to do my best and am definitely an over thinker when it comes to what to expect or what is expected of me. However, I have found those around me are also usually in the same situation, which I take comfort from and it makes me feel less isolated.
I was really excited and nervous to be offered a trial for the England Performance Centre. I have friends who have been accepted, friends who have not and also some who have not made it the first time and worked hard to make it the next time. The experience of the trials was mentally and physically challenging but as an experience there was a lot to take from it for my future.
What’s the long-term aim for you and your hockey as you’ve clearly got lots of potential?
I don’t think I would ever play for a different club as I really consider myself part of the Pelicans family.
I am studying for my A-levels and planning to go to university so would hope to continue to play while at uni. Ultimately, if I can keep playing, wherever I am, I think I would be happy. I plan to keep working hard at my fitness and my hockey skills.
I want to try to keep taking advantage of every opportunity that arises and, of course, want to be able to play at the highest level I can.
I think it is important to make sure that you keep level headed and, before everything, enjoying the game and having fun is the most important thing.
The facts are…
Name: Emily Pluck
Date of birth: 08/10/2003
Birth place: Shrewsbury
Grew up in: Watlington
King’s Ely School
Clubs played for: Always Pelicans Hockey Club or
Norfolk county teams
Current clubs: Pelicans, Norfolk u17s, King’s Ely School first team
Position: Midfield or defence
Sporting hero: No one in particular but inspired by the England hockey women’s team
• Emily helps coaching the Pelicans juniors on Saturday mornings. She says it is really fun to work with the minis because there are some really strong personalities and it’s usually happy chaos. It is also really rewarding to see the youngsters develop and move up through the club.
• The teenager loves food, is always hungry and is grateful for a very good metabolism.
• Emily recently started working at the Bank House in King’s Lynn. This is her first job and she says the staff are great to work with. It is hard but enjoyable work although with homework, hockey and work her weekends can get very busy.
• The Pelicans player is studying for her A-levels (psychology, English and history). She isn’t entirely sure what she wants to do at university but is considering a career in the army.
Restaurant or takeaway?
Night in or night out?
Bath or shower?
Tea or coffee?
Sweet or savoury?
Summer or winter?
Day or night?
Cinema or theatre?
Favourite food: Spaghetti bolognese or chicken nuggets
Least favourite: Chillis or anything spicy
Favourite TV programme: Brooklyn 99
Favourite band/musician: Billie Eilish and Rex Orange County
Least favourite: n/a, broad taste in music
Favourite film: Kill Bill
Answers in italics