Four Borders hockey players – Morven and Maris Cawthorn, Leia Mackinnon and Rhona Gowans – are all making an impact on the Scottish hockey scene at Under-16 level.
Thanks to the hard work of coaches Janet Jack and Pippa Bell, who have established a hockey platform that is nurturing talent, the Borders is now well represented at national level.
Sixteen-year-old Morven Cawthorn used to play football, but quickly got into hockey when she started high school. She began training when she was 13 and later honed her game playing for Fjordhus Reivers firsts.
“From the age of 13 I have represented South at U14, U15 and U16 level, and had the privilege of captaining the squad two years ago,” she explained.
Morven was then selected to play for the Scotland U16 development squad and played against Ulster when she was still only 13. In her second year in the U16 Scottish training squad, she has played against the Netherlands, Germany, Wales, Ulster and England.
Morven now also has to cope with her younger sister snapping at her heels.
Maris Cawthorn, only 14, is the latest to join the squad. She first started playing hockey at Selkirk Mini Hockey Club, aged 7. She received the most promising newcomer award and from then on was hooked. When she moved up to the high school she was also inducted into Fjordhus Rievers. Maris was recently selected to join the squad for the upcoming matches against Ireland after training with the older U16 development squad.
Rhona Gowans started playing while in Primary 7 of Balmoral Primary in Galashiels through the Scottish Hockey Cashback come-and-try nights at the town’s Queen’s Centre.
She loved it and from there moved onto Borders Fjordhus Participation Centre at Tweedbank. She was then selected for the Borders Development Squad.
Leia Mackinnon, aged 15, sums up their chosen lifestyle as: “Eat-Sleep-Hockey”.
She has been playing since she started Earlston High School and “hasn’t stopped training since!”
Both Morven and Leia played at the 2013 UK School Games in Sheffield.
“It was an amazing experience to play Wales and Ireland on the iconic Olympic ‘smurf turf’ pitch and come home with a silver medal, knowing that I scored a goal for my country,” added Leia. “At this point I knew that all my hard work, determination, effort and commitment had been well spent.”
All four girls play for Fjordhus Rievers under the guidance of coaches Jack and Bell.
“You talk to any of these girls and it is clear that hockey is their oxygen,” said Jack.
“Undoubtedly, sacrifices have been made and many teenage social events traded for arduous after-school and weekend training sessions.
“Fundraising is also part and parcel of their commitment. However, all of their hard work is paying off as coaches work tirelessly to get the best from their charges and propel them toward the national stage.
“With support and backing from such as The Rowan Boland Memorial Trust, Ettrick and Lauderdale Sports Council and the Athlete Support programme, the future for Borders hockey is looking very good indeed.”
Also joining the U16 girls are Lucy Inglis (Fjordhus Reivers and Earlston HS) and Lucy Ramsay (Watsonians and Kelso HS). Both girls have taken a step-up from the U16 Scottish squad and are also looking for good results when they also play Ireland in Dundee from April 18-20.