Iwanuscha holds onto hockey dreams
RESERVE Creek right-half Karen Iwanuscha has joined the illustrious list of Tweed Border Hockey stars to grace the international stage, and in doing so has fulfilled a life-long dream.
With selection in the Australian over-45 ladies team, Iwanuscha will join Burringbar’s Matthew Butturini (open men) and Bogangar’s Lorelle Morrisey (over-35 women) in the battle with New Zealand for next year’s TransTasman Cup.
“It’s a dream come true,” she said.
“It’s still a bit of a shock to be honest and hasn’t fully sunk in, but when the gear starts arriving I think I may get a little overwhelmed.
“I’ve played at state level for years, but ever since I began playing I’ve wanted to represent my country and now I finally have the chance.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get there, but it’s finally paid off.”
The former Mount St Patrick pupil earned her call-up with a commanding performance at the National Women’s Veterans Hockey Tournament in Tasmania last month.
Iwanuscha’s impenetrable defence proved priceless, as Queensland advanced through to the major showdown undefeated.
Traditionally a right-half, the veteran hockey star’s experience was called upon to play left half, centre half and deep fullback and she didn’t disappoint, earning two Player of the Match awards, along with the coveted Coach’s Player of the Tournament title.
“To pick up a couple of Player of the Match awards along the way was a great honour, as my team-mates voted on it,” Iwanuscha said.
“To then be named Player of the Tournament by my coach before we headed out for the final was a real surprise, an outstanding honour I didn’t expect.
“Getting named in the national side just topped off a great tournament.”
Unfortunately in the grand final, Queensland was upset by Victoria 2-1 in a penalty shoot-out, after battling out a hard-fought draw through full and extra time. Regardless, Iwanuscha had done enough to impress selectors and warrant the trip to Newcastle in May.
However with selection comes responsibility, and Iwanuscha wants to make certain she’s at her best for the big three-Test series.
“Normally at state level we train a fair bit in Brisbane beforehand, but as this is national, it’s a little harder and more expensive to co-ordinate,” she said. “We’re just going to have a couple of days training down south in the days leading up to the event.
“I’m sure I’ll get a fitness program to maintain, but ultimately it comes down to me to stay motivated and train hard.”
Iwanuscha has also impressed on the local front in 2009, picking up Mullumbimby’s Player of the Year for Division One, and overall Club Person of the Year.