ORANGE’S Dutch hockey sensation Ellen Van Hoek arrived in Australia as part of a student exchange program with Orange High School 10 months ago without any hockey gear.
No stick. No shin pads. Nothing.
Not once did the talented fullback think she’d come to Australia and play hockey.
Now, nearly a year on, having starred with Kinross-CYMS in this year’s women’s Premier League Hockey competition, she is hoping to go out a state champion.
Van Hoek will represent Orange over the next three days at the 2012 Hockey NSW Under 18s Field State Championships in Bathurst before flying back to Holland in two weeks’ time having completed her student exchange program.
It’s been the experience of a lifetime.
“The hockey in Orange is awesome. It’s amazing. Miss [Michelle] Barrett, the first day of school came into my class and asked if I played hockey. They provided me with all of my hockey stuff,” Van Hoek said.
“It was so sweet. It was awesome.”
But nothing would compare with a state championship win on Sunday.
“Definitely. The Western team was so unlucky,” the 18-year-old said of Orange’s 1-0 loss to Bathurst at the Western Conference championship last weekend.
“I really wish we came first them but we’ve just got to do it now.”
Orange will take on Nepean in their first game today at 8am.
They’re then back on the field at 2.15pm to play Illawarra.
Tomorrow the team plays Parramatta at 8am before backing up and taking on hosts Bathurst in their final pool A, division one match at 1pm.
Semi-finals and the grand final are on Sunday.
It’s set to be some of the toughest hockey Van Hoek has played.
But she can’t wait to get out there.
“I’m so excited, a bit nervous too but I’m mainly excited. I’m looking forward to it,” she said.
“I don’t know the other teams but [coach] Dave [Watson] said it will be tough. But we’ll be alright because we’ve played together and trained together so we know each other. We’ll be right.”