Women's Sport Week: McCallin takes it all in her stride

Shona McCallin in action for GB vs Japan in 2015

In the fourth instalment of our Women in Sport Week features, we take some time out to talk to rising star Shona McCallin about her hockey career and her role models.   

Shona McCallin’s rise to international hockey has taken in an interesting path. She started out, like so many other players, running round a hockey pitch at an early age to burn off some of her energy. McCallin also played football to a good standard and at 14 was faced with a choice between hockey and football. Football’s loss was most certainly hockey’s gain and she went on to captain England U21s to fourth place at the Junior World Cup in Monchengladbach, Germany, in 2013. McCallin also went to study in the Netherlands, undertaking an International Business degree at Tilburg University. Whilst she was over in Holland she also played for MOP under the watchful eye of the great Toon Siepman, a man for whom she has great respect:

“His tactical and technical knowledge is unbelievable, He really helped me when I was out there and I wouldn’t be the player I am without having the chance of working under him.”

On her return from the Netherlands, McCallin has slotted into the England and Great Britain set up and her energetic style and excellent technical skills have ensured she has quickly caught the eye at the top level. For some, the transition from club to international level would be a daunting one, but McCallin seems to have taken it all in her stride:

“I don’t feel I’ve changed a great number of things in terms of how I go about my day and how I do things. I think as I’ve been thrown into the international stage a little the publicity and spotlight has increased so you need to be aware of that a little bit more, but I don’t think there are massive changes, it’s just about going about your day-to-day business in a professional way.”

Shona McCallin drives forwards for GB vs Japan in 2015

Despite her young years, McCallin exudes a sense of calm; she seems to have her feet on the ground and portrays an air of determination. With her international career still in its early stages she says she feels it is “too early" to consider herself a role model, but perhaps that is something that will change with time:

“Hopefully if I have decent career, perhaps in 5-10 years time maybe I can look back and think I was a role model but I’m still young and I don’t have many caps in comparison to others, so I’m still learning and trying to improve.”

Although she may not see herself in those terms, she is aware that in the Great Britain training squad, there are a host of players who can lay a genuine claim to role model status, something McCallin relishes experiencing on a daily basis:

“Every day I come to training and I look around at this group and everyone is a role model in their own different way. There are some experienced players and you look to them for leadership and guidance but I look to other players for different qualities, too. There’s so much energy, enthusiasm, tactical awareness and technical ability, they’re all inspirational in their own way which is very special.”

With the No24 selected to play in the World League Semi-Final next week, with the possibility of Olympic Qualification as an incentive, her international career could well be heading on the right path. As parting shot, McCallin gives her advice to young, aspiring athletes hoping to follow a similar journey:

“The international route to sport is not a smooth one. You have to keep focusing on your end goal. It’s all about simplifying the process and taking each day as it comes, rather than being overwhelmed by it all. You can expect some highs and some lows but you have to just take it as it comes and work with those experiences to make you a stronger and better player.”

McCallin is certainly taking to the challenges she faces with relish, and will surely go from strength to strength. Perhaps that role model status is closer that she thinks.

To find out more about Women's Sport Week, visit the Women in Sport Website.

Keep an eye out on Twitter for #WSW2015 and of course you can visit the England Hockey Facebook and Twitter pages for some of our very own content celebrating the extraordinary women who play our sport.