Women's Sport Week: The Rising Star

Lily Owsley in action at LVHTC

With Women's Sport Week entering the home straight, we talk to one of the youngest members of the Great Britain squad, Lily Owsley about her role models and her rise to international hockey.

Lily Owsley’s rise to the top of the hockey world has been a meteoric one. A promising 800m runner in her youth, the athletic forward focused her energies on hockey and was fast tracked through the ranks of the junior international sides to the senior squad where she made her debut aged just 19. Now almost two years on, the University of Birmingham star looks back on her journey with a real excitement:

“It was quite a shock to the system going from watching these players at the Olympics, and thinking it was an ambition I’d love to realise some time in the distant future to coming to play in the group was incredible. It doesn’t take long to realise they are normal people but that they are also the most driven, determined and talented players.” she adds “It was a bit scary at first. I got fast-tracked to the U21s which was incredible and then I got moved to the seniors in a relatively short space of time. I was way off the standard of the group when I came in. I was a young, skinny but quick player but I got muscled off the ball and made some mistakes but I love it now and I’m so glad I got the chance.”

For one so young, the transition from schoolgirl to international hockey player seems a daunting one, but Owsley, now a student at the University of Birmingham seems at ease with the change:

“The biggest difference is hockey becomes your life and lifestyle. From playing as a hobby to being a professional, thinking “this is my job now”, it’s such a massive difference. I’d say in the two years I’ve been in the group I’ve changed so much as a person and as a player. I’ve grown to love the programme, the training and of course the rest of the squad. It’s such a great thing to part of. I’ve got bigger, too but most of all I’d like to think I’ve grown as a player.”

For one who has made a rapid transition from watching her role models to playing in the same team as them, Owsley seems to have taken it all in her stride. However, she still has a keen sense of the positive impact some of her idols had on her, and the opportunity to follow suit is certainly not lost on the 20-year-old.

“It’s an amazing feeling knowing you can have a positive effect on someone’s life. I remember looking up to someone like Kelly Holmes. I was an athlete as well as a hockey player and I got to meet her a few times and everything she said is etched in my mind. Even though to her it is probably second nature, it had such an impact on me and it’s stuck with me since. Hopefully I can have a positive impact on someone’s life in or out of sport as I know she did on me.”

With that in mind, the No26 seems well placed to advise the next generation of aspiring stars the route they should take. Her advice is not dissimilar to that of some of her teammates:

“I’d advise young people to try every sport they can. I played anything and everything when I was younger and although some weren’t for me, (such as swimming!) I benefited from giving everything a go. You never know what you’re going be good at until you give it a try. Obviously I’m biased towards hockey because it’s already given me a lot and it’s a sport I love but I’d say to try anything. The skills you’ll gain are so important and more transferable than you realise. Do as many sports as you can for as long as you can and just enjoy yourself.”

Women's Sport Week

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.