Orange is the new red and black for Kirsten Petrie

8 June 2017

Dr Kirsten Petrie coaching hockey team

Some people might say Acting Dean of Health, Sport and Human Performance Dr Kirsten Petrie is mad about hockey. This is because Kirsten’s passion for the sport runs deep, having played for Canterbury age group teams, and now evident from her considerable involvement with Midlands Hockey.

Kirsten is currently the assistant coach of the Midlands Under 18 women’s squad, as well as head coach of the University of Waikato Premier Women’s team which includes current Black Stick and Hillary Scholar Natasha Fitzsimmons.

Drawing on her background in physical education and over 30 years of coaching, Kirsten also plays a developmental role for Midlands, contributing to workshops and mentoring as a way to enhance the capability of other coaches and players. At the same time, Kirsten is on a Hockey NZ's Strategic Delivery Review steering group, charged with looking at the future of the sport.

“We will be reviewing everything from competition structure and umpiring, to player wellbeing and development. We’ll also consider how we can grow the sport in New Zealand and cater to the diverse needs of the community.”

While all of this is completely voluntary, Kirsten sees her involvement as a way to “stay in touch with the realities of sport and the lives of young people, and ensure that what we do in our ‘ivory towers’ is equally applicable in the real world," she says.

“My involvement in the sport has a direct correlation with what I do for the University. It’s a vital relationship. It allows me to give back to the sporting community, but likewise as an educator and researcher I get so much in return."

Kirsten sees the University’s link with regional hockey as a strategic no-brainer. “Not only are many of our students playing on these teams, but the University is making inroads nationally as a leader in the fields of health, sport and human performance, and we want to build on that,” she says.

“Having a foot in both the community and academic camps is beneficial, and I think it helps bridge the often perceived divide between the university and the community.”

Midlands Hockey and the University are intrinsically linked. Midlands is the catchment that covers Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Counties-Manukau; one of seven hockey regions in New Zealand. The University currently sponsors the Under 21 men’s and women’s squads, both of which carry a number of current Waikato students. The teams competed at the National U21 tournament last month, with the women’s team winning the competition for the second year in a row, and the men’s team coming fourth. A good result for the University and Midland’s hockey.

The U18 nationals are in Whangarei next month, so Kirsten is busy preparing for the trip north along with the head coach, Waikato masters graduate and ex-Hillary scholar Kate Kernaghan, and team manager, Waikato PhD candidate Meryl Hoskens. Kirsten is relieved that Midlands players wear orange, instead of the traditional Waikato colours.

“It's a real stretch for me as a staunch Cantabrian to pull on the red, yellow and black strip!”