Breadcrumbs

From hockey field to graduation stage

17 April 2018

Natasha playing for the Black Sticks at the 2017 Trans-Tasman Trophy. Photo: Planet Hockey

When hockey champion Natasha Fitzsimons graduates at Claudelands next week, she can proudly reflect on her long list of achievements over the past three years: making the Black Sticks squad, placing second in the 2017 Hockey World League and captaining the Malaysian series, all while balancing her Bachelor of Health, Sport and Human Performance at the University of Waikato.

Originally from West Auckland, Natasha moved to Hamilton in 2014, drawn to the University of Waikato’s practical degree and strong reputation. She had been dropped from the Black Sticks squad the previous year, and was determined to turn her hockey career around. Natasha committed herself to training and was re-selected in the Black Sticks in her second year at the University.

A hands-on learner, Natasha enjoyed applying her studies to real life, and says her degree helped her to improve her hockey and teamwork skills.

“Studying high performance sport changed my approach to training, both physically and mentally. I became more self-aware and learnt the best way to interact with other team members, which is so important in hockey.”

Natasha received Waikato’s Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship in recognition of her sporting achievement, academic abilities, and leadership skills. Covering all her fees, the scholarship allowed Natasha to focus on her two passions: hockey and study.

“The Hillary scholarship took the financial burden out of the equation, allowing me to focus on improving my performance on the field and in the classroom.”

Throughout her three years at University, Natasha travelled the world with the Black Sticks, while playing locally with the Midlands women’s team. She captained the New Zealand team in the Malaysian series and received the University of Waikato Sportswoman of the Year Blues Award last year.

Currently coaching the Waikato Diocesan Team, Natasha is back at the University, studying a Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Secondary). She is looking forward to passing her knowledge on to developing athletes as a teacher and hopes to return to the University to complete her Masters one day.


Latest stories

Related stories

Researchers address inequities in diabetes treatment for Māori and Pacific people

University of Waikato researchers are undertaking a pivotal study into the treatment of patients with…

Esports arena

University of Waikato launches New Zealand’s first Esports minor qualification

With three out of every four New Zealanders now involved in video gaming, the University…

Ross Lawrenson

Pacific women lag behind in access to breast cancer care and treatment

The cost of breast cancer treatment is increasing as results continue to vary between Pacific…

Holly Thorpe

New study to look at how women have coped during the pandemic

How New Zealand women have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the strategies they…

sam-fellows

Scholarships a springboard to a brighter future for Sam

Sam Fellows received several scholarships during his studies at Waikato, which he credits with helping…

All Blacks

New research shows how Covid-19 lockdowns affected the world’s athletes

How have Covid-19 lockdowns affected the world’s athletes? It’s a question that 111 researchers from…

Shaun Kirkham

Hard work and dedication a winning combo for alumnus and Olympian

Fresh from winning an Olympic Gold medal, Shaun Kirkham is using his experience as a…

Pouring kava

New study on kava drink-driving shows impact on brain function

New research into the effect of drinking kava on driving has revealed it has a…

The price of gold — what high-performance sport in NZ must learn from the Olivia Podmore tragedy

The sudden death this week of track cyclist Olivia Podmore has rocked New Zealand’s high-performance…

brooke-neal-speaking-at-event

From burnout to balance - prioritising wellbeing as an elite athlete

Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship alumna and former Black Stick Brooke Neal is on a mission…

A passion for sports science: Dr Shannon O’Donnell

While the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are playing out half a world away, a group…

The hot science cooling down our athletes at the Tokyo Olympics

When Stephen Fenemor was a boy, growing up in Motueka at the top of the…