Adele chats to Kerry Ras on Hosting Hockey this week. Kerry has been coaching for Madsen Hockey Academy since 2014. She currently plays for Kearsney Hockey Club. Kerry demonstrates to us that hockey is a way of life. It is impressive how she has not only played at various levels but she has focused on giving back to hockey at grassroots level. Kerry has played for KZN U21 Team, SA U21 Squad, KZN Raiders Outdoor Team, the KZN Masters Ladies A Team. She has also been selected to represent the SA Masters Ladies 45 – 50 years Team at next year’s Masters World Cup.
Adele: How long have you been coaching hockey?
Kerry: Since 2014
Adele: How long have you been coaching for Madsen Hockey Academy?
Kerry: Since 2014
Adele: Which age group do you prefer coaching and what role do you have in this age group?
Kerry: I enjoy coaching the JP age group and I am a Head Coach.
Adele: Who got you in to hockey?
Kerry: I started playing at Junior School.
Adele: You have played for KZN in a number of different age groups. Describe when it all started and tell us about your career and the different teams you represented.
Kerry: Wow ok, hope I can remember it all. My first provincial team I made was the Midlands (now Inland) U18B school team, that was in Gr 11. I then made the Midlands A team and captained it in Matric. I also played Midlands U21 indoor for a few years.
I then moved down to Durban, where I played in the Natal U21 team for two years coached by Adele and that year we won our IPT! I made the SA U21 Squad and attended a number of camps. I played in the Natal Ladies A team, coached by Paddy as well as in the Natal Mynahs Indoor team for a few years. I also played in the Southern Gauteng B Indoor team and the Southern’s Ladies outdoor team. More recently I have played in the KZN Masters Ladies A team and last year made the SA Masters Ladies 45 – 50 year team, we were supposed to be playing in the Masters World Cup in Cape Town in September but sadly this has been moved to next year.
Adele: Name one of your career highlights.
Kerry: Winning the U21 IPT in Joburg.
Adele: You were recently selected for the South African Masters team in an age grouping which is due to take place in November. Tell us about the tournament, the team and the training that took place prior to selection.
Kerry: Masters Tournaments are held every two years all around the world. This year the tournament was to be held in Cape Town, sadly it has been postponed to September next year. Because it was going to be held in our beautiful country I decided to stand for a team. Teams are selected in age groups starting from 35 yrs going all the way up to Grand Masters who are in their 60’s and 70’s. I have always played some sort of sport in my life and I love hockey because it is a team sport. There is something about belonging to a team and playing for that team! So, the process started. There were a number of trials held all over the country, Cape Town, Gauteng and then at our IPT last year in Gauteng. When the squad was announced we were given a strict diet and fitness plan as well as specific skills training! Which at our age was a huge wake up call. We had to submit weekly running times. Once a month we were tested by the team at the Sharks academy, we were timed in a few different hockey related drills as well as a caliper test (which we called a FAT TEST!) as well as a weigh in. As you can imagine this caused a lot of laughs. But the competitive edge was there to keep you going. In March this year all the SA Masters Mens and Womens squads met in Gauteng for a camp, fitness testing and a final set of trials where the teams were announced. It was such an amazing weekend. There were close to 350 players there. On the Friday evening we were all put through our paces with the fitness testing, the highlight was a group Beep Test, they had approximately all 350 people on one astro doing a beep test at the same time. I made the 45 – 50 year team, I turn 50 in 2021.
Adele: You were a player in the KZN U21 team when I was the coach and we won the tournament that year. How has the game changed since those days?
Kerry: Yes, we did and what a fun and happy IPT that was. We had a brilliant coach! Well, we had only been playing on astro for about 2 years then so in terms of the speed and skill of the game it has changed dramatically. Queensmead was the only astro, so everyone practiced there, some of our club games were still on grass. I think playing on Astro has been one of Hockey’s biggest game changes. A lot of the rules have also changed, making the game faster and it is now very much an exciting spectator sport.
Adele: What advice do you have for young aspiring hockey players?
Kerry: I think always remember why you play hockey and why you love the game. It is a skillful and competitive game, and a team sport, hockey is not just a game you play at school you can play it for many years on. So many friendships are made on a hockey field. Always be tough and fair on the field and treat everyone there with respect.
Adele: Describe something that we don’t know about you.
Kerry: I absolutely love the beach and I was a lifesaver when I was much younger.
Adele: You have been a senior Coach with Madsen Hockey for many years. How has Madsen Hockey Academy evolved in the time that you have coaching at the academy?
Kerry: I think one of the things I love about Madsen Hockey is how Adele keeps her coaches inspired and keeps them striving to find new ways to approach coaching. She takes a keen interest in each individual coach making them question why and how. I think through the years we have found what works and doesn’t work.
Adele: How do you see the academy gearing and operating in the “new normal?”
Kerry: This is really where us sports coaches need to start thinking out of the box. Technology is going to have a huge impact on reaching our players. We now all know about ZOOM!! Through platforms like this, coaches are able to coach as well as to watch and correct any individual skills a player is learning. I think there are going to be a lot of individual or small group sessions going forward. I think there are pros and cons to coaching like this nothing beats the human connection but with these new platforms like Zoom you are able to grow your coaching network and reach far more players.
Adele: Do you have a role model in hockey coaching or is there an international or provincial coach that you admire?
Kerry: Adele you would definitely be up there from a coaching perspective as well as growing the individual player. Another woman coach I really admire, also from my era that proved herself on the field and now as a coach is Lindsey Wright (nee Carlisle).
Adele: Being Women’s Month do you think that there are enough up and coming women’s coaches in the game?
Kerry: I think they are starting to filter through but there could be so many more. Starting at the bottom at school level you find more women coaches and as you get higher in the ranks it seems more men take on the role. I would like to see more of the national players worldwide once retired to take on coaching roles, especially at the provincial levels.