Adele chats to Kayla Swanepoel on Hosting Hockey this week. Kayla comes from a family that has always supported hockey in KZN, be it outdoor or indoor. This has instilled a love for hockey in her which can be seen through her playing and coaching career. Kayla played for the Westville Girls 1st team from grade 10 where she was part of the team that went on to beat St Marys in the final at the Spar Regional Hockey Tournament to qualify for the Spar Girls Hockey Final in 2014. She attended 4 PSI Nationals playing for Panthers from u16 to u18, where she won a bronze medal in Durban in 2015 (u18) and she was vice captain in 2016 (u18). She currently coaches Mini Hockey at Gryphons for MHA as well as the u14A Outdoor Hockey Team at Westville Girls High School.
Adele: Describe your hockey playing career.
Kayla: My hockey career is definitely not like the other great players you have interviewed before me, haha. I played all through school which were probably some of my more memorable years. I was a part of the Westville Girls’ High School 1st team for 3 years. In my grade 10 year I was selected for the 1st team which was a very big achievement as there were few of us ‘juniors’ chosen. I was privileged to play alongside my two sisters, Kerryn and Kelsey in my matric year. From 2013 to 2016, I played in various PSI Nationals too. In 2015, our under 18 Panthers team won the bronze medal and in my last tournament I was vice captain of the Panthers team. For club hockey, I currently play for Munies/Collegians Hockey Club. We had a good indoor season and were preparing for outdoor but unfortunately COVID-19 hit and everything came to a sudden stop.
Adele: What was your most memorable moment in your career to date?
Kayla: One stand out moment for me would be winning the Spar Regional Finals in 2014. The tournament was the first time playing for the school’s 1st team so I was so nervous! We were up against St Mary’s in the final, who we lost to earlier on in the day. Intense is an understatement and the pressure was definitely felt. After the final whistle went, the feeling of joy and relief was indescribable. I could not believe that our team pulled off the win. Courtney Slaney had scored for us and we were probably on the defense most of the game, but we proved a lot of people wrong that day! Our team just clicked in that game and we were all playing for each other.
Adele: Describe your coaching career and when you started coaching for Madsen Hockey Academy.
Kayla: I started coaching for Madsen Hockey Academy in 2018. I have loved every minute of coaching. I am grateful to go back and coach Gryphons Mini Hockey where I was also once a player. I also love being able to bring out the potential I see in a player. Coaching for the Madsen’s has also given me the opportunity to go back and coach at my old school which is also fun. Coaching at the Academy has given me so many opportunities. Madsen Hockey Academy is one big family and I know that Adele or any other Head Coach welcomes everyone with open arms.
Adele: In what area of the coaching do you operate in for Madsen Hockey Academy?
Kayla: I am very lucky enough to coach at Gryphons Mini Hockey Club in Westville and not only work with other coaches but with friends and family. At Gryphons, Daniel, Gemma and myself usually work together and coach the group of under 10 and under 11 boys and girls which is always a fun group. I am also the coach of the Westville Girls’ under 14 A indoor and outdoor team.
Adele: What would you say three qualities of a hockey coach are?
Kayla: A coach has to be energetic. Dealing with kids for hours requires a coach to be interactive and involved, it is not just standing on the sidelines and shouting instructions. A coach should be understanding. You have to be mindful that even though you have known a skill for years, the children are only learning it for the first time, and you are there to play the helpful and supportive role. A coach also has to be creative, a coach has to come up with drills and adapt drills to suit the level of your players.
Adele: Who are your playing and coaching role models?
Playing: It would have to be my sisters. Kerryn and Kelsey have accomplished great things in their hockey careers which has just made me want to do better and improve myself. Tegan Fourie is also one of my role models. We have gone through the age groups together and have played in a few of the same teams. I loved playing with her, and I am always amazed when watching her play. Her hard work, determination and skill, I have never seen in any other player before.
Coaching: My coaching role model will have to be Ryan Lees. He was my coach at school. I enjoyed how understanding he was as a coach, never too harsh but not someone we could walk over. He let us have our fun and grow our love for the game.
Adele: Describe something that we don’t know about you.
Kayla: I have a plate in my right arm! I broke my wrist in a club hockey game in a little battle against Jessica Lardant. I had to get a plate put in which is why I have the huge scar on my right arm. If I press in the right spot, I’m sure I can feel one of the pins.
Adele: How did you get started in hockey?
Kayla: My friends. They all wrote their names down on the list for trials all the way back in primary school, so I had to play too.
Adele: How do you see Madsen Hockey Academy moving in to the “new normal” when we get started again?
Kayla: I hope we start again soon! It will be a challenge, but one we’ll get through. I see us having more and more one-on-one coaching sessions as long as we have the time and astro availability. I also think we will have to adjust our drills and group sizes to accommodate for the COVID-19 safety rules and regulations. I think smaller group sizes will be a good thing though as it will allow us as coaches to focus more on the individual player.
Adele: How do you stay up to date with the latest coaching trends and ideas?
Kayla: Being around Adele and the other Head Coaches really help. I feel as though any ideas we do have, we share them with each other and this gives us a chance to develop them even further. Watching coaches from other teams, schools and even watching international matches also gives me inspiration. I also regularly look at the Sport Plan Website for any new drills that I may use or adapt to make it suitable for whoever I may be coaching.