Hockey: Manager eyes home advantage

By Shane Hurndell

For many professional sports people it's a challenge to keep their work and home life separate.

Their coaches, managers and agents emphasise the need to switch on and switch off when required and take necessary time out. However Hawke's Bay Hockey's new Academy and Reps manager Dean Hulls, who starts the role tomorrow, will be calling on his home life experiences to assist him.

A former English National Hockey League division two player who has been in the Bay since 2002, Hulls has two children. His 13-year-old daughter Georgia is a nationally ranked sprinter and representative hockey player, while his 12-year-old son, according to Hulls, is "a social sportsman who plays for the enjoyment".

"In my children I see both extremes of sporting youngsters and this will help me understand the youngsters I will be dealing with. It's important I help everybody reach the levels they want to," Hulls said.

The former Hastings Boys' High School sports co-ordinator, who has replaced Mark Ramage, has coached a variety of teams in England and in the Bay.

Hulls, 43, still coaches the Akina Rovers premier men's side and the Hastings Boys' High School 1st XI which will compete at the India Shield national tournament this year.

"My job is one I love. It's an opportunity for me to give information back to the sport which has been given to me over the years," the centre back said.

"There is so much potential here in the Bay. Developing that potential to get players to the top level will be a key component of my role."

Hulls stressed that because Hawke's Bay didn't have the same number of players as some of the bigger centres it didn't mean the Bay shouldn't be able to compete.

"Great Britain has a population of 70 million people but our Black Sticks men and women's teams are still more than competitive with their Great Britain counterparts."

Hulls agreed Hawke's Bay age-group teams should be performing better than they are at national tournaments. The 2010 under-18 boys were the last team from the province to win a national age-group title.

In addition to assisting players make national teams, Hulls will also have the opportunity to help Bay players get selected in Central Districts teams in several age groups.

"It's important high-performance elite players like Black Sticks player Emily Naylor and Central Districts NHL player Joe Hanks, who are both based in the Bay, are well catered for too," Hulls stressed.

Hockey New Zealand sets a variety of skills standards which must be met by rep players in the various age grades and ensuring those standards are ticked off will be another of Hulls' responsibilities. Formulating the necessary gym programmes and speed and agility tests during the rep players' off-season will be another priority.

"Don [Hawke's Bay Hockey's general manager Don Clark] runs a hockey organisation which is as good as anywhere else in the country. It is a very professional outfit and I now have the opportunity to add to it and bring my personal touch to it," Hulls said.

"Hawke's Bay Hockey isn't just about the four people in the head office. It's about all the volunteers, all the players from social to elite level ... it's my job to help enthuse and help mentor those people," Hulls said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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