Mel Goodchild's attempts to distance herself from the "nanny" tag fail.
The Hawke's Bay's Eastern women's squash team's No 4 can't avoid it. At 40 she is the "nanny" of the team which will play in Squash New Zealand's premier teams event, the senior nationals, at the Hawke's Bay and Hawke's Bay Lawn clubs on Friday and Saturday.
The tag is also a tribute to her classy organisational skills and the tremendous job she has done in recent years looking after the talented juniors who have been in her teams. Two of those juniors, A2 graders Rhiarne Taiapa and Winona-Jo Joyce, will have the respective No 1 and No 2 roles this weekend.
"They are fine-tuned now. They have both been there and done that in recent times and boast maturity beyond their years. I can pretty well focus on my own game now," Goodchild said before another of her daily training sessions at her Hawke's Bay Lawn club last night.
It will be the first time in almost a decade Eastern have entered both men's and women's teams and they are seeded sixth and eighth respectively. Both divisions have eight teams.
"We are the eighth seeds but we are capable of upsetting a few of these teams. Playing on our home courts can make a big difference," B1 grader Goodchild said.
"Rhiarne played at the junior world champs in Tauranga last month and Winona-Jo has won several inter-island age group titles this season."
Another huge plus in the Eastern team's favour is the fact five of the six-strong squad, Taiapa, Joyce, Tania Tatana-Walker, Goodchild and Graham, played together in the Hastings team which won the national B grade teams title at the Hawke's Bay club last year.
"We're all well connected. We know how we play as a team because we have been together for so long. We know each other's games and we know how to build each other up," Goodchild said.
"That wasn't the case at the B grade nationals in 2015 when we lost our semifinal by one point. Since then we have worked on our fitness and developed that hunger to win.
"We don't want to be playing off for seventh and eighth, we want to be playing for fifth and sixth."
A senior administrator for G & H Training Ltd, Goodchild has been playing squash for 16 years. In April she finished among the top six in her 40-45 age group at the World Masters Games in Auckland.
"I set myself a goal of A grade status for this year and I'm still working at it."
If she doesn't tick off that goal this weekend she could do it during the Eastern team's challenge against Central later this month or during the New Zealand Masters Champs at the Kawaroa Park club in New Plymouth next month.
"I've got to thank my hubby, Geoff, for all the coaching he has given me. He is really passionate and coaches every day," Goodchild said.
She pointed out with the number of talented juniors in the Bay, including her clubmates Jess Dean and Ally and Sam Harding who recently gained New Zealand Secondary Schools team selection, there's no reason why the Eastern team can't remain among the elite level sides in the country.
"It's good for squash to have so many juniors playing at a nice high level. It's exciting times for the code in the Bay."
Bay of Plenty and Auckland are seeded one and two respectively in the women's draw and it will be a surprise if these two teams don't contest Saturday's final. Wellington and Auckland are the top two seeds in the men's draw and both should gain final berths.
Hawke's Bay A1 grader Cameron Jamieson will spearhead the Eastern men's assault on the tournament. His team has been boosted by the availability of Auckland-based Hawke's Bay age group products, the A2-graded former New Zealand junior rep Bryce Redman and the B1-graded Ryan Cross.
The Eastern teams are:
Women: Rhiarne Taiapa, Winona-Jo Joyce, Tania Tatana-Walker, Mel Goodchild, Puti Ferguson, Kate Graham.
Men: Cameron Jamieson, Joseph Watts, Bryce Redman, Jordan Le Comte, William Hirst, Ryan Cross.