The return of Dalefield to the Wellington premier division women's hockey competition in 2016 is a major coup, both for the club and for Wairarapa hockey in general.
Early indications were that Dalefield would have to work their way up to the top grade by starting at premier three level. However, they understandably jumped at the chance to play in the elite competition when another club had to withdraw because of a player shortage and they were offered a place.
Nobody in the Dalefield camp is predicting they will follow the lead of their revamped men's team which won the Wellington premier division title for the first time last season but, at the same time, there is good reason to expect them to develop into a very competitive unit.
Their playing resources are strong, both in terms of quality and quantity, and with a proven coach in Andy Wilson calling the shots they should not have any hassles on the tactical front either.
Another plus for the Dalefield side is the majority of the players have actually played alongside each other at college, club or representative level -- some all three -- and that should make Wilson's task somewhat easier when it comes to forming combinations.
Ten of the team are past or present Wairarapa College first XI players, including former Junior Black Stick Katherine van Woerkom, and four are current Capital under-21 reps, Brigette Mossman, Emma Smith, Kelsey Linton and Michael O'Connor.
Also helping build combinations will be a "friendly" fixture against a Palmerston North-based club tonight, their one and only serious hit-out before they start their season proper with a match against Kapiti at the National Hockey Stadium on Saturday, starting at 12.45pm.
A likely Dalefield squad is: Sarah Crofoot, Ana Gudsell, Brigette Mossman, Emma Smith, Kelsey Linton, Michael O'Connor, Kristy Anderson, Morgan Percy, Kayla Brady, Jess Matthews, Litia Jane, Katie-Ann Saywell, Annabel Butterick, Amy McAnulty, Kelsey Smith, Katherine van Woerkom.