Black sticks veteran Ella Gunson has gone from beating Australia in the 2018 Commonwealth Games final to pounding the beat as a new police recruit in Northland.
The 31-year-old Whangārei-born national hockey star has spent a month adjusting to the title "Constable Gunson" as she settles into the frontline after her December graduation from the Royal New Zealand Police College.
Many reasons were the foundation of her career choice but a stand out influence were the footsteps left by her late mother, Gabrielle Gunson, who dedicated her life to others.
"I wanted to try to honour and continue mum's work in the community - she was a social worker and nurse."
Life-long fans in Northland have bolstered Gunson from the first moment the 8-year-old picked up a hockey stick, through to her first step onto the national stage as a 19-year-old, followed by an Olympic debut in 2012, and beyond her milestone of surpassing 200 caps as a Black Stick.
"A big part of joining the police was about me trying to give back to the Northland community who have supported me for the 10 years I've been playing hockey."
Her career move has satisfied Gunson's hunt for a purpose outside of hockey, something her Massey University nutrition degree struggled to achieve.
"I joined the police to have a life-time career that I am passionate about and that I love."
While she is still ironing out where her police path will take her, thoughts of becoming a police dog handler, search and rescue, or a detective have crossed her mind.
"That could change though, there are so many different pathways in the police - I'll just see what interests me and where I go."
Covid-19 disturbed Gunson's life plans to join the police force after her retirement from international hockey, which was to follow one last major hurrah at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
"With that turned upside down the police were really good at helping me fast track the process and work police college around our new training schedule for hockey," Gunson said.
She was incredibly grateful for the flexibility both Hockey New Zealand and police provided to make it possible for her to pursue both passions.
"With the Olympics being cancelled, there was a lot of uncertainty," Gunson said. "Having police college to focus on was so good for me to know the year had something important for the future and my career."
Gunson's hockey hopes are aimed at the 2021 Olympics in Japan. To prepare the Black Sticks recently started their training programme which involves five-weekly field sessions as a team in Auckland and on Wednesday each squad member has a self-directed training day.
Gunson joins them for two or three field trainings a week and then races back to Northland in time for duty the next day.
Team work and mental fortitude are dual strengths Gunson honed on the hockey field that have seamlessly transitioned into police work.
"I've been part of a high performance team for almost 10 years which has taught me about working with different personalities," Gunson said. "I've learnt how to appreciate everyone's views and opinions."
A decade of dealing with the highs and lows of an elite sporting career has armed Gunson with the resilience required for frontline work.
Despite the common threads, a noticeable difference for Gunson were the nerves she had at her police college graduation.
"Someone said, 'Ella, why are you nervous you've done way bigger things than this?'," Gunson said.
"When you look up at your family knowing what you've achieved and what you were working for, it made me a bit emotional."