Attending a local school and working towards playing hockey at international level.
The doubters said it couldn't be done - that if Cam Maclean wanted to excel at hockey, he'd have to leave Taupō.
But Cam, 20, has just proved them all wrong, being selected for the men's hockey national under-21 squad.
It's just one step shy of the Black Sticks men's New Zealand hockey team and the latest progression in Cam's hockey career, which started when he switched from football to hockey as a Year 4 student at Wairakei Primary School.
The Great Lake Taupō Hockey Club runs a grassroots junior programme, with under-11 and under-13 development programmes focusing on fundamental skills, enjoyment and promoting a love for the game, and Cam progressed through both programmes as well as playing for his school.
"I was always really keen on sport at a young age and I played soccer for a long time and was just playing lots of sports," Cam says. "At the end of intermediate, hockey was what I enjoyed the most so that's why I kept going with it."
At Taupō Intermediate, Cam was named in the hockey team to play at the largest middle schools sporting tournament in the country, the AIMS Games, where the team won bronze. He continued to go from strength to strength, being selected to play representative hockey for the Bay of Plenty under-13 Hatch Cup team and progressing through the age groups to represent Bay of Plenty at under-15 and under-18 level. The under-18 team won the National Association tournament in Invercargill in 2017.
From there, regional selectors noticed Cam's talent and he was picked to play in the Midlands (Bay of Plenty, Counties-Manukau, Tauranga, Thames Valley and Waikato) under-18 representative team and then the under-21 team, with the under-18s winning a bronze medal at the National Regional tournament in Dunedin. He was also invited to two Hockey New Zealand under-18 camps.
At the same time, Cam was playing hockey for the Taupō-nui-a-Tia College 1st XI, which went from strength to strength and earned a spot in the tier 1 Aon Rankin Cup tournament for the first time in the school's history, making them the 17th-best team in the country.
After leaving school, Cam was awarded a Sir Edmund Hillary scholarship, which is awarded to students performing at national level in sports, culture or academics. It has supported Cam to continue with his hockey as well as studying for a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science at the University of Waikato. Cam is now in his third year and has played club hockey for the Waikato University Premier team for the last three years, becoming captain this year. Last year he was named Waikato Hockey Association's young player of the year.
It hasn't always been easy juggling playing at a high level with university studies - and Cam says it took him until his second year to develop a routine to balance both - but hockey gives him a break from the stresses of study.
"Once I started uni, when you get lots of other commitments in life it's quite a good escape from quite a lot of things. Especially when you're studying, being able to go and train is nice, to be able to go and clear your head."
With no international hockey competition on at present, Cam was invited to play in the inaugural Premier League held in Hamilton in December, where the top 80 players in the country were split into four regional teams, giving Cam, as one of the younger players, the chance to experience playing hockey at the highest level with all the current Black Sticks team.
That led to a two-year contract with Hockey New Zealand to become part of its High Performance Network, the development pathway for future Black Stick players.
Cam says although he knew there was the potential for selection for the Hockey NZ High Performance Network, that wasn't foremost in his mind during the Premier League.
"It was the first time I'd played at that level of hockey, playing with Black Sticks. I wasn't really thinking about the High Performance Network, it was more just about trying to take everything in."
The under-21 North-South Series was held in April and following that, Cam was named in the 25-strong national under-21 squad. From that squad, a team will be picked to play in the Junior World Cup in December in India. Naturally, Cam hopes to be included. Longer-term, his goal is to eventually play for the Black Sticks.
Cam says he wouldn't have got where he is without the support he has had, both locally through the Great Lake Taupō Hockey Club and also via the Bay of Plenty Hockey Association, which has continued to help and support him. As part of giving back to the sport, he is currently assisting the coach of the Bay of Plenty under-18 men's team on their campaign towards the national tournament in Hamilton in July.
He also was a recipient of the Team Taupō scholarship, which mentors local Taupō athletes in their chosen sport, and given funding assistance by the Taupō District Council and Taupō Sports Advisory Council, which helped with the costs involved in playing hockey at a high level.
People told Cam and his mum Sue at the end of his intermediate schooling that if he wanted to play hockey at international level, he would have to go to school in Hamilton or elsewhere.
But Cam wanted to stay in Taupō and he says his decision to do so has been vindicated.
"I was quite lucky with the group that I went through [school] with, there were lots of us that were keen on hockey and we had pretty good coaches and were pretty motivated."
He says when young people leave school for work or study, it can be easy to give up sport.
"People move away from playing sport but if you can keep going, you don't have to play at a high level, but if you can have sport in your life it's really beneficial."