A massive career achievement for Black Sticks star Gemma McCaw also came with a touch of sadness.

McCaw celebrated playing her 250th test for the Black Sticks with a long reflective post on Instagram.

"As a little girl, with my eyes glued to the tv watching the Olympics, I dreamed of one day becoming a Black Stick," she wrote on the social media platform. "I was fortunate enough to play my first test for the team I looked up to so much in 2008 and yesterday, 12 years later I got to play my 250th.

"I've realized sport is what we do, it's not who we are. It doesn't define us but it helps shape us in so many ways. It's not just where you are going, but who's by your side that counts.

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"I'll never forget the people I've played alongside, the places I've been and the memories I've made. I've learnt so many things over the years through the highs and lows and am grateful each day for this journey."

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McCaw also mourned the death of strength and conditioning coach Brad Conza, who died on Sunday, the same day McCaw achieved the milestone.

Conza had worked with the Black Sticks for a decade and also with the Football Ferns.

"Yesterday was also a very sad day for our Black Sticks family as we lost a very special man, Brad Conza," McCaw said. "He lit up every room with his smile and he had the most infectious laugh and was the kindest person I've ever met.

"It's so very sad he is no longer with us in person but his spirit will live on forever. Remember to hug your loved ones tight each day and tell them you love them."

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After taking time off with the Black Sticks since the 2016 Olympics to have her daughter with husband Richie, McCaw returned to the Black Sticks this year.

McCaw thanked everyone who had supported her throughout her journey, including her husband for his support in encouraging her to return to international hockey.

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"There are so many people I am thankful for, including my family, friends, team mates & coaches.

"But a very special thanks to my amazing Mum. You believe in me more than I do myself. You're the best nana and the love you give Lottie each day is so special to watch. Thank you for taking the year off work to help us, I wouldn't be able to do this without you.

"And to my husband. Thank you for supporting me, being patient and giving me the encouragement I needed to get back out there. I feel I can give anything a go with you by my side."

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As a little girl, with my eyes glued to the tv watching the Olympics, I dreamed of one day becoming a Black Stick. I was fortunate enough to play my first test for the team I looked up to so much in 2008 and yesterday, 12 years later I got to play my 250th. I’ve realized sport is what we do, it’s not who we are. It doesn’t define us but it helps shape us in so many ways. It’s not just where you are going, but who’s by your side that counts. I’ll never forget the people I’ve played alongside, the places I’ve been and the memories I’ve made. I’ve learnt so many things over the years through the highs and lows and am grateful each day for this journey. There are so many people I am thankful for, including my family, friends, team mates & coaches. But a very special thanks to my amazing Mum. You believe in me more than I do myself. You’re the best nana and the love you give Lottie each day is so special to watch. Thank you for taking the year off work to help us, I wouldn’t be able to do this without you. And to my husband. Thank you for supporting me, being patient and giving me the encouragement I needed to get back out there. I feel I can give anything a go with you by my side. Yesterday was also a very sad day for our Black Sticks family as we lost a very special man, Brad Conza. He lit up every room with his smile and he had the most infectious laugh and was the kindest person I’ve ever met. It’s so very sad he is no longer with us in person but his spirit will live on forever. Remember to hug your loved ones tight each day and tell them you love them ❤️

A post shared by Gemma McCaw (@gemflynn) on