Meat: Friend or Foe?

Keeping up with Katie

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Katie
Hector (formerly Woods) has been part of the national women’s hockey team since
2003, has amassed nearly 170 caps, was SA Player of the Year in 2008, and was
part of the hockey squad that went to Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, so
she is really looking forward to London. “In Athens I was just a youngster in
the team and more of a squad player, but by Beijing I was vice-captain and a
regular. This time round we’re in a pool with Germany, Argentina, Australia,
New Zealand and the USA. The draw looks more favourable for us because we usually
do better against Germany and Argentina than Holland and the Asian teams.”

 

Kate
says the recent success of the national team is largely thanks to hard-working coach
Giles Bonnet doubling the number of tests they play per year from about 25 to
50, which means new players rapidly gain experience. “Another huge factor is
that about 80% of the squad are contracted to play professionally in Europe,
where the standard is much higher, plus they can get together to train once a
week. I played two seasons pro in England, but still had to work on the side to
make ends meet, whereas now the girls have pretty decent contracts. There only
a few of us still in SA, actually, and I am the only one married with a baby in
the squad.”

 

HOCKEY STAR

Kate
(30) grew up in Durban and also participated in tennis, squash and swimming at
school, but hockey was always her focus, and she already earned provincial
colours at under-13 level. After school, she went to Stellenbosch to study a BA
Sport Science with Business Management degree. “I moved to Stellies partly for
the amazing hockey set-up at Maties, but also for the culture and vibe.” She soon
made the Maties first team and the Western
Province
team, then in
her fourth year she was selected for the national team. “My strengths are
distribution, reading the game and being a good communicator on the field. I
wouldn’t put speed as my main strength, so I rely on my understanding of the
game and positioning to be a better defender.”

 

While
at varsity she met her future husband Duncan Hector, who captained the men’s
national waterpolo team for 12 years until his recent retirement. They both
decided to stay in Stellenbosch after completing their studies, so that they
could continue with their chosen sports, and both worked for Ernie Els Wines,
where Kate was in charge of hospitality, functions and the tasting room. After
eight years in Stellenbosch, Kate moved to Cape Town to begin working for adidas,
where she is currently the Product Category Manager for running, cricket and
hockey, and also oversees cycling, tennis and swimming. She now plays for the
Western Province Cricket Club hockey side.

 

Kate
actually retired from international hockey for two years to have her son
Samuel, who is now 19 months old. “I didn’t think I would ever play at that
level again, but Giles approached me to play again, and it has been fantastic
the way he has managed me, understanding that I am juggling family, work and
hockey. But I’m planning to retire from international hockey again after the
Olympics. Something has to give, as I am sacrificing a lot of family time at
the moment. It’s tough to spend less time with Sammie, and I couldn’t do it
without my mom living next door, as she steps in between me and our nanny. When
possible, Duncs and Sammie go with on tour or to tournaments, even though they
don’t stay with me – I like to keep them near me so I can see them every day.”

 

ALWAYS ON THE RUN

Naturally,
Katie has to be super-fit to play for the national side. “We do four training
sessions a week with the fitness trainer, focusing on cardio, core and fitness,
which includes a lot of interval work on the treadmill, plus shuttles and
hills. Then we have two extra fitness sessions before skills sessions, where we
do agility, ladders and sprints. And on the weekends I fit in a long run of
about 40 minutes, usually on Sundays because we play club matches on Saturdays.”

 

When
asked if she enjoys all the running, Katies just smiles. “I’m probably a bit
biased because I’m involved in running at work, but I love leaving the stick
and ball behind and running to clear my mind. I’ve done the Two Oceans Half in
about two hours, a nice slow jog with Duncs, and I plan to do more races once I
am out of hockey, including a few more trail runs. But for now the focus is
still on hockey, and the Olympics!”


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