The gift of giving back

AMIDST the shopping frenzy and catching up with family, married hockey couple Nathan and Lisa Eglington (nee Pamenter) still found time to deliver an early Christmas present to two dozen Maryborough hockey players. 

Lisa and Nathan Eglington.
Lisa and Nathan Eglington. Robyne Cuerel

But it wasn't the kind of gift you would find under a tree.

Instead it was something that will last long after the holidays have faded.

Looking to make the most of their time back home, former Granville player Lisa and her husband Nathan, a former Kookaburra, in partnership with the Granville Hockey Club, hosted a special skills clinic at the Maryborough and District Hockey Association fields on Saturday.

Drenched in sweat and gasping for air after having been put through a series of intense drills isn't what most people would have on their Christmas wish list.

But it's not like every day you get the chance to learn from an Olympic gold medal-winning hockey star.

"Every time we come home we've wanted to do something like this," Lisa said.

"It's a pretty busy time of the year, so it is not ideal, but that's why we still mentioned it because we always want to give back, and because I remember what it was like when someone comes back or have an Olympian in the city doing a coaching clinic.

"It just means a lot for the kids and that's what it's about."

Lisa was on the brink of the Australian women's squad for about six years, but never quite cracked the side.

Originally a member of the Queensland Scorchers, she moved to Perth five years ago to try and further her hockey career.

She played an instrumental role in Western Australia's 2010 Australian Hockey League title before giving birth to their first child, daughter Stella in April 2011.

Her husband was a strong goal-scoring midfielder/striker who enjoyed success at the highest level.

Nathan earned 128 international caps for his country, scoring 47 times for the Kookaburras before retiring from international hockey in late-2008.

He was part of Australia's most successful men's hockey team, having taken part in the Kookaburras breakthrough gold medal triumph at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

But a groin injury denied him the chance to play at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

While his playing days are over, Nathan remains actively involved in hockey as a coach and running programs in schools in Perth.

"This is my way of giving back to sport that has been so generous to me," he said.

"Even though Maryborough is not actually my hometown, I'm very well connected here with Lisa and a good circle or network of family and friends.

"Whenever I'm asked to do something like this I always jump at the chance because it might bring an extra kid down and get him or her thinking of joining up hockey.

"That's where it starts - at the grassroots."

Nathan and Lisa, who became the first husband and wife to win Western Australia's top hockey awards in the same year - the Olympians Medal for men and the Charlesworth Medal for women - in 2009, weren't just in Maryborough to spread some Christmas joy this holiday season.

The pair is in town to celebrate the holidays with Lisa's family.

It's the first time they've been in Maryborough for Christmas since the birth of Stella.

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