Young Jess shows she’s among Qld’s best
EVERY team wants to prove a point.
And for every hockey player who wears the maroon, winning is the only thing on their mind, none more so than boom Maryborough teenager Jess Switzer.
On Sunday, as the final siren sounded against New South Wales, the ultra-competitive goalkeeper had never felt more elated.
Twelve months earlier, Switzer, 17, and her Queensland teammates were licking their wounds after their loss to NSW in the Australian under-18 women's hockey championship grand final.
They were young, bold and brash, and despite their best efforts they had their dreams of a gold medal crushed by their fierce southern counterparts.
This time it was Queensland that handed out the lessons, with Switzer's performance in the net going a long way towards their success.
In a rematch of last year's decider, Queensland's U18 women's team, which was managed by Maryborough's Cheryll Brown, claimed the title after beating NSW 5-2 in Melbourne.
It capped a stellar carnival for Switzer, who conceded less than a goal per game on average during the entire tournament.
"Last year we were a young team and we were fighting so desperately hard that it became a little draining at times," Switzer said.
"But it was a different team this year.
"We were very equal and we all got along well.
"We worked hard to develop the team culture within our team we all accepted and wanted to be the best team we could be.
"If we won, we won together, and if we lost, we lost together."
Despite sharing in last year's disappointment, Switzer, who plays for Uniteds in the Maryborough and District competition, said not letting her teammates down was just as much a motivation.
"I just played the best game I possibly could because I trusted my team to help me in situations that were a bit scarier," she said.
"We definitely worked a lot harder trying to keep a clean box and I think we did pretty well."
Cheryll Brown, who has seen Switzer's progression through the age groups and her talent bloom, said she was not surprised by her excellent performance at the national titles.
"Jess is definitely up there among the best in Queensland and just keeps improving," she said.
Switzer is now working towards the biggest challenge of her career when she joins the Australian schoolgirls team on a South African tour in June while juggling her final year at Aldridge State High School.
Before then, though, she will represent Maryborough in the Queensland Open Women's State Championship later this month while pushing for a spot in Wide Bay Thunder's Super League squad.
Fellow United's player Lauren Scholl was also in action in Melbourne, acting as a pick-up player for Northern Territory after she was not required for Queensland.
While she didn't get her hands on the trophy, Scholl got some bragging rights over her Queensland buddies after leading Northern Territory to a remarkable victory, inflicting Queensland's only loss of the tournament.