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Meet Two of Elite Hockey’s Youngest and Brightest Stars
The Dutch national team striker and Team GB’s defender are at the top of our “Ones to Watch” list…and they’ve officially joined the STX fam!
You've had incredible success at a young age – what were some of the defining moments that got you to where you are today?
Thijs: Up until I turned 14, I split my time between three different sports – field hockey, judo and running. I think that the core skills to each sport helped me become a more well-rounded, strategic player, from both a physical and mental standpoint. My encouragement to young athletes would be to have fun with what you do, work harder than everybody else and gain experience playing different sports and positions.
Livy: I think playing at a quality club from a young age really set my hockey game up. I started playing at Reading HC and gained experience under some really incredible coaches and seriously talented senior players, including my now-teammate Alex Danson who’s one of the greatest players of all time. She’s so down to earth and so focused, with a rare talent that’s inspiring to watch.
Looking ahead, what’s your next big hockey goal?
Thijs: Right now, I have three big goals – the first is winning the European Hockey League with HC Rotterdam, the second is to give it my all in the play for the Champions Trophy and the third is to play in the upcoming World Cup. Long-term, the dream is to stay on the Dutch national team.
Livy: At the moment, I’m injured so my main aim is to get back on the pitch! I won’t be back for the World Cup, but the Champions Trophy is in November, so I’d like to be back for that. Looking ahead, I want to go to Tokyo to compete in the 2020 Olympics.
Who has been your strongest mentor or advocate?
Thijs: My father. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his endless support and encouragement. He’s that person who has always been able to bring out the best in me.
Livy: My Granny, because she’s the loveliest person and has always told me to enjoy everything I do.
Was there ever a time when you wanted to give up or quit field hockey? What made you push through?
Livy: I wouldn’t say there’s ever been a time when I wanted to give up, but I think everyone has those days when they get a bit fed up with training, especially if they’re injured. Remembering how much fun it is to play with my friends and how special it is to represent my country is what gets me through those days. Also, there’s a natural human instinct to want to better ourselves and succeed. That helps me power through as well.
What's something you wish you had known when you started playing that you know now?
Thijs: That you have to give up a lot of free time. I wouldn’t want to spend my time doing anything else, but there’s no getting around it – the training, the hours of practice, time on the road and at games – your time isn’t always your own to do with what you want. You gotta be ready to commit.
Livy: It’s never a smooth ride – you will have lots of ups and downs with injuries and selection. Be ready for the roller coaster, so it doesn’t throw or shock you. Things won’t always be easy, but they will be okay.
Who is an athlete that inspires you?
Thijs: Usain Bolt, because he is the fastest man on earth! Imagine knowing you’re the fastest man on earth!! What an achievement – something about that is just incredibly motivating to me.
Livy: Serena Williams. To be at the top of your game and the best in the world for so long is unreal. I never tire of watching her during a match. She is so focused and ruthless, and very inspiring to watch.
What are three of your favorite things to do when you're not hitting the pitch or the gym?
Thijs: Quite simple really – hanging out with friends, fishing and watching Netflix!
Livy: I like to see my friends and go shopping. Also, really anything that involves being outside in the sun!
What would you say are the three most important qualities in a teammate/friend?
Thijs: Honesty is number one for me. Real teammates and friends need trust. I also really value people who are team players because the truth is none of us can do it alone and the sooner we own that, the more we can achieve together. Also, you need someone who is funny because sports and life get intense and you gotta have someone who won’t take it all too seriously.
Livy: Loyalty – whether it’s a friend or teammate, I want to know they have my back. Trust is huge as well. You need to believe and know that they’re doing everything they can for the team. And like Thijs said, someone who doesn’t take it all too seriously. At the end of the day, you want to be able to just chill out and have a laugh together.
How can you stand out and make your mark like Thijs & Livy? Alex Danson talks to the next generation about the future of field hockey.