The young stars of the Perth Thundersticks have made a massive impact on the pitch to begin the 2022 Sultana Bran Hockey One League campaign.
Several up-and-coming stars have begun to make names for themselves on the national stage for the state’s premier team and are helping to drive the current success.
The Thundersticks men and women sit second and fourth respectively on the Hockey One ladder, with the young guns of both line-ups playing key roles in the stellar start to the tournament.
One of those players is WA’s Under-21s captain for 2022 Jolie Sertorio, who has come into her own this season after debuting for Perth in 2019 as a 17-year-old.
“For me, 2019 was about becoming a sponge and soaking up lots of information and getting the feel of what it is like at the next level of competition,” Sertorio said.
“It was a really big period of learning for me in terms of being faster in my skills and thinking.
“I am still only 20, but I definitely feel a lot more comfortable and confident playing at this level now this year.”
Sertorio said after captaining the Under-21 side to a silver medal early this year, she was enjoying the freedom of being able to focus on her game for the Thundersticks.
“I am really enjoying my hockey and I always have,” Sertorio said.
“I really enjoy competing and I will always strive to be better, whether that be playing for the Under-21s or the Thundersticks.
“There is still so much for me to learn which will hopefully prepare me for the next level.
“I am always learning, Under-21s taught me about being in a leadership role.
“Now I can put that into practice with the Thundersticks in the position I play in the midfield.
“I have to be a bit of a leader in the midfield in the Thundersticks, but I also have the freedom of being able to play my game.”
New Kookaburra James Collins is another rising Thunderstick who has come a long way since debuting in 2019.
“Obviously, we didn’t have a lot of hockey but as a WA up and comer I was able to train with the Kookaburras a little bit,” Collins said.
“I got to spend some time with them which was an invaluable experience for me.
“I think those two years have been really good for my development.
“Compared to where I was in 2019, where I was playing as a halfback and was lucky to get a game, my role has now changed, and it is cool to see that.”
Collins was selected in the national squad earlier this year and said whilst that could sometimes come with some added pressure, the calibre of players around him for Perth was helping to ease the load.
“My experience being in the national squad watching these guys play and being at that intensity has helped me with the Thundersticks,” Collins said.
“You can bring a lot of that stuff back and pass it on to the other guys.
“Being selected in the Kookaburras squad comes with a bit more responsibility and people expect you to perform.
“Having experienced guys around me just gives me the freedom to play some hockey which has been really fun.”
Another player making a name for themselves is talented Thundersticks striker Jade Vanderzwan.
Vanderzwan debuted for Perth in 2019 as an 18-year-old but said earning selection this year had not been a walk in the park.
“In 2019 I was very young and inexperienced and playing with Hockeyroos and some quality players, which was pretty intimidating,” she said.
“This year I feel a lot more a part of the group.
“We have some amazing players in and around the team and it is really competitive for spots at the moment.
“It is great for WA hockey that we are increasing our quality and competitiveness across the board.”
Vanderzwan was also a part of the Under-21s WA team which won silver earlier this year and said the state should be excited with the direction of WA hockey.
“It is definitely a challenge, and no one feels safe in their position, but I think that is a good thing,” she said.
“We are all trying to push each other, and it is creating a really good training and playing environment because everyone has worked so hard to earn their position in the team.
“Three years down the track and the group has changed a lot and is a lot different.
“But I think it has changed for the better and we are definitely heading in the right direction.”
The Thundersticks will host the Tassie Tigers on Saturday 29 October at the Perth Hockey Stadium at Curtin University. Kids under 18 go FREE* – get your tickets now.
*With paid adult general admission tickets