David Guest’s journey to becoming head coach of the Perth Thundersticks has been anything but a straight line, but the new leading man believes he is right where he is supposed to be.
Since retiring from professional hockey with the Kookaburras more than a decade ago, Guest has had a number of career changes, spending time with several high-performance hockey programs, switching sporting codes and even moving overseas to work for an international tech company.
The 2008 Olympic bronze medallist started his coaching career in 2010 and went on to be an assistant for the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos during multiple Olympic and Commonwealth Games campaigns.
Guest became adept at performance analysis after honing his analysing skills with Kookaburras and in 2013 landed a job with the Fremantle Dockers – later going on to sit alongside Ross Lyon in the coaches’ box during the 2013 AFL Grand Final.
The 41-year-old returned to coaching hockey after his foray into football, and later headed to Singapore to work for a sports technology company.
Guest was announced as Thundersticks coach earlier this year and said despite the roadblocks and direction changes to get to this point, he was “living in the now” and thrilled to be taking the Thundersticks to his first Hockey One as head coach.
“It has been a bit of a journey for me, I have coached at the international level and was on that career path, but sometimes there are roadblocks and you have to reassess things in life and where you are headed,” Guest said.
“Having finished up with the Hockeyroos in 2018 and going to work for tech companies didn’t stop my love for hockey.
“Five years later I am back and coaching the Thundersticks and am really happy to be doing that.
“I am just living in the now and excited to coach the Thundersticks, and whatever happens, happens.”
During his time away from the sport, Guest had a lot of time to think about the sport and how it is played.
The Tasmanian-born hockey hero said in that time he came up with a new style of play – that the Thundersticks would be using at Hockey One – which he believed could change the way the sport is played in Australia.
“We are going to be playing a slightly different system than what people may expect,” he said.
“It is something I had been thinking about and tinkering with for a few years now, and it will be interesting now that I am the head coach of a team to put it into action and see how it works.
“It will be exciting to see whether that might change the way hockey is played in Australia.
“If it works and people cotton onto it, that might change things a little bit.”
Guest has an innovative style of coaching and is a forward thinker, but focuses on still keeping things simple.
He said Perth fans could expect to see a different style of hockey than they may have expected from his team.
“You can be innovative and forward thinking and confuse everyone,” he said.
“This new style I have been working on isn’t that, it is really simple.
“I wanted to create a way of playing that is simple and that everyone can do which yields results.
“The typical structure of three strikers, three midfielders and three defenders is something I wanted to get away from.”
After a two-year absence from Hockey One due to COVID, Guest believed the Thundersticks men would be itching to get on the park in front of a home crowd and had the side to go deep into the tournament.
Guest also made a note of the under-18s and under-21s efforts at the recent National Championships, which he said indicated how well hockey was going in WA.
“What the under-18s and under-21s did was fantastic for WA hockey and puts us in good stead for the future with those guys coming through,” he said.
“Some of the cultural stuff Tim Geers and those guys have done has been excellent and I want to bring some of that good culture and good feeling into the Thundersticks group.
“I think we are going to perform really well with the squad we have.
“I think we have really good players and a really good mix.
“Hockey is in a really good place in WA, it is growing momentum, and I think we will do well.”
The Perth Thundersticks need your support this Sultana Bran Hockey One League season, with our first double header to be played at Perth Hockey Stadium at Curtin University on Saturday 1 October. Show your support by purchasing a membership, securing your tickets or through our Perth Thundersticks Player Partnership Program. We want all of WA behind our elite-level men’s and women’s teams!