NICOLA WHITE describes being awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours as being the perfect end to a perfect year.
The 28-year-old hockey player was rewarded for helping Great Britain women win their first ever Olympic Games gold medal.
Nicola, who began her playing days at Saddleworth Hockey Club, said: “When I opened the letter I had a beaming smile and was so happy for all the girls as a collective.
“I was overwhelmed and thought it cannot get any better than this. There had been talk about us being recognised for what we achieved but until the letter arrived that was all it was.
“I thought oh my gosh it has happened and when I was between seven and 10 years of age I never imagined getting an MBE and where hockey has taken me.
“It was not the perfect journey as I missed out on selection for a number of tournaments beforehand, but the letter showed it was worth sticking at it and not giving up.”
Nicola, whose grandparents Neville and Pamela live in Delph, added that it was special that Prime Minister Teresa May was the person who nominated the team for the award.
She continued: “The most important thing is that hockey has been recognised and people know about and appreciate the sport after what happened in the summer.
“Winning Olympic Games gold has put hockey on the map as seen by all the awards we have since collected. We have made a name for ourselves but, hopefully, it will encourage more people to play hockey.”
At the Olympic Ball, the women’s hockey team was named team of the year, Danny Kerry was coach of the year and the penalty shootout victory against Holland in the final was the moment of the year.
They were also named BT women’s sports team of the year and were only pipped by Leicester City for team of the year at BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year.
That is the past and Nicola is back playing hockey for Holcombe in the indoor league.
She is also due to rejoin the Great Britain centralised programme in March.
It will be a busy year for England, who Nicola will revert to playing for, as they have a World League group competition in South Africa, European title to defend in Holland and then have the World League final in New Zealand later in the year.
Nicola said: “It will be nerve wraking going back after having tie off, something I have enjoyed.
“A handful of the girls have retired and there will be new faces so I can imagine feeling like the first day at school. I am excited to be going back.
“We are the reigning European champions so all eyes will be on us and we would love to hold on to that title which was the start of our run of success.”