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Photo by NZ Black Sticks

Snippets from Old Boys

Kathryn Eagle —

Black Sticks call up

An exciting, and busy, year is on the cards for recent St Bede’s College Old Boy Joe Morrison (2015-2019). In March Joe was selected as one of five new caps in the 2022 New Zealand men’s hockey team, the Black Sticks.

After a disruptive 2021 schedule, the Black Sticks are hoping for a return to action as they prepare for a European tour, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in August and the 2023 World Cup which begins January 13 in India. There is plenty of hard work to be put in on the training field between now and when the announcement is made unveiling which Black Sticks will join the touring side to Europe, but Joe Morrison is certainly no stranger to leaving everything on the pitch.

Joe played hockey for St Bede’s throughout his time at school, captaining the side for two years, and leading his team to a national title in the 2019 secondary schoolboys India Shield competition.

Outside of school, Joe has also played in the Marist Premier Men’s side for the past 5 years, and has been an age group Canterbury representative since U13 level. In 2021, he was a member of the Canterbury Men’s Hockey team and won the Outstanding Men’s Player award at the Canterbury Hockey Awards at the end of the season.

Joe is the grandson and namesake of another St Bede’s Old Boy, Joe Ryan, who attended St Bede’s College from 1945 to 1947. For those of you who attended, you may remember his Grandfather’s memorable address at the school centennial dinner in 2012.

Off the field, Joe is in his third year of a Mechanical Engineering degree at Canterbury University. However in the first half of this year he moved to Auckland to pursue his hockey goals, working remotely to continue his engineering studies.

In between training and hitting the books we managed to catch up with Joe, chatting to him about his time at St Bede’s and the pursuit of his dreams on and off the pitch.

When you look back at your time at St Bede’s Joe, who or what inspired you in your initial life choices?

My Grandfather was an Old Boy of St Bede’s and I have several cousins who also attended, so choosing to come to St Bede’s was easy. My hockey career has been encouraged by my parents, and I have also had several influential coaches over the years. I initially played rugby as a young boy until year 9, and was introduced to hockey in year 5 by another parent. We were a group of rugby players who took up hockey for fun. We would play hockey early in the morning then change into our rugby jerseys and head off to the rugby field. Gradually, and for a number of reasons, hockey became the main sport for many of us, and most of us continue to play it.

What were some of the different career choices you thought of when you were leaving school and who helped you make your decision at that time?

I always enjoyed maths and physics so chose to study engineering at university. I received some career guidance from Zest people, and my parents and teachers also helped me with that decision. I continued playing hockey at premier and representative level during my first two years at university, and have managed to balance the two so far.

Has your direction changed over the years since leaving school?

No, not really, although I have had to move away from Christchurch this year to pursue my hockey goals, and due to time commitments have elected to reduce my university load down to a half course. With remote learning, it has been fairly easy to do this.

When you look back has there been a defining moment in your career path?

In year 12 St Bede’s I didn’t do so well at a tournament so one of the parents came on board in the off-season to create a more rigorous hockey programme, with input from lots of people like nutritionists, mental skills coaches and strength and conditioning coaches. We improved the culture in the team, changed the focus, and worked hard, gaining success the following year by winning the India Shield. This showed me that team culture and hard work are so important and can make all the difference. That year was also a highlight because the U18 Canterbury Men’s team won the National Tournament, it was such a buzz being with all my friends and being in the best team in the country. I was also lucky enough to be awarded MVP of the tournament, which was a great thrill and opened the door to lots of opportunities.

What words of advice would you give young students today?

In sport, it is important to keep having fun. I have made many lifelong friends playing all sports, especially hockey. Some years I have had disappointments by not making the team I wanted to, but it’s important not to give up, but keep trying hard if you really want it. Or at least continue playing sport, even if it’s just socially. It’s a great way of meeting lots of people.

All the best of luck Joe, we look forward to following you and the Black Sticks in the coming months!