BULLDOGS’ Under-16 captain Jess Wooding is gearing up for the biggest moment of her short hockey career as she prepares to represent Great Britain Under-18s Women in Iceland.
Following an intensive on and off-ice training camp last week at Ice Sheffield in September, the defensive leader was selected to compete for her country in the Four Nations tournament in Reykjavik.
GB get their campaign up and running on Thursday against Spain – with Jess hopefully making her debut on her 15th birthday – before taking on Poland 24 hours later and finishing off the event against the hosts on Saturday. The team and their support staff flew out from Luton Airport on Wednesday morning.
For Jess, who has now been playing at Bradford for the past three years, it will be a special moment when she steps out on the ice for the first time with the team.
“I’m very proud and honoured at being selected for the team,” said Jess, who also plays in the Women’s Premier League for Kingston Diamonds. “The preparation has gone well with group talks, classroom sessions, strength and conditioning sessions and nutrition talks – that has all been really helpful.
“I’m looking forward to playing against the other countries and it’s good that I already know a lot of the other GB players having played either with or against them on different teams.
“Being at Bradford has played a really big part in my development and in helping me get to this stage – having the ability to play up to older age groups, getting the coaches’ encouragement and their direction, as well as the regular hockey camps that they put together.”
In January, the team will take part in the World Championships Division Two tournament in Turkey, with this week’s Four Nations event regarded as a vital part of preparations for the trip to Istanbul by head coach James Ashton and his staff.
Jess admits she would one day like to continue her progression and play for the GB Women’s senior team, with January’s Under-18 event also something she wants to be involved in.
The teenager is being backed to prove a big success in Reykjavik by her Under-16s coach, Kirsten Deighton, who has coached Jess for the past three years at Little Horton Lane.
“Jess fully deserves the call up, I would’ve been surprised if she hadn’t been picked, but I had no doubt she would get picked,” said the Bulldogs’ coach.
“Jess is a solid defender that gets the job done and doesn’t let anything affect her game – she just keeps going.
“She has stepped up her game and is now, not only solid in defence but has input in offensive plays. In my opinion she is only just getting started and is unlocking another level of play.
“She’s been pushed this season, not only playing a vital part in our Under-16 and Under-18 teams but has also made the step up to senior women, again playing a vital part for them.
“She’ll do great in Iceland, she will definitely make her family and the Bulldogs family proud. It’s always great when one of our Bulldogs gets the call up. There will definitely be more in the future.
“But Jess can really go as far as she wants to go. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was called up to the senior GB team in a couple of years.”
GB Under-18s Women Four Nations Schedule
Thursday, November, 11: v Spain – Spain (face-off 5.30pm)
Friday, November, 12: v Poland (face-off 5.30pm)
Saturday, November 13: v Iceland (face-off 7.15pm)
All games are being streamed live on You Tube throughout the tournament and can be watched HERE