THE right people continue to notice talented Port Macquarie hockey star Annika Toohey.
Toohey will head to Tasmania from March 13-21 with the NSW under-18 side for the national titles.
She was selected in the same team 12 months ago and will use that experience as a guideline to impress two-time Olympian and coach Katrina Powell.
“The pace of the game and the skill level last year was a lot different to anything I’d ever played before,” the 16-year-old said.
“It was a really big step up into the top age group which will definitely make it a lot easier this time around.”
Many believe selection in the state team will provide another step on the path to Australian national team honours.
The Tacking Point Thunder striker said she was better equipped to cope with the step up in class in Launceston.
“I’ve improved a lot as a player and as an individual from last year and I can see that in my game and confidence heading out onto the pitch,” she said.
“Coming from a regional area teaches you that you have to put in those hours of hard work.
“When the opportunities come your way you have to take them because they don’t come around as often as you’d like.”
Toohey attributed a strong local hockey set up as the key to her continued representative selection.
“I’m pretty lucky in Port Macquarie to have had players before me who I’ve learnt off,” she said.
“Not only by improving my skills but how to play and manage hockey and balance life.
“I’ve had good coaching as well which has been really beneficial.”
She was recently picked in the Australian All-Schools side for a trip to South Africa in June.
“The All-Schools team selection was amazing and I was shocked to be picked in that top 16 in Australia in that age bracket,” she said.
“But as for continuing on, the under-18 state team will probably provide more pathways and opportunities for (future) Hockeyroo selection.
“Learning to deal with pressure is something I (need to) do well so I can perform at the level I need.”
Port Macquarie-Hastings Hockey Association president Simon Thresher said Toohey’s selection meant the right people were noticing her hard work.
“It’s fantastic for us here in Port Macquarie to have a player in a side like this because it’s traditionally been hard to crack these ranks from a regional area,” he said.
“Annika has come from one of the strongest clubs on the North Coast of NSW and it is a natural progression for her.
“It’s a definite stepping stone to the Hockeyroos.”