I’ve always wondered why we start to appreciate and celebrate an athlete’s journey until they have officially ‘made it’. Typically, it’s after someone has become a success story that we are interested in the details of their highs and their lows. However, if we paid more attention through each other’s journeys, would we have more success stories?

In my experience, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the people around me. I owe the world to my supportive family, and I’ll be forever grateful for everything they have done for me. Not to mention the support staff and the family at the Victorian Institute of Sport. A place where the employers and athletes care for each other as a person first, the athlete second.

Friends, workplaces, legends at my local club Doncaster, without these people I never would never have amounted to half of the person I am today.

But let me take it back a step. My story is nothing special. Legit. I’m pretty similar to most athletes.

I have had a bunch of treasurable moments and I’ve had a bunch of disappointments. It’s just that these disappointments kept me away from my sport and they really turned my life upside down.

I was out of the race and everyone had overtaken me. It forced me to think deep and answer the biggest question of all… Who the bloody hell am I and where am I going?

Since being a teen I had been in the Junior Australian programmes and had an athlete pathway set out in front of me. I progressed into the National Development Squad and ticked off the progressions on the pathway to the Hockeyroos as I moved up.

Back then I was led to believe that if you wanted to get better, you had to do more. More than everyone else.

PHOTO SUPPLIED: WORLDSPORTPICS | COPYRIGHT TO RODRIGO JARAMILLO

So I took my program into my own hands and had unrealistic targets that would help me achieve my goals. Things like tracking my weekly distances and topping up at home to hit my target of 50km per week. Every week.

Little did I know, I was making anxiety driven decisions that led to my first overuse injury of Osteitis Pubis which put me out for over a year and a half. This was the scariest time of my life. Having panic attacks because I couldn’t believe my life was out of my control, when I used to control every inch of it.

With the help of my family, I surrounded myself with a team of people who would help me rebuild me through my rehab. Then with the help of my friends, I began to discover my new pathway, but this time it was focussing on the type of person I wanted to be.

It was the people at this stage in my life who had the biggest impact on me overall. When they showed genuine belief and interest into my life, when I was in the absolute pits, that I felt like I could get back. Not by working harder, but by working smarter and letting go of my ego that was upset by losing the race. Some people call this resilience, but I honestly think that it’s more a shift in mentality.

My sport was no longer my sole purpose. the people in my life were. I just wanted to do things that made me happy again.

PHOTO SUPPLIED: WORLDSPORTPICS | COPYRIGHT TO RODRIGO JARAMILLO

Returning back to hockey was an option, and I did it because I had so much more going on in my life that I was grateful for. Which in turn made me a happier person. This time I wasn’t playing hockey because it was the only thing I had going for me. Hockey was now one of my purposes, not the sole one.

Since then I made selections back into the Development Squad and was faced with more injuries that had me out for extended periods of time. But this time things were different. I couldn’t be shaken easily.

Going from being selected for my first cap for the Hockeyroos at last September’s Four Nations in Japan and then the Champions Trophy in China in November to now being selected for my first match in Australia, which happens to be in my home city Melbourne, in the new FIH Pro League, everything is just a blessing from here on out.

I wouldn’t change my experience for the world as I’ve learnt more than I ever could have imagined. Thank you for everyone who has helped me along the journey.