GB and England’s number one goalkeeper is a woman of many talents. Beth Storry was selected as keeper of the tournament at the 2010 World Cup, is a fluent Dutch speaker, financial expert, and a baking enthusiast.
Perhaps surprisingly for someone who has flourished in hockey to such an extent, the 33-year-old never really made a conscious decision to become a hockey goalkeeper. As a girl she had always played in goal at football, so when her secondary school hockey team needed a goalkeeper she gave it a try and never looked back. Despite the obvious pitfalls of the position, Storry has embraced the challenges.
“Being a goalkeeper, you’ve got more pressure. If you make a mistake it tends to be a goal. It’s not like you can make it better by scoring one at the other end, you can only make it better through your next save. That’s one of the down sides. I still really enjoy it, though.”
Despite her clear love of her chosen position, Beth admits that there have been occasions where the lure of the headline grabbing centre-forward role has seemed an attractive proposition.
“I tried it a couple of years ago in Holland, I had a run around in the indoor. It was brilliant. I know the lines to run, I can read the play and I know what I want to do, but I just can’t do it. I can’t stop the ball!”
She laughs as she tells that story, which inevitably leads us on to discussing her time in Holland, where she moved in 2003 after leaving Slough. She went on to have spells at Hurley, Rotterdam, Kampong and SCHC.
Having missed out on the Athens Olympics in 2004, Storry decided she needed a new challenge and a fresh start. She originally only planned to go to Holland for a year, but took to the experience in such a way that she ended up staying for seven. Understandably, the pain of missing out on Athens had knocked her confidence, both as a player and on a personal level. So it was a huge step for her, but one she is glad she took.
“It was a really good thing to go there, to know that you can live in a foreign country, meet different people and I loved the hockey. Above all else, it was great to rebuild my confidence on and off the field.”
It would have been easy to stay in England. Storry had a job (as a financial analyst), family, friends and a guaranteed place in Slough’s team. However, it should come as no surprise to anyone who knows her that she is would relish the challenge. And she spent plenty of time working hard to ensure moving to Holland was going to be a success:
“I put my hockey CV onto the Hoofdklasse website and a couple of clubs got in contact with me. I went to see them and to do a training session, and then basically moved there without a job. I spent a month [before I left] sending my CV to lots of different companies, hoping to get something. Luckily enough I found a job with Nike in the first week! I fell on my feet, really.”
Storry returned to Britain in 2010 with a new-found appreciation for the way of life abroad. “I really like Dutch people’s directness. You do something wrong, you know about it. It was quite bizarre to begin with, but by the end it was quite refreshing – they don’t beat around the bush. They tell you exactly how it is, but there’s no malice in it, it’s not to be mean, it’s just their way.”
Her hockey too had blossomed. Playing regularly in the Hoofdklasse, one of the best leagues around, meant she became the regular first choice for Great Britain and England. This culminated in a very successful tournament at the 2010 World Cup, a tournament Storry lists as her favourite hockey moment.
“The whole tournament was incredible. It was a really great team feeling and experience. Everyone played well and it is a really happy memory.”
Of course, this is also the event where she was voted goalkeeper of the tournament, something about which she seems almost embarrassed. “That was part of it. I mean, I was really happy with how I played, but it’s more the memories I shared with the team and the performances everyone put in. It was just lovely to be part of and a great experience.”
Having excelled at one major international tournament, next on the agenda for Storry and her Great Britain teammates are the London Olympic Games, and her anticipation is already clear as the Games come closer.
“It’s kind of weird at the moment because we don’t know who’s going or what the squad will be, but I’m excited regardless. It’s going to be an incredible event. The whole country is going to come alive and come together. It’ll be amazing.”
The Olympics offer an opportunity for the hockey team to stay in the athletes’ village, presenting them with the chance to mix with stars of other sports including the likes of Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis and Paula Radcliffe, but Storry’s attitude to this gives some indication into the drive that has made her one of the best around.
“To be honest, you don’t want to [interact with other athletes]. In Beijing, as soon as we got there, we knew it was the Olympics but you treat it as just another hockey tournament. That’s my way of dealing with it. I know I’m at the Olympics, but I thought more like ’I’m here to do a job. I’m not here to see other sports, I’m here to do the best I can.’”
It would be all too easy for any British athlete to get caught up in the excitement of being a part of the Games in their home country, but Storry is characteristically keen to keep focus on the job at hand.
“Obviously it will be a wonderful event but it doesn’t matter who the match is against, and in which tournament, you should approach it in the same way. For me, that’s how I think about it and that’s how I deal with it. More people are watching, it’s a bigger stage, but it’s still hockey. Just like all the other matches.”
You very much get a sense that Storry is not there to be a tourist or to make up the numbers, she feels that Great Britain have a real medal chance. She is excited about some of the other players that will be on show, citing Park Mi Hyun for Korea as someone she particularly enjoys watching and acknowledging the obvious threat posed by Argentina, Britain’s conquerors in the final of the recent Champions Trophy. The respect is obvious, but Storry also points out that Great Britain have their stars too.
“I’m really excited about our squad. We have some truly great players and a really good chance. We are all working hard and fingers crossed, things will go well for us.”
Even by her standards, this is shaping up to be a particularly hectic year for Storry. As you’d expect, training for the Olympics is almost like a full time job for the Great Britain girls. Whilst not currently working, Storry is still trying to fit in her accountancy qualifications alongside her preparations for London.
“When you get home from training and you’re tired the last thing you want to do is sit in front of books. You’re sometimes just not taking any of it in. It’s hard having the discipline to get home, get studying and make sure you get something out of it. It’s hard getting the balance too, as hockey is not just training – there’s video work, physio and all the other extra stuff. You feel like you need to use all your spare time to study, but it’s tough to fit it in with all the hockey that’s going on at the same time.”
Speaking of balance leads on to another passion in her life, baking. Storry is renowned in the hockey world for being an expert in the kitchen, so much so, that she has put her name down to enter “Beth’s Brownies” in the The Great British Bake Off. While she finds the baking a welcome distraction, none of her teammates can fully enjoy the fruits of her labour.
“I’ve had to cut down on the amount of baking, because people are getting fed up with me passing cakes on to them. I’m getting called a “feeder”! I don’t really pass them on to the girls as everyone’s on a strict diet, but I give them to Chantal [De Bruijn]’s colleagues, people in the hockey office, anyone really.”
Which begs the obvious question: would she prefer Olympic gold, or to win the Great British Bake Off? Her answer is unsurprising, but once again illustrates the determination that has ensured she has made it to where she is today,
“I want to win both! Olympic gold without a doubt is better, obviously. I love baking, but it’s the competition that I really like. I want to win anything I enter. It’s my nature. I want that Olympic gold though. That would be incredible!”