“When I tried to hang myself,” wrote self-confessed hockey nut Katie Knight, “I woke up in a heap on the floor in the morning, and the first thing I thought was that I can’t even kill myself properly. This is the harsh reality of depression and mental illness, and it may be hard for some people to hear, but it needs to be heard.”
Only Katie’s closest friends and a handful of teachers knew of her health issues. That is until the 20-year-old published an article on her blog which thrust the issue of player welfare experienced by young athletes, as well as her candid confessionals and attempts in taking her own life, firmly into the spotlight.
Katie, a promising goalkeeper who was called up to GB Hockey’s Elite Development Programme in 2017, now hopes that by telling her hugely important story it will force sporting bodies to sit up and inflict changes to make the path for young athletes not only a less anxious one, but that it’s also good to talk if you need help.
Katie first remembers being ‘shoved into pads’ at Cliftonville HC in Kent as a 13-year-old. She wasn’t selected for county in her first year. In fact she was told to not even bother. “But I’m one of those who said I will prove you now!” she tells The Hockey Paper confidently.
The Margate-born player retrialled with Kent the following year, went through JRPC, HiPAC and Futures Cup was then selected for England the next season. Katie loved being selected for her country and the warm, emotional feeling it must entail. Yet the experience, despite moments of enjoyment, was one she doesn’t look back today with total fondness.
Starting at Exeter University, where she is currently midway through a French and Chinese degree, she then earned an EDP trial. At first she was hesitant on going as she wasn’t a first-choice goalkeeper at England under-18 level.