Saturday, February 24, 2024

So much fun: Walking Hockey paves way back to league matches for septuagenarian

If proof were needed how amazing the game of hockey is, look no further than the story of one of Bedford Hockey Club’s inspirational players, writes Jean Fitch.

It would be indiscreet to mention Steph’s age, but the history of her playing career speaks volumes. 

Steph was taught hockey by one of the best in the game, England and GB’s Val Robinson, at Stratton School in Biggleswade, Steph being encouraged to go on to play for Midland’s Juniors. She also played alongside Val for Bedford’s Parkside, before its merger with other teams in Bedford, to form Bedford HC as we know it today.  

After leaving school, Steph attended Bedford PE College from 1966-69, playing for their 1st XI and, on qualifying, played several seasons for Bedfordshire, whilst teaching PE at Rotherham High School in Luton, where she became head of department, before moving to North Hertfordshire College. Steph finished her teaching career as Principal Lecturer in Physical Education at her former PE College, now renamed University of Bedfordshire, where she inspired the next generation of PE teachers. 

Ironically, it wasn’t until September 2022, after a six-year campaign by Bedford Physical Education Old Students Association (BPEOSA), of which Steph remains an active member, that Steph, her wife Anita, and over 300 other former students of the College came together to be awarded Honorary Degrees by the University of Bedfordshire. 

With such a busy working life, hockey fell off the schedule for Steph until, in 2018, over 40 years since she had last played, she saw an article in the local paper about Bedford HC doing Walking Hockey. The rest, as they say, is history, as Steph and Anita, also a hockey player in her younger years, both returned to the field of play.  

After several years of Walking Hockey, twice a week, they both had an urge to try the mainstream game again, for old-time’s sake, and joined a six-week Back to Hockey course at the Club in June 2022. The course gave Steph confidence in her skills and confirmed to her that she was physically fit enough to return to the faster-paced game. 

As a result, she has now progressed back into playing league hockey every Saturday, with the club’s women’s 7s squad, though neither Steph nor Anita are going to be giving up the Walking Hockey any time soon, as it’s just so much fun.

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Bedford HC is a previous winner of our #watchyour1s competition

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