Gamble pays off for Junior Black Sticks captain
Junior women's Black Sticks captain Jenny Storey was confronted with a huge sporting dilemma three years ago.
She was a gifted rower and hockey player, but the Cantabrian slowly began to realise she would have to choose one sport over the other.
It is a decision Storey, 21, describes as the toughest of her life.
Between 2006 and 2010, she won 16 Maadi Cup national secondary school rowing medals, which included 12 golds.
In her final year of high school in 2010, she was also a member of the New Zealand junior women's coxless four crew which won gold at the junior worlds in the Czech Republic.
Storey was equally talented at hockey, playing for the New Zealand under-16 Tiger Turf team, as well as the Canterbury under-21 side.
After gaining a Junior Black Sticks trial in 2011, which also coincided with Rowing New Zealand's regional performance centre (RPC) trials, she took a risk and decided to pour all her energy into hockey.
"There were a lot of long nights trying to toss it up, and writing lots of little lists of good and bad points," Storey said.
"I felt like I was giving half my efforts to both, instead of fully concentrating on one."
Thankfully, the young defender's gamble has paid off. She was the bolter in the Junior Black Sticks' 18-strong squad for their four nations tournament in India later that year.
Three years on, she is now the team's skipper and will be a crucial figure at their women's Junior World Cup campaign, beginning in Monchengladbach, Germany, on Sunday morning (NZT).
Her preference to stick with hockey was further justified last December when she made her debut for the Black Sticks senior team, in a 7-2 win over India, in Napier.
Storey went on to gain six caps during the Indian series, and admitted to some apprehension before her first international.
"I was nervous. With my first touch of the ball, I passed it back to the person who passed it to me, because I was so worried. It was an undescribable feeling," Storey said.
"It's worked out well. I definitely don't regret not rowing."
The Junior Black Sticks have been grouped with Russia, India and Australia at the 16-team tournament. The top two teams in each pool advance on to the quarterfinals.
Australia loom as New Zealand's sternest threat in group play, with the Hockeyroos' side containing Anna Flanagan, Emily Smith, and Georgia Nanscawen, who all played for their senior team at last year's London Olympics.
Storey said the Chris Leslie-coached New Zealand side had set high expectations for the junior worlds, and were determined to improve on a disappointing 10th placing, four years ago.
"We're really hoping for a medal. Top three would be the goal.
"We've got quite a lot of experience, and a lot of young talented players. It balances together quite nicely."
New Zealand Junior Black Sticks squad: Jenny Storey (c), Rachel McCann, Cass Reid, Sian Fremaux, Sophie Cocks (Canterbury), Sarah Matthews, Elizabeth Thompson, Danielle Sutherland, Julia King (Auckland), Georgia Barnett, Michaela Curtis (Central), Brooke Neal, Kim Tanner, Rosie Keddell (Midlands), Rhiannon Dennison, Erin Goad (North Harbour), Phillipa Symes (Southern), Genevieve Macilquham (Capital).
Saturday midnight: v Russia
Monday 1am: v India
Tuesday 7.30pm: v Australia
Friday August 2: Quarter-finals
Saturday August 3: Semi-finals
Monday August 5: Final