Great Britain hockey star Sarah Thomas has received top marks after paying a visit to a Dales school to carry out coaching and take part in a question and answer session.
The hockey ace, who will be representing Great Britain at this summer’s Olympic Games, dropped in at Anthony Gell School in Wirksworth as part of a nationwide programme, the Hockey Nation, which will see British Olympic hockey players visit events over the next two months.
The ‘Come and Meet’ sessions are aimed at giving thousands of youngsters the chance to try In2Hockey, a version of hockey for 10 to 14 year olds, ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
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Helen Greer, a PE teacher at Anthony Gell School who also oversees the school/clubs link locally, was delighted by the way the visit went and paid tribute to their famous guest.
“Sarah was absolutely fantastic. She was so amazing, she was on the kids’ level and she signed absolutely everything. Sticks, shirts, homework diaries, you name it.
“It was a brilliant experience for all concerned. She was lovely, she got so involved with the kids, she helped with the coaching, talked to children on an individual basis when she saw something that she could help them with, and it was great to see someone from that sporting level taking the time and effort to pass on that knowledge to our local children.
“I said afterwards that now when they watch the Olympics, the pupils will be watching someone that they have met and received coaching from and that will be great for them.”
She continued: “I must say that English Hockey put on a good show. We were emailed and told that they were putting Olympic athletes into schools so we submitted a bid and were successful.
“We were one of only 78 schools chosen nationally so we also invited other schools locally to send players along and we had youngsters there from Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Ashbourne, and Highfields School in Matlock too, so we got as many kids as possible from the area who were able to experience meeting Sarah.
“Since the amazing visit there has been a real buzz among the hockey playing youngsters here and that’s been great to see.”