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Kayla Whitelock and Emily Gaddum acknowledged with Queens Birthday Honours

Two Palmerston North born and raised players have been awarded Queens Birthday Honours for their long service to hockey. Emily Gaddum (nee Naylor) and Kayla Whitelock (nee Sharland) have a combined 530 caps for the Vantage Black Sticks Women’s team including teaming up for the 2012 London Games where Gaddum and Whitelock led the side to an incredible fourth-place finish.

Their impact on the game has transcended well beyond the turf as both have been heavily involved with youth coaching in their local area.

In 2019 Gaddum took on the role of Executive Officer for the Hockey Foundation, since taking over she has been instrumental in helping create new scholarship opportunities for people who would otherwise struggle to participate in hockey. During her playing career, Emily played 274 caps for the National Side, and retired as the most capped Vantage Black Sticks Women’s Player in history. Gaddum played in three Olympic Games (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012) before retiring and starting a family prior to the 2016 Rio Games.

Since retiring Gaddum has been coaching in the Hawke’s Bay where she has taken on various roles with the Iona and Woodford 1st XI teams as well as being involved with Small Sticks and Holiday program delivery.

Gaddum stated that “it was an incredible honour and to be recognised alongside my great mate Kayla makes it extra special”

The 2020 season would see Kayla Whitelock come out of retirement as she sought that elusive Olympic Medal. This incredible comeback was made even more remarkable given that Whitelock is now a mother of two and a successful business owner of the F45 Gym in Palmerston North. A veteran of four past Olympic Games (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016). Whitelock will be looking to finish her storied career off with a podium finish at the Tokyo Games in what will be her fifth Olympic Games, a record she would share with Barbara Kendall as they only two New Zealand Women to compete at five Olympic Games.

During her impressive career Whitelock has been involved with coaching, when in 2006 during her recovery from an ACL tear, Whitelock was involved in coaching at a Hawkes Bay academy and coached up and coming and future Black Sticks in Kane Russell, David Brydon and Dylan Thomas. Recently she has been coaching alongside her sister Verity Sharland at Palmerston North Girls High School where they guided the side for two Federation Cup appearances.

Whitelock states “It has been great to be involved in helping out the next generation”.

Both Whitelock and Gaddum have been New Zealand Olympic Ambassadors where they will go around New Zealand schools inspiring kids with their Olympic journey and values.

Upon receiving the honour, Kayla commented “It’s pretty special and was a bit of a surprise and shock. I’m honoured to receive it. I think it’s great for hockey, for players in the community to see our sport be recognised”.

Whitelock and Gaddum have been playing together since they were kids and to be awarded this honour together makes the acknowledgement even sweeter one. Whitelock commented “It’s awesome. I’m stoked and excited about it. Emily is my best friend and its pretty cool to receive the honour together and celebrate with our families together. I only just found out yesterday, so we’ve decided to make a weekend out of it together in Wellington when the ceremony happens”. 

Hockey New Zealand CEO Ian Francis was ecstatic to hear the news “This is an incredible acknowledgement for two of the greats of our game. They have made significant contributions to hockey throughout the country. Both are former captains of the Vantage Black Sticks and they continue to hold themselves with great distinction both on and off the turf. I will never forget that incredible semifinal match at the London Olympics and how they carried themselves so well after such an agonisingly close defeat. We are pleased that two of our greatest people and players are recognised with this honour”.

  • May 31st, 2020 in
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