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Manawatū trio celebrated

With just four months until the Tokyo Olympics, Black Stick Kayla Whitelock has taken time out of her Olympic preparations to be honoured alongside former team-mate Emily Gaddum.

The achievements of the pair along with another outstanding Manawatu woman Sarah Leberman were celebrated at a Hockey Foundation function, sponsored by John Turkington Forestry, in Palmerston North on Saturday – with all three receiving Queen’s Birthday honours last year.

Whitelock (nee Sharland) is currently training with the Vantage Black Sticks between her Palmerston North home and Auckland, as she prepares to join Barbara Kendall and Dame Val Adams as the only women to attend five Olympics.

The 2020 season saw the mother of two come out of retirement as she sought that elusive Olympic medal.

Gaddum (nee Naylor) attended three Olympics (2004, 2008 and 2012) alongside Whitelock and retired as the most capped Black Stick at 274 matches – now overtaken by current captain Stacey Michelsen with 287 caps.

Gaddum said “it is an incredible honour, and to be recognised alongside my great mate Kayla makes it extra special”.

Emily Gaddum
MC Lesley Murdoch and Emily Gaddum

The pair’s impact on the game has transcended beyond their playing efforts with the pair heavily involved with youth coaching.

In 2019 Gaddum took on the role of Executive Officer for the Hockey Foundation, and she has been instrumental in helping create new scholarship opportunities for those who would otherwise struggle to participate in hockey.

Since retirement 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 programmes.

Whitelock has also been involved with coaching, helping out at a Hawke’s Bay academy in 2006 during her recovery from an ACL tear. In recent years she has been coaching alongside her sister Verity Sharland at Palmerston North Girls High School.

Whitelock has enjoyed helping out the next generation and hopes the honour will inspire more to pick up a stick.

“I think it’s great for hockey, for players in the community to see our sport be recognised”.

Leberman has been championing women in sport and education for more than 20 years. The Massey University professor helped found Women in Sport Aotearoa and the university New Zealand women in leadership programme.

Leberman has also managed the Junior Black Sticks women’s hockey team, has been stand-in manager for the senior women, has served on the boards of Volleyball New Zealand, Western Netball and Hockey Manawatū, and coaches at her Taekwondo Manawatū club.

  • March 22nd, 2021 in
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