Nyree Hanna – Interview


My mum and dad were both into sports and encouraged my five sisters and I to participate. From a young age I was taken to hockey games and tournaments in the winter and to swimming club in the summer.

I think it was because a number of my family members were coaches including my mum who spent hours coaching sport. It seemed like a natural progression to follow. We were always taught that it is good to give back to something you have got a lot out of.

When I first started teaching the school I was at did not have a lot of sports so I took on that role and coached cricket, volleyball, basketball and hockey.

There was not a lot of courses readily available but I was able to complete some and was lucky enough to work as an assistant coach with a great coaching mentor.

Yes I am the Deputy Principal at Kaitao Middle School. I believe that my teaching background has certainly had a positive impact on my coaching. It has enabled me to set up environments and ensured that I have good organisational skills. It has also assisted me in seeing team and individual dynamics. I see a hockey team as a class and work on ways to engage the players. I think as a teacher you also become a real team player, learn to take advice and are constantly looking at new and innovative ways to do things, which has benefited my coaching. I am very lucky in that our National Tournaments for hockey fall in the school holidays. With regard to coaching a school team there has been struggles in terms of making trainings and games as I have a 45-minute commute to work. My school is great though and they give me the week off to attend the Secondary School Tournament week.

Over the past 20 years I have coached a variety of school and representative teams with a mixture of results. I have coached the Midlands U18 Girls for the past three years. Last year we won the National Championship and this year we won silver.

As a coach I believe it is important to have an environment/culture that develops players who are willing to learn and be risk takers. I encourage players to make decisions based on courage not on fear. Players need to be able to challenge themselves, their teammates and coaching staff to be the best they can be. My philosophy has developed over the years based on my teaching and also listening to some good sports psychologists.

In hockey in New Zealand I believe there is a real lack of woman coaches the higher up the grades you go. In the most recent National Hockey League only 1 of the 8 women’s teams had a woman as a head coach. It is different for a sport like netball which is very much female dominated and most definitely the norm for the coach to be a woman. The media in New Zealand is sport focused but again it is of the male dominated sports. Netball coaches in New Zealand do get a lot of coverage and treated like their male counterparts in other sports. I personally don’t believe there is enough of a push by governing bodies to get more woman coaches into sports.