Nathan Ephraums: Local legend and Olympics hockey star

As we count down to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris, make sure you keep an eye out (and cheer loudly!) for Hotham local Nathan Ephraums. Nathan is part of the Kookaburras, Australia men's national field hockey team, and will be representing Australia at the Olympics in Paris.

Nathan and his family are familiar faces around Hotham - and I can’t wait to watch him and the team with my kids. According to Nathan, a lot of his success stems back to his early days and dedication to his local clubs. He kindly took time away from training to share some of his experiences. 
Where did you grow up and begin your training?
I was always around hockey from a young age as my dad was coaching at Sandringham Hockey Club in Melbourne. I grew up playing for them until Sandringham merged with Moorabbin Hockey Club in 2006 to make Southern United Hockey Club, as it is today, and that’s where I spent the rest of my time playing while I was in Melbourne.
When reflecting on your grassroots beginnings in Melbourne’s South East, was there an early pivotal moment when you realised your love for the sport could turn into a global career?
It’s hard to pinpoint a specific moment. I always loved playing hockey and I got the opportunity to play at just about every national championships from Under-12s all the way up until Under-21s. That was motivating and I loved the high-performance nature of those tournaments. A few solid individual performances gave me the confidence that I could it to the next level.
How important are local clubs like yours in shaping not only those with sporting career aspirations but also moulding its members into well-rounded individuals?
They’re vital from a performance point of view but the great thing about local hockey clubs is they’re family and community based. You get the opportunity to play in mixed teams with different age groups all the time and experiences like that are a perfect way to foster great values and build all-round good individuals. 
In terms of competition, your local clubs also give you access to the best players in the state, in your age bracket and then from there, the very best in the Premier League competition which is crucial to getting better. 
What advice would you give to aspiring young athletes in our community who dream of following in your footsteps?

Play as much hockey as you can while growing up, as that will always help you develop and get better. I fondly remember playing before and after training sessions and practising all the different skills I could. A great way to initially get involved with hockey is to try HookIn2Hockey at a local club, this will give you a great taste for what the sport is all about, as well as having a great time with other kids your age.
We have incredible local sporting clubs in Hotham. They play such an important role in shaping people – whether you become a world-leading athlete and Olympian like Nathan, or simply want to develop lifelong connections, confidence or some fitness!

Good luck Nathan – all of Hotham is behind you!