Village News

Hillsborough Heights' hockey hero

06 May 2024

Hillsborough Heights resident Corinne Pritchard

Growing up in the small rural town of Dargaville, it was evident from a young age that sport would be a huge part of life for Hillsborough Heights resident, Corinne Pritchard.

“Even in the early days I remember I was a very sporty individual – I loved to run and play backyard cricket and rugby with my brother and sisters,” says Corrine.

As she got older, she developed a taste for competition.

“Every year we went to a beach carnival where there were kids’ races and I used to beat everyone hands down. From there, there was no turning back! Although I did have a slight problem - I was a very small person, and even as an adult I’m only 5ft 3!”

Sidelined on the netball court because of her size, Corinne tried her hand at hockey, and thanks to her competitive streak, speed, and skill, soon found herself in the 1st XI hockey team at Dargaville High School. This marked the beginning of her lifelong passion for the game.

Corinne went on to pursue a career in teaching physical education while also playing representative provincial cricket for Auckland and top-level hockey. When health problems forced her to retire from the sports field, she traded in her hockey stick for a whistle and began the next chapter of her life as a hockey umpire.

“I’ve always loved being involved in the game. In 1988 I was made reserve umpire for the Olympics in Seoul. Of course, no one broke a leg or got pregnant, so I was forced to watch the Games from the comfort of home!”

She did however make it to the 2004 Athens Olympics, working as a technical official and nearly copping a hockey stick to the face from an unimpressed player who’d been sent off.

Corinne’s love of sport opened the door to a lifetime of exciting opportunities.

“I’ve travelled to countries I only ever read or dreamed about when I was growing up.”

From Argentina to Holland and everywhere in between, she has packed in her fair share of hockey games across multiple continents, resulting in some impressive accolades. As a life member of the New Zealand Hockey Federation, it came as no surprise when she was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Hockey in 2013.

“They say if you choose a job that you love then you will never work a day in your life, and for me that has been very true. It was a privilege to be a part of the hockey industry for so long, and to have that recognised was really exciting.”

Now Corinne has hung up her whistle, but you can bet that next time the Black Sticks are playing, she’ll be glued to the screen or in the stands!

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