Completing the HSC is challenging as it is, but Courtney Schonell is balancing school commitments with training for the 2018 Youth Olympics in Argentina.
Schonell has played hockey for as long as she can remember, having replaced her dummy for a hockey stick at the age of two.
The 18-year-old sportstar has played hockey nationally since the age of 12 and has represented NSW 15 times.
Schonell was selected twice in the under-16s All Schools Australian Team and attended the Commonwealth Games with NSWIS to play practice matches with international teams.
Schonell was also named in the under-21s Australian National Junior Squad for two years in a row with a selection coming up to travel to New Zealand for a tournament.
Her sporting success is on the rise as she joins eight-seven of the nation’s brightest young sporting prospects who will represent Australia at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, the world’s largest multi-sport competition for young athletes.
The Australian team will compete against 4,000 athletes, aged 15-18 for 206 countries in the Argentinian capital across 10 days of competition, running from October 6 to 18.
Schonell’s accolades are already prolific, named Player of the Tournament for Australia and the series in South Africa, Player of the match in Europe, Player of the Tournament at the 2018 18’s nations, Captain of NSW, selected in the national junior squad as well as being selected for the second year in NSWIS.
“At under-18’s national, I gained selections in the Youth Olympic Qualifiers team which travelled to Port Moresby earlier on in the year,” Schonell said.
“After qualifying, the coach decided to announce another squad to select the team that will then represent the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina in 2018.
“When I went away on a camp in Adelaide for three days, I was lucky enough to be selected for this endeavour.”
The news came as music to Schonell’s ears who felt nervous as she waited for the outcome.
“Once I received the good news, I had to keep quiet about it. However, I was very relieved about making it and being able to stay composed and be professional,” she said.
“When I got off the phone with my coach, I shared the experience with my family and was very excited about what was next to come.”
Schonell will take to the field as a tournament striker in the Youth Olympics. She said the attributes she aimed to bring to the team included dedication, support, leadership and a resilience to allow herself and her team to strive for a win.
“I am training five days a week to prepare myself for a fast, intense and competitive tournament. My training includes a combination of skills and fitness under fatigue.”
Schonell said she felt ecstatic to represent her country at the Olympics and make herself, her team and her family proud.
“I think my biggest challenge will be coping with the atmosphere as there will be lots of fans and spectators, but I plan to overcome this experience by focusing on my game and what my goals are,” she said.
Schonell said her future sporting ambitions were to secure a position on the Hockeyroos squad, improve her game and stay focused on her goal.
“My experience with hockey has allowed me to travel and play the game I love,” she said.
“Hockey has enabled me to become a better leader and a better version of myself. The joy and excitement of playing for your state and country is an experience I will never forget.
“I aim to return home from the Youth Olympics with the gold medal and an experience I will never forget.”