Athlete Spotlight: Georgia Wilson, on passion for sport, mindset and rehab after injury.

​We caught up with elite athlete from the Hockeyroos, Georgia Wilson to ask her a little about her passion for sport, mindset, motivation and rehab after injury.

How did you first become interested in hockey? Have you always considered yourself to be a competitive person?

I grew up in the hills of Perth which meant there were limited sports available when I was younger. Three to be exact. The hockey fields were close driving distance so hockey it was, a lot of my teammates have international sport in their genes but a family with no sporting history has meant I’ve had to work perhaps slightly more to create something that hasn’t come as naturally.

I’ve always been an extremely competitive person and I’ve always played to win. Whether it was at school, at home or on the hockey field. As I’ve become older, I’ve had to learn that I can’t be the best at everything which was a real challenge for a long time when I felt pressured to be successful in all areas of my life. 

Did you ever participate in individual sport? If so, how does it differ to the mindset of participating in a team sport? 

I only ever participated in individual sports which benefited my hockey, sports such as cross country for endurance or athletics for speed etc. Although hockey is a team sport, there is still a huge emphasis on individual mindset with the game broken down into hundreds of mini 1-on-1 contests during the match.

The difference of competing in a team sport however involves a lot more awareness and flexibility to ensure harmony whilst working with others in a group setting. I’m expected to be selfless actions and behaviour, always having the groups success in my mind. This can be difficult when it means compromising your own individual success and goals sometimes but when you remember what you’re ultimately working towards as a team it makes it a lot easier. 

What have you found to be the best combination of training for your performance on the field? Strength and cardio training in the gym? Skills training? 

I’ve always valued the importance of having a strong base fitness level, working hard to develop my fitness through conditioning exercises. I like to vary my training up and alternate between running, bike or swim sessions which also reduces the loading on my body.

My attitude in the gym is very similar to my attitude when training for skills, seeing the real benefit of working hard to improve my strength to try and reduce injuries. After suffering with two major injuries over the past several years, I’ve had to take this approach in the gym but skills sessions are still the most important part of my training schedule. The other conditioning and strength sessions just help facilitate the skills session to become just that bit easier and of a higher quality.

What does it feel like to wear green and gold? Do you remember the first time you received your Hockeyroos jersey? 

I absolutely love having the opportunity to represent my country and wear the green and gold. To hear the national anthem being played and to know my family and friends are excitingly nestled around the television at home makes it so special. Although I’m the only person who gets to wear my jersey, a lot of pride is shared with those who play a special role in my life and the support they’ve had in helping me to wear it each time.

My first time receiving the Hockeyroos bodysuit was extremely memorable. Every player in the team makes a conscious effort to celebrate and congratulate you for your investment to get to that stage and your bodysuit almost represents an official entry into the Hockeyroos sisterhood. 

What do you do for recovery and self-care? 

I’m a very active and engaged person which is why I’ve had to work hard to develop time away from hockey. I try and meditate around 5 days per week, with each session ranging between 30-45 minutes long. Although it’s a habit I still need to actively enforce, I know that it’s vital for my mental health and anxiety levels.

I’ll try and fit in a walk every day which I find is a great way to complete active movement, before returning home to foam roll and either go for a recovery swim at the beach or in the pool. I also prioritise getting enough sleep, being aware that I become more irritable and on edge when I get less than 7 or 8 hours per night. 

You have us salivating as we browse through your Instagram posts on @thenourishedathlete. How important is nutrition to you in fueling your performance in sport? 

Nutrition is extremely important for my performance and especially as a midfielder. I’m often required to do lots of short sharp bursts into attack and defense so I need to make sure that I’m fueling correctly before a session. I’ll always eat 5-6 meals per day, making sure that I have something sweet after dinner every night.

I’ve struggled with body image issues in the past which have fueled my desire to ensure that our young and aspiring athletes truly become educated about the power food plays and how vital it is for elite sport.

You recently suffered quite the injury on the field. (1) What went through your mind in the moment of the injury? (2) How have you managed your mindset throughout your rehabilitation? (3) Did you know you would return to the field? 

I knew in my heart that I had done my ACL when it first occurred. Although I hadn’t ever injured my knee previously, I felt an internal pain deep within the knee which confirmed my doubts. I was initially very overwhelmed, describing the feeling of helplessness and despair as the worst in all my life. I had a lot of great plans for that year, setting myself the goal of competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and to really have my entire year of competition destroyed instantly took a long time to process.

I’ve been quite vocal during the difficult ordeal, deciding to express my emotions publically in an attempt to comfort others who may be experiencing similar hardships. The mental barriers associated with injury in sport is often overlooked and to have a lot of strangers reach out and bravely sharing their stories with me provided a huge amount of motivation to return to international competition. Not only for myself, but for them as well.

My WAIS coach told me from a very early age to focus on the process and I had to force myself to shift away from thinking about the overwhelming task of returning to international competition and instead complete the monotonous and often mind numbing rehab exercises that I was required to do on a daily basis. 

You studied a Bachelor of Science (Human Biology and Marketing). Firstly, congratulations on your graduation! (1) Why did you decide to complete tertiary study? (2) How important would you say education is to those pursuing a career as an athlete? 

Although I’m required to train like other elite athletes, field hockey players are sadly not provided the monetary return that other sporting are luxuriously rewarded with. It’s for this reason that I’ve always made a conscious effort to ensure I hold a high standard in my academic life and pursue a career outside of sport.

When I tore my ACL, it was the first that I learnt how important it is to diversify your options so that you can prepare for the unexpected and minimize the damaging impact if your sporting career doesn’t occur how you originally envisioned. It’s almost like a safety net but also provides a great opportunity to build friendships and skills outside of your normal training environment.

Often people told me that I wouldn’t be able to do both and my advice is to simply ignore them. You certainly can, it will be difficult at times and you may have to sacrifice both areas by reducing your study load which results in your degree taking slightly longer than others but the joy and pride you’ll experience when you graduate definitely outweighs any of the minor obstacles associated with pursuing both simultaneously. 

We were recently thrilled to host you and the team at our Parkville Stadium location (previously known as State Netball & Hockey Centre). From memory, it was a 38 degree day that day (and your first day back after your injury)! (1) How was the game? (2) How do you withstand and stay focused no matter the conditions?

I was so nervous about playing my first international gam in over 14 months that I completely forgot that it was even that hot! The game was a complete blur from memory but to be part of a winning team that beat the Dutch in the first time in over 14 years was phenomenal.

We’ll often discuss any potential difficulties we may encounter before the game starts. Whether it includes noise from the crowd, injuries, wet weather conditions etc. is irrelevant but it provides the opportunity for each of us to have a plan of attack if we need to deviate and adapt.

How do you think we can show our support to athletes on their journey in sport (as they soar to success and if they stumble)? 

Social media acts as a great opportunity for fans to show their support of athletes rise to fame. Since we’re frequently travelling away from home, the amount of physical contact we actually get with family and friends can become quite limited so its extremely comforting when individuals interact with us online and remind us that they’re supporting us all of the way.

A lot of the messages I received from strangers really did give me a much needed on boost on days when I thought the mountain seemed too tall so to reach out and let us know if we’re inspiring you also provides an indescribable amount of motivation.

Finally, what does who or what inspires you to get up every day and #beyourbest?

My youngest sister Mckenzie inspires me to get up every day to be my best. She encountered a challenging time last year suffering with poor mental health which led to an eating disorder hospitalization and the strength she’s had to show every single day, at every single meal inspires me. She really is a warrior and I’m so proud that I get to call her my baby sister, even if she is taller than me…..


ABOUT GEORGIA WILSON 

Georgia Wilson is an Australian Field Hockey Player, who made her Youth National Team debut in 2016, and quickly made her way up to the Senior National Team - the Hockeyroos - by 2017. 

A devastating ACL tear in early 2018 saw her take the sidelines for the entirety of the year, undergoing a full knee reconstruction and gruelling 14-month rehabilitation. The significant injury provided her the opportunity however to become the youngest Hockeyroo amongst a squad of 27 athletes and complete her Bachelors degree, specialising in Human Biology and Marketing. It was also during this time she expanded her love of cooking and nutrition, launching The Nourished Athlete, which educates those interested in health and fitness with recipes, travel advice and lifestyle improvements. 

After suffering with depression and anxiety when challenged with the diagnosis of her mother with breast cancer, her parent’s divorce, and major sporting injury, Georgia has become extremely passionate about the role and necessity of mental health in both sporting and personal life. 

She is an ambassador for youth mental health organisation, Zero2Hero and is one of only seven athletes in Australian to become a Lifeline Community Custodian. 

 

Interested in participating in the first Activ8 hockey camps? Georgia is holding them in Perth during the July school holidays for players between 6 - 16 years of age. If you're a keen hockey player - it might be worth the flight ticket. Find out more and purchase tickets online now


Train where the best in the world do at Melbourne Sports Centres. Sign up for our 7 Day Free Pass today and gain exclusive, unlimited access to our world-class facilities. Discover what it takes to #beyourbest. Sign up now.