Hanging up the pads – Retirement from International Hockey

Rachael Lynch

Where does time go? It’s been 16 years and 233 international games since I first stepped on the field with the Australian Hockeyroos.  In many ways, I am still the energetic, fiercely competitive, proudly patriotic player that took the field for that very first game, but I have also grown and changed with experience, support and time. While the desire to play on is strong, I recognize that the focus for the team is now on Paris 2024 and beyond, and it is time for me to focus elsewhere.  I have decided to retire from playing international hockey.

Hockey has given me so much. It has opened up doors that I never imagined when I started playing: Lifelong friends, health, travel and skills that I know will help me to tackle anything life could throw at me. I am so grateful for the opportunities.

At the same time, it has not always been a smooth ride.  I believe it’s the difficult times that have allowed me to grow into the person I am today.  I’ve always been a fighter, especially when it’s for those I care most about.  After the 2016 Rio Olympics, when many of my good friends retired, I decided to stay on and to help create an environment within the Hockeyroos that the next generation of talented young girls wanted to be part of.  I wanted to help build something bigger than ourselves. I feel incredibly proud of the change I have been able to help initiate in this.  

Throughout my career, maintaining perspective has been critical in enabling me to sustain performance and navigate the pressures, the highs and the lows that come with elite level sport.  The last 18 months have reinforced the importance of staying true to your values and standing up for what you believe in.  There has been one quote that has guided me and given me perspective throughout my career.  My former teammate, coach and good friend Stacia Strain told me that “People don’t remember you for what you achieve, they remember how you made them feel.”  It’s not about winning medals and individual accolades. It’s staying behind and signing autographs for the kids who’ve patiently waited. It’s responding to every message from fans who’ve taken the time to write. It’s helping teammates grow and learn. It’s being brave enough to speak up for those who can’t or won’t. It’s giving back through community work or coaching. It’s choosing to be kind above all else.

I’m excited about the journey ahead as I continue with my life beyond the Hockeyroos. I hope to continue my involvement in sport at an advisory level including current positions with the World Olympians Association and the Australian Olympic Committee and will forever stay grounded through my work as a nurse and mental health ambassador. I’ve long believed that there is significant gap in mental health education, training and support for young athletes striving to compete at the highest level.  I am now keen to dedicate my time and energy to drive improvement in this space.

I want to thank every single person who has played a part in my career. My family, my dear friends, Victorian Institute of Sport, Hockey Victoria, Hockey Australia, the hockey fans, my sponsors (OBO, Stirling Ranges Beef, No Pong, Revo and Atlas) and the more than 120 Hockeyroos girls I played alongside over the last 16 years.

And to those who stood by my side last year as I fought and won the toughest battle of my hockey career. You know who you are.

I wish the current and future Roos all the best and I look forward to seeing them grow into amazing players and people over the coming years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.