THREE AMIGOS: Sisters Veronica Elliot, Sue Wakefield and Carol Pike are the heartbeat of the Koowinda Hockey Club, which will officially celebrate 40 years of history next weekend. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By MITCH RODD

KOOWINDA Hockey Club will always be a legacy of sisters Veronica Elliot, Carol Pike and Sue Wakefield.

It has been four decades since Veronica and Carol (then Wakefield) were forced to create their own hockey team after graduating from Coomealla High School, thus not being eligible for their side.

Fast forward to 2019 and Koowinda has become one of the most decorated clubs in the Sunraysia Hockey Association (SHA) with 18 senior and 10 junior premierships across all grades.

Next weekend, players, members and supporters of the club, past and present, will reunite to celebrate 40 years of history on and off the field.

Veronica, Carol and Sue have been the heartbeat of Koowinda since its inception, and the club became a real family affair once their second generation came through the ranks.

Carol’s three sons Nathan, Chris and Josh, Veronica’s two children Melissa and David (dec.), and Sue’s youngsters Jade, Thomas and Sarah have all played hockey at one point or another. Sue has even played a game alongside all three in the A Grade Men’s division recently.

In fact, Jade is currently an Under 21 representative for Australia Country and South Australia.

The club also has a current Australian Country assistant coach, Jamie Pain, playing A Grade men.

Koowinda has gone a long way further than any of the sisters could have imagined.

“When we originally started we were just a B Grade women’s side, then in 1983 we actually won a premiership so they pushed us up into A Grade for the next season on,” Veronica said.

“When school finished Carol and I were still playing for the school side, so we got told we needed to sort out a different name and uniform, and we needed another coach.

“We had to go away and think about another name, and I just came up with the name (Koowinda) and at the next training session that was voted in by the team.

“It just basically came out of my head! I had a dream and that’s where I came up with it after that.

“Carol and I started first because Susan is about 10 years younger than me, then she came along a bit later, and it just all developed that all of our kids played over time as well.

“It wasn’t until 1994 we got a Merbein team that was struggling for numbers that joined in with us, and the following year we formed our A Grade Men’s side. And it’s just grown and grown from there, and we now have juniors as well as seniors.”

On the field Koowinda has tasted plenty of success.

Of their 18 senior premierships, four have come in A Grade Women, including back-to-back in 2017 and ’18. The current side is undefeated on top of the ladder in the quest for the treble.

Since forming in 1995, the A Grade Men’s side have been a force in the SHA. They won back-to-back titles in their first two seasons, before going on an unprecedented run of seven consecutive premierships from 2006 until 2012.

The club have won two B Grade Women’s and three B Grade Men’s premierships.

Veronica said being a family-oriented club has always been at the heart of Koowinda.

“I think it’s the team side of it, the mateship (we enjoy),” she said.

“We used to have a lot of social events, even in the early days, so it’s been really good right the way through.”

The Koowinda Hockey Club’s 40 year celebrations will be held at the Mildura Golf Resort on Saturday, July 20. Dress code is semi-formal with no denim.

Tickets are still available, as are special order merchandise items.

For more information or to book contact Vicki on 0408 335 513 or Antonella on 0417 450 139.