IF you've seen Abi Simpson play hockey, chances are you were pretty impressed with her deft touch, yet uncompromising spirit.
The softly spoken 17-year-old was recently selected to represent NSW in the under 21 national championships, despite being several years younger than her contemporaries.
Simpson (pictured) has been playing for Parkes and NSW (at underage levels) for some time now, but this under 21 team selection has a bit of a different flavour to it.
It's a nod to the youngster's performance at the under 18 national championships in Launceston last month despite not being on the radar of the HockeyNSW under 21 selectors.
It's also a nod to Simpson's physical style of play that allows her to thrive amongst older teammates and opponents.
There will be two teams representing NSW at the Australian under 21 national championships in Moorebank, in southwest Sydney, from June 30-July 7.
Simpson will be playing in the Blues team, which is a B-team of sorts - but highlights the strength of NSW when it comes to producing quality hockey players.
She happily admitted earlier this week that being selected to play in the under 21 nationals wasn't something she had thought about.
"It (selection) definitely surprised me; I wasn't expecting anything after the under 18's, so it was awesome to make the 21's squad and then to be picked in the side was even better," Simpson said.
Simpson isn't content just to be a name on the team list either - she sees these national titles as another opportunity to grow as a player.
"I'm really looking forward to the higher level of play at the champs, and I think it will push me and bring out the best in me.
"I'm just looking to work hard, hopefully score a few goals and win some games and continue to make the squad for the years to come," she said.
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When asked on some of the people who had helped her continue to reach her potential and reach the next level, Simpson had a few Parkes hockey identities to thank.
"Joe Davies started me out when I was 13, and taught me how to drag, while Glenn Johnstone, helped me take the next step up.
"Aaron Huppatz coached me all through local juniors, Matt and Will Searl have both taught me a lot, Dan Wilson and Ian Westcott have always been around to support, even when there was no women's team in the premier league and my Dad has given me a lot of tips along the way as well.
"My current premier league coach Graham Thompson has been great; while having some really good players around me like Eloise Purtell, Koby Johnstone, Savannah and India Draper and Jack Westcott on the training track, and in games, has always pushed me to be better with my standards too.
"The support from Parkes Hockey Incorporated has always been incredible for me and my whole family as well - awesome facilities, and development," Simpson said.
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