What began with a visit to a pantomime on ice on the age of three has taken Katie Marsden everywhere in the world. The subsequent cease, she hopes, is Beijing.
However to go there, she and her team-mates have to attain what she says can be a “mindblowing” first – to qualify a Nice Britain girls’s ice hockey group for the Winter Olympic Video games.
As a result of this isn’t a group of full-time athletes. Most of them have jobs away from the rink – a trainer and a sports activities therapist, a grocery store group chief and a forensic psychological well being healthcare employee. Marsden is at medical faculty, finding out to change into a health care provider.
“It will be so nice as a result of it could simply present that we do have a lot expertise on this nation,” the 22-year-old advised BBC Sport. “It will be nice to get that recognition and present that we will play with the most effective of them.
“It will put girls’s hockey on the map within the UK, and hopefully get extra individuals concerned from the youthful degree. That is what you’ll want to develop a sport.”
Ladies’s ice hockey has been a part of the Winter Olympic programme since 1998, the lads’s since 1920. GB has not certified a males’s group since 1948, 12 years after profitable gold.
The GB girls’s marketing campaign to qualify for the 2022 Olympics begins on Thursday, after they tackle the primary spherical of qualification in Nottingham in a bunch match with South Korea, Slovenia and Iceland.
However it’s a journey that began for Marsden so a few years earlier than this, on a visit together with her grandparents.
She and her brother initially took up determine skating after that panto go to, however Marsden, already a “tomboy” at that pre-school age, rapidly dominated it “too girly” and so picked up a stick as an alternative.
Nearly 10 years later, the game took her throughout the Atlantic the place she would stay for some years. Scouted to attend a boarding faculty in Canada at 13, that led to her later enrolling at Trinity Faculty in Connecticut, United States, the place she may mix her hockey together with her research in neuroscience.
Finding out and enjoying Stateside is a transfer few British ice hockey gamers have traditionally made, however a “regular stream” is now heading there as scouts realise “there are British gamers who’re as much as the usual of the American expertise pool”.
On leaving house so younger, Marsden stated: “It was very scary however I would not have modified it for the world.
“I used to be extremely shy once I went, however then I got here again and other people had been like, ‘oh, she’s modified, she’s gobby’.
“I would not have been capable of do it with out my household. My mum stated she had many sleepless nights. She hated it the primary few months. It was bizarre once I got here again throughout Covid as a result of I hadn’t been house for that size of interval earlier than, so then to be locked inside collectively… Mum stated ‘I did miss you however that is getting a bit a lot’.”
Now, aged 22, Marsden is again within the UK completely, in her second 12 months at Hull York Medical Faculty. She hopes, within the years to return, to change into a sports activities physician – a dream born out of her interactions with the “complete medical group” as an athlete.
She had initially needed to be a vet, however that concept was quickly quashed when she realised she and animals “do not get alongside that nicely”.
She will get alongside nicely together with her group although. Marsden has been a crucial a part of the Nice Britain set-up since her debut in 2016, a winner of three World Championship Division II Group A medals.
Subsequent up for Marsden and her GB team-mates are these Olympic qualifiers, happening from 7 to 10 October.
And they’ll have house benefit on their facet too as a result of the qualifiers – cancelled in 2020 – moved to Nottingham after South Korea withdrew from internet hosting.
Group victory would ship GB into November’s last qualification spherical, the place a ticket to Beijing 2022 can be up for grabs.
“We’re very, very excited, in all probability extra excited now that it is in Nottingham,” Marsden stated.
“The journey to Korea would have been unbelievable however with the ability to play in entrance of household and mates, and to get as many individuals within the rink as attainable, it is simply going so as to add to the expertise and hopefully give us that enhance to beat everybody.
“We’re assured, it is a actually good buzz, we have a extremely nice group with some good new younger faces, who’ve introduced some actually good power.
“Everybody’s simply actually excited to get going, as a result of particularly with Covid, it has been fairly an anticipated occasion with it being cancelled final 12 months and us not with the ability to get on a rink, and now it is right here.”