Career. For Tigers Hockey Club president Mel Haywood, the first round of Circular Head Hockey Association was more than just another season opener.
After more than 25 years with the club, Haywood reached her 400 game milestone on Saturday during her side’s Division Two clash with Irishtown.
“I’m very proud to be a member of the Tigers Hockey Club,” she says, beginning the season with pre-game nerves.
With a few changes to the line up and a new coach in Melissa Stokes, Haywood said she was thrilled to celebrate her milestone with a win.
Joining the club in 1991, Haywood was enlisted by then coach Peter Grey as a fill-in.
Since then, she has missed just one season whilst pregnant with son Ty.
“I sometimes think, maybe I should retire as I’m nearly 50. But hey, what would I do of a Saturday if I didn’t play hockey?”
Haywood contributes her time to the club in many ways but takes special pride in junior development.
Having coached Tigers’ Div Three side and Circular Head’s Country Gold representative team in the past, Haywood has been instrumental in junior hockey at an association level for many years.
“I’ve watched lots of kids come up through the ranks, starting at Minkey and now playing Greater Northern League,” she said.
“I also have made lifelong friends with lots of people from different clubs over the years.”
She says her greatest achievement was securing back-to-back premiership titles after years of adversity.
“I mainly play defensive but I do like to sneak up to the forward line for a bit of a change,” she says.
“In my younger years I did play on the forward line either as wing or centre forward, I think I’m more comfortable spending my time on the back line these days.”
However it is the atmosphere that continues to draw Haywood back to the game: “We are very social club and do spend a lot of time together,” she says.
“They are a very loyal bunch of ladies and I look forward to playing another few games with my hockey family.”