The Northern Inland Academy of Sport is lucky to have talented, enthusiastic and committed coaches to lead the region's athletes in their sporting developments.
NIAS is proud to have Helen Willis coaching the girls in the Wests Entertainment Group Hockey Program.
She won the 2018 NIAS coach of the year award and has been involved with hockey since she was in high school.
As a player, Willis is a defender.
It is no surprise that Willis has a wealth of knowledge to pass on to NIAS athletes, with so many years of playing the sport herself.
This includes having played at a state level, and also playing at a club in Sydney where she was surrounded by Olympians Alyson Annan, Loretta Dorman and Lisa Naughton.
Willis said: "There were many very good players at that club that taught me so much in those few years."
She also knows what playing hockey looks like from an umpire's perspective.
Beginning her umpiring in Sydney while still playing, Willis often did a lot of work with the Parramatta Women's Association.
A few years ago in Tamworth, she formed an umpiring program for junior hockey girls.
This program has since created pathways and produced many great umpires that have gone on to umpire at state and national championships.
Willis has coached many state teams including the Hockey NSW under-13 Lions girls team that went on to be national champions.
Willis has also coached multiple HNSW Centre of Development teams, as well as multiple York Cup and Kim Small Shield teams.
She is the current first- and second-grade women's coach at Tudor Wests Hockey Club.
Being a sports coach is a very rewarding position that presents the opportunity to pass on knowledge and experience.
To be able to teach young hockey players new skills and watch them grow as a team is one of the reasons Willis enjoys being a coach.
She said: "If I can get players to believe in themselves, do their job, trust their team mates to do their job, then the team can play and achieve together."