Rachael Lynch is a stalwart of the Hockeyroos, having made her international debut back in 2005.
Beyond hockey, the 31-year-old works as a nurse in neuro rehab at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, and serves as an ambassador for the R U OK? mental health campaign.
She chatted with Inside Sport about the mindset of the goalkeeper, dealing with the pressure of the position and the importance of balance, both on the line and off the pitch.
“I would say hand-eye coordination is the no.1 thing I teach. I think a lot of kids don’t have it, unfortunately, unless you grow up playing a lot of ball sports. There’s plenty of kids now that can’t even catch. You still make the same movement to save the ball, even if you’re not catching it – you have to follow it with your eyes and put it in the middle of your hand.
“There’s plenty of goalkeepers around that aren’t that coordinated, but have learned the art. My style is to go out, be aggressive and attack, because agility is my strength. But we’ve got other goalies who stand on the line, who are patient and make the save as they come.”
“It’s another stereotype I’m trying to break: a lot of goalies are known for being smelly. It comes with the territory – you sweat in the equipment, and it’s hard to wash. I pride myself on looking after my equipment, I wash my gear a couple of times a week. Some people don’t even take it out of their bag.
“No one likes a stinky goalie. It’s not hard, you just wash the gear and air it out. It’s just a laziness that’s crept in with some goalies, and I choose not to do that.”
Behind the Mask
“I’ve always had an interest in mental health – I’m a nurse, so I’ve learnt a bit about it from that end.
A friend of mine suggested I put my name forward to be an ambassador for R U OK? It really resonates with me because it’s about a simple prevention strategy of how we can get people talking to each other, and eliminating the problems that come with bottling things up.
“It’s something within my work environment and my hockey, because we need to look after each other in a high-pressure situation in elite-level sport. We have to live away from our families, we’re all based in Perth and only two members of our team are from WA. I try to spread the message as far as I can, mental health is becoming a big problem. It’s something we can prevent.
“The balance is key for me. The reason I work is I love nursing. It gives me really great perspective with my hocke … to train all day and go to work and think about someone other than myself, I think it’s really grounding. There are things in sport that can sometimes make it seem like the end of the world, but it’s really not, when you go and see what people are going through in a hospital.”