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May 2019,

The ‘complications’ of being an athlete

When Dan Harris was selected into the 2018 National Hockey Squad his future looked rosy. He’d had a dream run up to that point. At the 2017 National Hockey League, his performance in the winning team was so impressive that he was invited to debut for the Black Sticks at the Oceania Cup. He’d even scored on debut. But at his first international tournament in 2018, Dan hit the first of a series of unfortunate setbacks. He was struck down by illness and unable to play most of the games. Soon after, his disappointment was compounded when he wasn’t selected for the Commonwealth Games.

Then, quite literally to add injury to illness, he pulled a hamstring while the New Zealand team were away at the Games. Several weeks of rehab followed.

Once back in action, Dan returned to form and was thrilled to be selected for the New Zealand team to tour India & Japan. But just prior to the trip he had even more misfortune, contracting glandular fever. Forced to spend several months recuperating, his hockey career was not going according to plan.

“I ended up with lot of time on my hands that would ordinarily have been taken up with hockey,” Dan said.

Fortunately, his Athlete Life Advisor Chris Arthur was on hand to support him during this challenging chapter.

Together Dan and Chris assessed each aspect of his wellbeing – physical, mental, social, spiritual – and considered what could be done to optimise each component.

It was a period of his life he says that was challenging, yet character building. “Looking back, I guess I learnt how to accept things that are out of my control.”

Dan continues to catch up with his Athlete Life Advisor every couple of months. “I like to bounce ideas off her and really value her educated opinion and perspective on things.”

Currently at AUT undertaking a communications degree part-time, Dan is yet to decide what else the future will hold. Chris recently invited him to undertake a comprehensive strengths assessment to help him understand his potential. “It was useful to clarify aspects of my life and consider how to use the things I’m good at.”

More used to being a member of a team, Dan appreciates the one-on-one nature of working with his Athlete Life Advisor. “Most people in my life need something from me or have an idea of what I should be doing,” Dan says. “Chris simply asks me what I want. It’s great to have an advisor whose only objective is to assist me with the complications that come with being a high performance athlete.”

Despite having had more than his fair share of complications, Dan’s desire to once again play for the Black Sticks has never been stronger. “I’d like the chance to give it my best crack…to see what I’m capable of. I’d hate to feel like I never had the chance to fulfil my potential.”

What happens next in the story of Dan’s hockey career is yet to be written. He is of course hoping for a happy ending, but says whatever happens he will be satisfied if he gets to give it his best shot.