HOCKEY: Rockhampton hockey player Kaleb Christensen celebrated his 16th birthday during the Queensland under-18 selection trials held recently in Brisbane.
He received the perfect present at the end of the testing three-day event, named in the state team alongside fellow Rocky rep Lachlan Hardy to compete at the national championships in Hobart next month.
"I was stoked,” Christensen said of his selection, a clear nod to his talent given he will be playing with teammates several years his senior.
"I'm really looking forward to the experience of playing hockey at that higher level with the older boys.
"It will be great to take on the different states and hopefully we can come home with a gold medal.
"It's a real confidence boost but I know I have to keep training hard and trialling well if I want to keep getting selected in the future.”
Christensen has donned the maroon of Queensland before in both forms of the game. His most recent representation was with the under-15 indoor boys team which scored silver at the national titles in January.
He thrives on the demanding midfield role in outdoor, which requires a high fitness level and demands the ability to work in both attack and defence.
Those skills will be on show tomorrow when Christensen lines up with his club side Southern Suburbs in the opening game of the Rockhampton Hockey Association 2017 A-grade season at Kalka Shades.
Souths will take on last year's grand finalists Frenchville Rovers, and the talented teenager knows his side will face a serious test against a team keen to reinforce its standing as a serious premiership contender.
In today's other men's game, Wanderers take on Park Avenue Brothers as they start their campaign to win 13 consecutive titles.
The match-ups are the same in the women's side of the draw.
Christensen has played all his club hockey with Souths, starting as a four-year-old who was taught to play by his older brothers.
"Watching them really encouraged me to play. I just developed a love for the game and I really enjoy the chance to work in a team and to meet new people,” he said.
Christensen was among the guests at the recent RHA Green and Gold Gala, which paid tribute to the city's three male Olympians - Mark Knowles, Jamie Dwyer and Matt Gohdes.
"It was really good to get to talk to the boys one-on-one about their careers,” he said.
"It really is inspiring that three players from Rockhampton have gone on to play for Australia at the Olympics and one of them (Mark Knowles) is from my club.”
Christensen has aspirations of following in their esteemed footsteps.
"My first big goal is to make the Queensland Blades and after that, push through to make the Kookaburras,” he said.