For the love of the game

Mark Pike is the new regional hockey coach director of the Sunshine Coast/Gympie district.
Mark Pike is the new regional hockey coach director of the Sunshine Coast/Gympie district. Tanya Easterby

THE humid Gympie summers will take some getting used to but English-born Mark Pike is looking forward to taking up the position of regional coaching director of the Sunshine Coast/Gympie hockey district.

Pike, 26, has been newly promoted to the three-year role and his work will see him become a familiar face at Gympie Hockey.

The Englishman relocated to Queensland after working in Perth and was being shown around Gympie Hockey's facilities Monday by Gympie Hockey Association president Ian Wenzel.

Pike was feeling enthusiastic about his new role.

"I'm looking forward to helping develop the next crop of stars and talent for the future," he said.

"There's a lot of talented kids out there and I'm keen to strengthen the junior base and improve participation."

Pike's arrival in Gympie also signals an opportunity for two school-aged hockey fanatics. Gympie Hockey Association is offering two trainee positions where the successful applicants can strive for a Certificate III in Sport and Recreation.

"We have two trainees lined up at the moment but they are yet to be confirmed," Wenzel said.

Pike sees his new role as a mentor and hopes his success will be evident with state and regional player selections coming from Gympie stocks.

There is also a plan to strengthen the Wide Bay team in representative hockey.

At a club level, Pike hopes to help the Gympie Hockey Association stay on track with its goal to remain financially sustainable, particularly as competition remains fierce in Gympie for new players with a host of sports on offer.

"I want to make sure hockey continues to grow in Gympie," he said.

To kickstart the year, Pike will be visiting Gympie schools over the coming weeks to spread the word about hockey.

Meanwhile, new and returning players can register for the hockey season with two sign-on opportunities later this week.

A sign-on Friday evening runs from 5-7pm while another this Saturday starts at 10am before wrapping up at 2pm.

A jumping castle will keep the kids amused while hockey gear will be made available for children wanting to get a taste of the sport.

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