Team Northumbria Hockey head into the new BUCS season buoyed by an impromptu training session with Team GB's Rio Olympic gold medallist Alex Danson.
After warming up, the team ran through drills with Danson providing feedback and advice. At the end of the session they had plenty of questions for her. And all the team lined up for photos with Alex and her gold medal.
“I don’t know if I will make it to the next Olympics but we’ll see,” she said as she pulled out a rainbow sock. “I brought the medal in my rainbow sock because the box it comes in is massive!”
When asked about how the team celebrated their Olympic win, she added: “We’re not really party animals. We had a dinner at the Team GB house with all of our families and friends and we had an amazing night. It was the most incredible experience staying in Rio. You spend your life trying to get to an Olympic games and, in all honesty, nothing prepares you for it.”
Thinking back to the moment when she realised she had finally won gold - after a bronze at London 2012 - she said: “It was a really special moment. I haven’t actually seen the footage of us winning but at the time it just didn’t sink in. The night we won we had media at 6am but when I got in I couldn’t sleep because of the adrenaline - I just lay there until it was time to get up.”
After a training session that consisted of practising drills, goal scoring and stick work, Danson explained how she herself got into hockey.
“My mum - even though I never saw her play - was a big inspiration in getting me to play hockey," she added. "My PE teacher also really got me into it. I didn’t play at my school but when I started I played for the local boys’ club for two years, I absolutely loved it. Years later I still have that enthusiasm to play and stay fit.
“It’s no different at my level. You have that team feeling, the way you all feel when you play at Northumbria is exactly how we feel when we play. That feeling never goes away and it’s the main reason I love it.”
But it wasn't all about the hockey. Danson is a self-confessed foodie and added: “I love a good strong mature cheddar. Also Brie and a massive hunk of bread and some lovely Stilton. I’m vegetarian so my favourite meal is pea fritters and chips!”
As for her thoughts on the TN hockey team, she said: “The most fun thing about coming to places like this is seeing a young, fantastic team working well together.
"I really enjoyed showing them how to work together even better. As for getting people into hockey, the Olympics did so much for our sport, around nine million people watched our match! So if you’re interested just sign up to a local club or at the university and enjoy it!”