Initially pitched as a book to offer words support for the Jes School (Colaiste Iognaid) senior hockey team in Galway, “Roots Go Deep” – the brainchild of Irish international Brenda Flannery – looks set to evolve into something much bigger.
“It is a book of a collection of inspirational and insightful messages from the hockey, sports and well-being communities,” Flannery says of the book. “It began with words of wisdom and encouragement to the Jes school senior hockey team in Galway earlier this year and has been evolving since.”
To date, she has already sourced over 120 messages from around the hockey world, extending far beyond this island’s shores with global hockey superstars. Gonzalo Peillat, Kayla Whitelock, Caitlin van Sickle and 2014 World Player of the Year Mark Knowles, Self-Pass guru Bernardo Fernandes and Blacksticks coach Darren Smith have all contributed their thoughts. Submissions from the Irish hockey community come from a who’s who of the sport’s finest.
Gonzalo Peillat, Kayla Whitelock, Caitlin van Sickle and 2014 World Player of the Year Mark Knowles, Self-Pass guru Bernardo Fernandes and Blacksticks coach Darren Smith have all contributed their thoughts. Submissions from the Irish hockey community come from a who’s who of the sport’s finest.
Beyond hockey, the likes of Tipperary hurler Noel McGrath and Galway’s David Collins, rower Paul O’Donovan, rugby’s Claire Molloy, Olympians Arthur Lanigan-O’Keefe, Olive Loughnane and Derval O’Rourke are also on board.
“The themes focus on school hockey and the presence of hockey, sport and well-being in our lives,” Flannery explains about Roots Go Deep. “Why do we love hockey and sport at school/youth level? What are the challenges and benefits of sport?“Why is it good for mental and physical health? Four communities overall have written into the book… from hockey, Jes hockey, sports and the wellbeing community. There is a piece from Hockey Ireland about their work in schools and the development of hockey in Ireland.
“There are over 120 messages from here in Ireland and around the world so far. People writing in with experience at all levels of sport including athletes, school hockey, sports team members, and Olympians.
“The magic of it is how at the roots of it all with any team, at any level, is arising to be teamwork, friendship, commitment, balance, focus and fun. Showing there is value in nourishing mental and physical health and enjoying a team environment.
“Sincere thanks everyone who has written in, your contribution is really appreciated and will inspire. All of the energy and input just reflects the strength and passion for sport and health.”
Flannery previously played with UCD – winning the 2012 and 2013 Irish Senior Cup final among other things. – and the Irish national team at the Champions Challenge in 2012. She withdrew from the sport in 2014, enduring mental health issues that she spoke about publicly earlier this year.
In the post, the sub-section that bears the same Roots Go Deep moniker details the importance that sport, hockey and her Jes and Galway connections played in her return to hockey and the value it has brought her.
“The turning point for returning to hockey was inspired by the hockey community. After what I went through physically and mentally, I held a belief I wouldn’t play again. Two moments ignited a new hope for me.
“On an Autumn weekend of an Interprovincial tournament, I called by to say hello to Connacht hockey friends. Watching the game, the girls were giving it their all and playing mighty. And, as coach Richie Malone [a key driving force in Connacht hockey for the last 15 years] said, there were not only 18 players but 18 angels flying about the place playing with heart and togetherness.
“I felt a feeling of encouragement come back into me, the passion of the Connacht crew and the Interpros environment providing a boost and source of inspiration.
“Another moment was when I then joined in helping out with the Jes secondary school hockey team. A question and a warm smile saying will you be around and join in for more hockey was all it took for me to know that the path of hockey opened up again and my heart was back on the hockey pitch.
“A togetherness and fun was reflective of the ladies in white spirit as strong and encouraging as ever. I have and always will have such fondness for the Jes and school hockey in general. It is a phase of life that gave me such encouragement going forward.
“I feel what helped me so much in times of challenges was to tap into the hockey experience in the Jes, the togetherness, the kindness and the inspiring, fiery feelings. That helped me wake up to the present and see how much alive it still all is. Connecting with the current Jes team was something very pivotal in my own personal recovery.”
Flannery returned to play with Greenfields toward the back end of the inaugural EYHL season and will play with NUIG this season, linking up with Malone once again.
She is still welcoming further submissions for the book until September 10 if people wish to add to, edit or send a message in.
As the book is being published, messages and photos will be only included in the book with permission of the contributor. It’s an open book, anyone welcome to write in connecting with their own experience with the themes outlined on the website.
Proceeds of the book will go towards the development of hockey in Connacht, in the Jes secondary school, alongside costs to cover the printing of the book.
“I’m very grateful to the Irish Hockey Photographers who have contributed high quality hockey photos. Their quality work really reflects and helps cherish hockey moments, how the colour and energy of those moments can always be alive in memory. Many thanks for reading and wishing you and your hockey community all the very best.”