Renee Taylor’s hockey journey first began at the age of 4 in Melbourne at Waverly Hockey Club. Renee then moved back to Brisbane where she would play all her juniors with what she would call her “home club”, Commercial HC, in Brisbane. Here, hockey was undoubtedly always going to be a big part of her life. “Mum and Dad actually met at Commercial HC” explained Renee, “We spent every weekend at hockey so while we had a choice on whether we wanted to play or not, we were always going to be there.” Coming from a strong hockey background, with her father playing a handful of games for New Zealand and her mother playing Div 1, a promising future in hockey would seem inevitable for Renee; however it didn't start out that way. Renee wouldn’t make a state appearance for Queensland until u18s in July of 2013. But from there it all seemed to fall into place.
“I was extremely lucky in the sense that things seemed to line up at the right time for me.” Within 18 months of that first Queensland appearance at u18 level Renee had then debuted for the Hockeyroos. From there Renee’s game only continued to grow, “it allowed my progression to continue and be pushed by the caliber of players I had around me. It also meant that I didn’t quite have time to think about how quick my progression was, I just had another challenge and opportunity ahead of me”.
For the young fans out there; while it may seem that this just happened overnight for Renee, this wasn’t the case and in fact started years earlier when a choice was made but more importantly there was dedication to follow through and do what it took to achieve it. Despite being told by a few that she wouldn't make it, at 16 years old Renee made the decision that she wanted to play for Australia. “I started to really focus on hockey and started to put in extra work outside club/school/representative training”. Renee also explains how it was a friend and coach of hers, Kristin, that would come to her house at 5:30am, 3 times a week to run and prepare for her first u18s selection. It was the diligence to do whatever it took, that meant Renee’s aspirations would eventually come to fruition.
Debuting in Sydney against China, Renee pulled off quite an impressive feat by representing the country before representing her state at Senior level. “I don’t remember much about the actual game or how I played, but I remember feeling immensely proud and that I had finally achieved my goal of playing for Australia” says Renee. Unfortunately this pride wouldn’t quite go to the next level in 2016, when Renee was selected only in the squad for Rio so didn’t get to. But at such a young age the Olympics were still very much in reach. Renee tells us how “it really drove me to not want to miss out again”, and surely enough come 2021, Renee’s next goal would be achieved. “The Olympics was something I wanted to be a part of since I watched the Kookaburras win Gold in Athens in 2004. It was always a dream to make the Olympics as it is the pinnacle of hockey”.
With a week left until the opening ceremony that day has nearly come for Renee. When asked what she was most looking forward to about the Olympics, Renee answered “I’m looking forward to it finally happening and being able to walk out there with the girls and test ourselves against some of the best teams in the world”. But of course the ultimate goal for Renee is of course coming home with a Gold medal. “while it was exciting to be selected, it was a box that needed to be ticked before I got to the main dream of playing on that last day in Tokyo and competing for the Gold Medal”.
So we wish Renee and the rest of the Hockeyroos all the best in Tokyo and we will be cheering her on for Gold along with the rest of the nation.