So intense was Jake Staines' focus on ensuring that Goulburn had a full team every week that he was caught completely off-guard by his recent Brophy Medal win.
The Geckos co-coach was taken aback when his name was read out at the virtual awards night on Friday, October 8, when he followed in his brother Ben's footsteps to claim Hockey ACT's most prestigious honour.
"I didn't have it on my radar one bit," Staines said.
"It's always a good thing to come away with, but I definitely wasn't ready for it. I was just happy to be playing hockey.
"[Ben] congratulated me and he knew what it was like when he won it and he was pretty stoked for me, that's the impression I got."
By his own admission, Staines was so consumed by his duties as a member of the coaching staff that focus on his own game had been secondary.
So, even though he doesn't believe 2021 was his best year on-field, Staines feels the Brophy Medal represents recognition of the work he put in off-field in service of the team.
"I think with anything, if you're trying to coach a bunch of guys, your thought process goes into that rather than playing hockey yourself," he said.
"My interest this year was trying to get the team on the paddock, I wasn't really focusing on my own game. I was just making sure we had a team each week and we managed to do that. We got a pretty good bunch of guys together and kept some of the team camaraderie which Goulburn thrives on. I just hope it continues next year."
Despite the initial fear that the Geckos might not be able to field a team in 2021, they exceeded all expectations by finishing fourth on the ladder.
Staines was "pretty happy" with the team's performance, and said that there were several factors which were crucial to the team's success, including the rest of the coaching and support staff.
"We had a good support team around the team like Jono Gann, he enjoyed being around us this year. It helped having him and Scotty Grant, who's always been there, and Kurt Devlin who was injured but put in a big effort," Staines said.
"It was a real group effort this year."
Three other members of the Goulburn District Hockey Association were also recognised on the night.
Makayla Jones and Laura Gray were both named in the Capital League 1 women's team of the season for their performances for the Goulburn women's side, which finished third in the rankings after another strong year.
Meanwhile, young local Niamh Blake was awarded the Sue Watt Trophy, which is presented to the junior female umpire who contributed the most to umpiring throughout the season.
"Congratulations to you on your achievements - you should be extremely proud of your performance and sportsmanship," the GDHA wrote in a Facebook post the day after the ceremony took place.
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