Sister act ready to carry Queen’s Baton

When Bernadette Gotting hands the Queen’s Baton to sister Pauline Alchin on Thursday it will not be the first time the pair have worked hand in hand.

They have been the backbone of Thistles Ladies Hockey Club for about three decades, Pauline as club president and Bernadette as treasurer.

Together, they have devoted countless hours to keeping the club going, mentoring junior players and umpires, coaching teams and participating in the game they love.

Their efforts will be recognised when the Queen’s Baton Relay visits Ipswich on Thursday and Bernadette said it would be a special occasion.

“It’s a real double whammy. It’s an honour just to be selected to carry it but for both of us to be selected and for me to be able to hand it onto Pauline is something we could not have imagined,” she said.

As president, Pauline spends much of her time working behind the scenes to keep the club on track.

She still takes to the field each weekend too but said her greatest joy was watching young people progress through the club.

“I love teaching kids the right skills. A lot of kids aren’t taught the right skills but if you make sure they start off on the right foot they can go on to anything,” she said.

Bernadette put the stick away two years ago but still plays a heavy role as an umpire. She is development coordinator for Ipswich Hockey Association as well as an Australian level 3 umpire coach and level 2 technical operator.

She has been selected to help run the tech bench, which among other things operates the scoreboard and game clock, at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Much like her sister Pauline, Bernadette said her greatest reward was mentoring young people.

“Seeing the progression, taking them from the grass roots umpiring of junior games to seeing them umpire state championships; there is a lot of depth in umpiring in the Ipswich association,” she said.

Although they are all business when in club mode, the two sisters were both visibly moved when asked how they felt about fellow club members nominating them for the relay.

“It’s very nice to be recognised for the work we have done over many years,” Pauline said.

“It can be a struggle at times to keep the momentum going, it’s important to have younger players coming through because they are the future of any club. If you don’t have younger players coming through the club can fall away quite quickly.

“Our big goal is to get back to having an A grade side. I think we are about two years away from maybe having the junior players come through who are ready to play at that level.”

The Queen’s Baton Relay will starts at Hunter Street, Brassall about 2.30pm and will make its way through the CBD to a community celebration at Limestone Park, where it will arrive about 5.30pm.

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