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Sports Scholarship winner Sarah Hutchinson on ice rink, wearing her hockey kit, and holding a puck.Rising ice hockey star Sarah Hutchinson has been selected to play for Great Britain and has Edge Hill University to thank for helping her to achieve her ambitions.

It is because Sarah is an enthusiastic and valuable role model with an appetite to push herself hard in such a male-dominated sport that she has become the recipient of a scholarship celebrating excellence in sport.

The 20-year-old from Audenshaw in Manchester will use the funding from this scholarship towards her trip to Trentino, Italy in December to play in the GB Women’s University Team for the 2013 Winter Universiade.

“The whole experience is going to be amazing,” gushed Sarah, who is on the BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Psychology course. “I’ll be proud to be there wearing the GB kit and representing my country. In some ways it is the closest thing I’ll get to the Olympics. To play against teams like Canada and the USA will be an honour in itself. I’m in awe of most of their players so it will be great to mix with such talented sportspeople.”

As Sarah is one of only two women in the north-west to be part of a men’s hockey team, she is no stranger to tough competition.

“I really wanted to perform at a higher level and needed a new challenge, which is why I wanted to be a part of a men’s team,” explained Sarah. “When they accepted me I was thrilled. It’s so scary playing against men, they just throw themselves into it and the game is set at a much faster pace. It’s a lot different to playing against women and I have to use a variety of techniques. I also have to remember that I’m not allowed to hit the other players because it’s a non-contact sport for the women’s games. It makes me work a lot harder but I love it. It’s just funny when men skate past me and comment on my make-up or perfume to try to put me off.”

Describing herself as ‘awful’ when she began playing at the age of four, her determination and perseverance has paid off. She now plays for Kingston Diamonds in the Women’s Premier League and the British National Ice Hockey league, which is the men’s highest amateur level. Sarah has also represented England and Great Britain in both national and international tournaments.

She said:

“In this game you have to keep going and remember why you’re playing. I’ve loved the game from an early age but it’s taken me a lot of work to get to where I am today. Passion and drive are key if you want to succeed.

“I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, friends and Edge Hill University, they have all been so encouraging. Winning this scholarship has helped me out financially and has enabled me to achieve my dreams of competing for Great Britain.”

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