Rewarded for saving the club

Taieri hockey club stalwart Dean Williamson (31) at the McMillan hockey turf yesterday after...
Taieri hockey club stalwart Dean Williamson (31) at the McMillan hockey turf yesterday after being presented with the ‘‘thank a sport maker’’ award earlier in the week. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Dean Williamson is one of those people every club needs — and then more.

The 31-year-old was surprised to be presented with a "thank a sport maker" award on Wednesday night at the McMillan Hockey Centre.

One of 10 winners from around the country, Williamson is a do-everything type of person and has been the president of the Taieri Hockey Club for the past five or six years.

He also coaches several teams every year, organises social events and fits in playing around that.

In that time the Taieri club has gone from the dire position of having only one and a-half teams on both the men’s and women’s competitions  to having 10 teams all up.

Williamson  was quick to point out that he had several others helping him, although he admits it was good to see how the club has grown.

"When you’re helping people out you get to see them achieve along the way," the furniture finisher said.

"And then they’re passing the knowledge you pass on to them back in.

"Everyone becomes friends within the club, so it doesn’t matter if you’re in the top grade or the bottom grade, all the guys from our club know each other and get along.

"Once it tees off it’s like a snowball effect, it just gets easier.

"The first few years were definitely hard. We were a club no-one wanted to be a part of — it was pretty much on its way out the door.

"We were given one last chance to make something happen and now we’re one of the more desirable clubs to play for."

Finding the "right" people, rather than the "best" ones had been key to that.

It was not a case of stacking the club with stars who were going to win titles, but people who  wanted to be involved and play for each other.That had created a good vibe within the club, which meant

players in the lower teams were valued just as much as those in the top teams.

He had also started two junior teams after his son, Kaden, did not have enough players at his school to form a team.

Having reached out and  discovered there were other schools in the same situation, he was able to create teams for the pupils at those schools.He said he coached his son’s team and also played with the same group of kids over summer.

Next year he hoped to establish an intermediate team, as many of those players moved into the older age-group.

Williamson began with the sport as a player, although originally he took a few years off after leaving King’s High School.

Then he was dragged along to fill in for his flatmate’s team at Taieri as a 21-year-old and has been with the club ever since.

This year he represented Otago in the senior men’s team, although he  played in a lower-grade Taieri team in order to focus on his goal of including those players.

The club had started  sharing clubrooms with the Opoho Bowling Club this year and getting more people along after games was now a focus.

Alongside that he was hoping the club could continue on the way it has been tracking.

"It’s always going to be strong.

"I think I know we’ll have succeeded when we’ve got those guys moving up the grades moving back down the grades.

"That’s when know we’ve got actual true club members."

For his efforts he was presented with a $1000 voucher for Lotto sportswear equipment and clothing on Wednesday night, beating  over 600 other contenders.

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