The Top of the D Meets: Emily Maguire.

With almost 100 international caps to her name and a series of eye-catching displays in the Champions Trophy, Emily Maguire has made a starting berth in the Great Britain line up her own. The Reading and Scotland defender is composed defensively and a threat going forwards. She might not be mentioned in the same breath as Alex Danson or Helen Richardson, but Maguire is a key component in the side’s quest for gold. The Top of the D caught up with her recently to talk hockey, Olympics, maths and beauty tips.

The Top of the D: How hard did you find it keeping your selection quiet for a week before it was announced publicly? Did you tell anyone?

Emily Maguire: I only told my close family and what I call my support network. They were all there when I found out. It was quite hard to keep it quiet because you just want to get it out there and be excited. It’s quite a relief too. Then when it was officially announced you almost have that renewed buzz and excitement. You’ve had the first wave and then you’ve calmed down a bit and then it all happens again!

TTOTD: I noticed in the week leading up to the official announcement a lot of you went very quiet on Twitter. Was that something you were told to do, or a coincidence?

EM: No not at all. The week leading up to the official announcement we were back training as the squad after a break so I think everyone was just too busy to be honest! People are too tired for those sorts of things, especially the first couple of days back!

TTOTD: Does being one of the few non-English players in the squad give you an extra sense of pride, or do you not see it that way?

Emily Maguire: To be honest we don’t really think about things like that anymore. We’ve been training as Great Britain for so long now it’s almost second nature to be referred to as British. I love being part of the Great Britain set up because it’s such a unique thing. I love being Scottish as well. If you look at other countries in the world, they find it difficult to understand our little nuances and the British/home nations thing, but I think it’s brilliant, the chance to be part of two nationalities and two identities I really enjoy it.

TTOTD: Obviously there are a number of your club teammates in the squad. Do you think that will give you an advantage?

EM: You do form close bonds with people, and certainly playing with them a little bit more does help, but in all honesty, we train as a squad every day so I don’t know if it will make a noticeable difference.

TTOTD: Talking of Reading, you’ve all missed a fair amount of domestic hockey this season. How hard have you found switching between the two?

EM: I think, to be fair, I’ve actually played most games this season for Reading. I think I missed one or two at the start and then maybe one in the second half of the season. I love playing for Reading and it has killed me at some points that I can’t be a little bit more involved in the club but the girls are fantastic, they totally understand what the situation is and they are totally behind us. It’s brilliant that we’ve got such strength in depth in the team which is a real credit to Simon [Letchford], our coach who has been able to hold together the team under really trying circumstances.

TTOTD: What do you miss most about club hockey?

EM: I love being part of a club and the whole club experience. The social side, going to all the training sessions, playing the game and then staying afterwards and being really involved, there’s nothing like it. I’ve been so busy this year, I couldn’t commit fully. I’ll look forward to experiencing it more next year.

TTOTD: How hard will it be to go back to real life after the games are over? What will you be doing with yourself?

EM: That’s the million dollar question! It obviously depends on how well we do and what media requirements there are so you don’t really know, it is difficult to plan the time. It’s also quite exciting; I’m giving myself a month or two without any plans. I have some loose thoughts of holidays and a bit of down time, but of course I’ll be going back to play at Reading, before I get too bored!

TTOTD: Which players should we look out for at the Olympics?

EM: Alex Danson. Whenever she has the ball I think it’s really exciting. In Argentina, whenever Luciana Aymar was on the ball you could feel the crowd really lifting. I think it’ll be the same with Alex in front of the crowd in London. When she does one of her mazy runs it’ll be great for the fans to see her and get behind her. It’ll be great for us, too, feeling that buzz caused by one of our players.

Obviously as I’ve mentioned, Aymar is the best player in the world, but you know what? It’s brilliant. I love playing against these players! To be able to test yourself against the best players and the best teams it’s what it’s all about. It’s why we play.

TTOTD: What would you say is your biggest asset as a player?

EM: I think it’s probably my hit and my distribution out of the back. There’s nothing I like more than taking the ball forward and trying to find those channels to play a pass. You know when you connect and you get the ball all the way through from back to front with one pass? I think that’s a great feeling!

TTOTD: What would you say the team’s biggest asset is?

EM: Our relentlessness and our team spirit. I’m so proud of the team, and I know we will never give up. It doesn’t matter what the score line is, it doesn’t matter what the conditions are, or who the opposition are, I just know all of those girls will run themselves into the ground and give anything for us to win. And they know that I would do the same. I love that and I think it’s our biggest strength.

TTOTD: What is your biggest ambition outside hockey?

EM: It’s difficult right now because I’m so focused on hockey. I’d love to be involved in the financial world in the future. I’d love to live and work in London and experience a completely different life away from the sport, a change of scenery.

TTOTD: You’re a self-confessed maths geek, aren’t you? So it’d be a good way to put your love of maths to the test?

EM: <laughs> Yes! I am a maths geek, definitely! I studied maths at university and it’s always seemed a natural progression to go into finance through that.

TTOTD: Beth Storry is renowned as an excellent baker, what is your little known talent?

EM: Oh goodness! Well, I would say the maths, but given I’ve posted it on Twitter it’s not very well hidden. Erm, I’m a bit of a pro on the Xbox. I’m a master at Halo!

TTOTD: How would you like to be remembered when you retire?

EM: As a solid defender. I’d like to be known as someone who was never flustered, always reliable and didn’t have too many frills, as someone who always got the job done when it was needed.

TTOTD: Finally, when I watched the end of season play-off final, a group of girls behind me in the crowd were fascinated by how immaculate and shiny your hair was. What is your secret?

EM: Really?! Wow! I’m not too sure I have one to be honest! I try not to wash my hair every day, because it makes it a little bit greasy so that’s not the best.  I always straighten it before a big game; I think it looks a bit better, although it usually ends up all over the place by the end of a game.

TTOTD: So, no special product or anything?

EM: No! I’m afraid not! That’s a brilliant question though! It’s made my day!

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen. At that point, Emily Maguire went off to join the rest of the squad for training, her hair shimmering in the London sunshine. Who says The Top of the D doesn’t cover the important issues? I await my Pulitzer with great anticipation.

The Top of the D would like to thank Emily Maguire for her time and good humour throughout this interview. I would also like to wish her and the rest of the squad the best of luck in the London Olympics. 

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