Megan Frazer is the kind of player that you’ll always remember when and where you saw her in action for the first time.
Fast-tracked to the Irish senior national team setup at age 17, her talent has taken her from the University of Maryland to Mannheimer, and has been a driving force behind the development of the Irish hockey squad.
A serious knee injury in late 2016 required three rounds of surgery and rehabilitation to get her back out onto the pitch but she recovered just in time to be selected for Graham Shaw’s Hockey World Cup squad.
The silver medal that she took home from London bears the marks of a playing career that has hit both extreme highs, and heartbreaking lows. But before all of that, there was schools hockey.
Back in 2005, as a 14-year-old in her native Derry, Frazer attended the Ulster Hockey Schools Senior Cup final between Omagh and Royal School Armagh, as a neutral.
Little did she know just how formative those 70 minutes of sports spectating would prove.
“I just remember walking in the gate. I was in complete awe of the whole situation. The amount of people there, whole schools out to support their teams, and the crowd singing and chanting at each other – such a rivalry on show.”
The match itself lived up to expectation and the standout player that enthralled the watching Frazer was her future international team-mate, Ireland’s most capped player Shirley McCay.
However, it was the aftermath of the match that proved a defining moment for Megan Frazer.
“When the captain lifted the cup at the end of the match her team went crazy and all the supporters were so elated… I was just absolutely buzzing from it.
“Even seeing the pictures in the newspaper the next day, too – all of it. From then on, I just wanted my chance to be on the other side of that fence, and have that experience.”
Four years later, Frazer had the opportunity to make that dream a reality. She captained her squad all the way to the 2009 Ulster Hockey Schools Senior Cup final, which saw her own Foyle and Londonderry College take on Ballymena Academy.
The decider was a tight affair, with the opposition doing their best to lock the prodigious Frazer out of the match using a double-marking tactic but she eventually found a way through, scoring the only goal of the game, and ending a 27 year wait for the silverware to return to her school’s trophy cabinet.
“Four years on from that moment, that match I went to, I lifted that same cup, in front of my school, in front of my team-mates, and my family. Honestly, it was such a rush – and that’s what I go after now, every time I step on the hockey pitch.”