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Cardiff Character: Lydia Hitchings

Celtic Dragons’ newest signing talks about her journey so far, where next and how to balance sport, university, work and life.

Lydia Hitchings squad announcement photo. Credit: Cardiff Dragons Netball

A normal day for 21-year-old Lydia Hitchings begins with court training, as early as 6am, followed by university, where she studies textile and design, then more training. Despite her busy morning, she enters the room with a warm smile and swinging blonde ponytail, giving the impression she welcomes today’s extra commitment.

“I just really trained and did it for enjoyment and because it was a hobby and habit as well, you make it a part of your life.” – Lydia Hitchings

Just announced as Celtic Dragon’s newest goal shooter in the Super Netball League, as well as recently signing for Bath Toucans and the Wales Senior squad, it’s unlikely her schedule will unpack anytime soon.

Lydia was introduced to the sport in year 7 and a few years later, a 15-year-old Lydia began seeking out after-school clubs to join.

Lydia warming up her shooting skills ahead of the afternoon’s game

“I just really trained and did it for enjoyment and because it was a hobby and habit as well, you make it a part of your life,” she explains. It was there that her passion and talent in the sport began growing.

Taking part in ‘inter-clubs’ and ‘inter-counties’ allowed her to showcase her skills and she credits this for securing her position in the Welsh netball system.  

Balancing it all
Lydia admits that she never set out to make a career out of netball, but 2016, after taking part in Under 21s Netball Europe, the Celtic Dragons coach approached her with an offer to join the squad.

This was her first paid position and insight into the life of a semi-professional athlete. It enabled her to train with women who had years of experience in the professional world. “It was a pleasure in itself to be on court with them,” she says. “I’ve learnt a lot from them and I’m keen to keep going.”

Lydia starts and ends most days with netball training, but today was the exception, she was ending with playing a game instead.

Cardiff Met vs. Cardiff Uni 31/10/18

Scoring around the UK
With the announcement of her recent signing with Celtic Dragons 18/19 seniors, Lydia now plays for five teams. All at different levels, she also competes with: Cardiff based CTK, Cardiff Metropolitan University’s 1st team, Bath Toucans and Wales. Switching between the teams and their leagues is a challenge and Lydia stresses the importance of knowing her team.

“I’d love to push it as long as I can with netball, as long as my body will take me” – Lydia Hitchings

With so much to balance, Lydia modestly explains, “It’s definitely a juggle. But everyone’s juggling things anyway.” To manage, she talks about prioritising each activity, whether it be university, training or work, and focusing on that alone. She also sets aside time for friends and family, who keep her sane.

Lydia’s Cardiff Metropolitan 1st team coach prepping the team before their match

Looking forward
Lydia understands more than most the strain sport puts on the body. She touches wood and her brilliant smile falters as she recalls how she tore her ACL in a training session causing her to miss out on the Commonwealth Games and the World Youth Cup hosted in Botswana.

In addition, her brother has recently retired from a rugby career following a series of concussions.

She notes that, although rehab and training alone every day was difficult, being back playing is worth the reward and allows her to appreciate what she now has.

Lydia says, “I’d love to push it as long as I can with netball, as long as my body will take me. I just think do it while you’re young, the jobs can wait until you’re older.”

Top of Lydia’s list now is to get her cap for the Wales senior team. Following that, she can look forward to tournaments such as the Netball Europe 2019 in Isle of Man and Commonwealth Games in 2022 in England, “I’m just going to keep playing my best and who knows!” 

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