Name: Katie Hetherington

Sport: Rugby

How did you become involved in your sport?

My family are very rugby orientated so I have always had an interest in the sport. However, at the age of 13 or14 a few of the local girls started up an Under-15s tag team at Clogher Valley with help from the club and I have been playing ever since, both tag and contact.

What is it that you love about your sport?

I love the physicality of the sport and how there is a position for every type of player. One of the main things I love about the sport are the bonds and relationships that you make over the years with players all over the country through matches and camps for different teams; it is a real team sport.

What are your earliest sporting memories?

My earliest sporting memories are probably playing mini rugby at Clogher Valley when I was in primary school. I remember this because there were only two or three girls playing against the boys which made it a lot more competitive.

Who was, or is, your biggest influence?

My biggest influences were probably my school coaches, Aly and Terry Finlay. They coached me for five years both at school and for Ulster 7s, developing me as a player and teaching me not to lose my head every five minutes on the pitch. They had huge confidence and belief in me as I was growing as a player which motivated me to give my best and to take every opportunity I came across in rugby.

Who do you look up to in your chosen sport?

Eimear Considine is definitely my sporting idol. Eimear plays for Ireland Women and has played for Irish Sevens as well. I really look up to her dedication to the sport and her determination to continue to improve her skill even though in my opinion she is one of the team’s best players. Also, playing against her both at club level and provincial level, she plays for her team and does not show off in anyway just because she is an international.

Could you give us an example of what a typical week involves for yourself?

I currently attend University in Belfast three days a week as well as working part time at home. In terms of sports, I train twice a week for my club team Cooke in Belfast which involves pitch work and skills. I aim to fit in two gym sessions on the days that I do not have rugby training in order to build strength and tone my muscles. The weekend then involves a match which could be anywhere in Ireland as Cooke are an AIL team. Finally, I play netball in Fivemiletown High School once a week which I use as a break from rugby as it can get very intense especially when Ulster training begins.

What do you think are the key to being successful in sport?

I think being determined and focused on your goal are key to being successful because there are a lot of talented players in every sport but only those who are willing to put in the hard work and continue to work on their skills and fitness will get where they want to be.

What have been your biggest successes to date?

My biggest successes to date are probably getting my U18 Ireland Sevens cap in the Home Nations and my Ulster Senior Women caps.

What are your goals for the future?

My goals for the future are to continue being involved in the Ulster Senior set-up and building as a player. I aim to improve both my strength and conditioning as a player but also the aspects of my game that separates me from other players.

What bit of advice would you offer to anybody starting out in your chosen sport?

To get involved in as much as possible whether it is team gym sessions or even just getting together to kick about a ball, and not to quit because rugby can open up so many opportunities for a player and the sport has given me so many experiences that I will not forget.