Meet Karen, our Club Champion of the Year
A volunteer and member of the Cairns Hockey Association (CHA) for more than 20 years, Karen Cockrem is the embodiment of a Good Sport and the winner of our 2017 Club Champion award.
Karen was nominated by CHA Coach David McNeil, who says Karen’s selflessness, caring and dedication has made their club a better, healthier and happier place to be for everyone.
“No bells or whistles, no hidden agenda, no self-serving interest — Karen Cockrem cares about people,” he says. “She volunteers her skills, her time and her resources to ensure the people she cares about are happy and cared for in the sporting environment. In my view, there is no-one better.”
The spirit of giving seems to be strong at the CHA, which celebrated its 90th year of hockey in Far North Queensland this year. The club of 1,400 members has a strong sense of social responsibility, broadening its programs to be inclusive to disabled and all-ability players, and offering support to disadvantaged members of the community. Their “Aspire to be Deadly” program, which provides educational and sporting opportunities for Indigenous young women and girls in remote parts of Queensland, is internationally recognised.
In 2009, the CHA joined Good Sports and Karen enthusiastically took up the challenge of making her beloved club a healthy and safe place to be. She established “Kazza’s Kitchen” to show how healthy eating choices can taste great and satisfy a hungry player after a big game. The new menus developed by Karen have been a hit with club members, who have commented that their game has improved as a result of eating so well.
She has also highlighted the importance of hydration, placing signs around the venue to remind members and guests to drink lots of water when participating — or even just watching — sport under the hot Queensland sun. At club events, Karen supervises the bar and has been responsible for implementing policies that redirect the focus away from alcohol and rather on celebrating as a community.
As a small business owner who volunteers a staggering 20 hours of her time per week at the CHA, Karen is a woman of influence in her community and is a mentor and inspiration to many young women and girls. Her positive attitude, respect for everyone — no matter what their circumstances — and infectious enthusiasm for the game of hockey is what truly makes her a Club Champion.
“Karen will never play for Australia. Karen will never play for Cairns,” David laughs. “Her team might have received just three points and each week she turns up as a goalkeeper with a smile on her face. And after the game, after yet another loss, she smiles at her teammates, the opposition and anyone who might be in the vicinity. Being involved is her passion.”