ST Andrew High’s hockey star Cristina Carlene Edwards has set her sights on representing Jamaica at the Pan American Championships.

“My goal is to become the top female hockey player in Jamaica so that I can make the Under-21 national team and get the chance to represent Jamaica at the Pan American Championships in Mexico and to take home the gold medal,” Edwards told the Jamaica Observer at the end of the high school championship game recently.

“I really want to work hard in hockey because I dreamed about one day playing for a club overseas, maybe in Argentina,” she said.

The 17-year-old Edwards, who also plays for St Andrew’s New Era in the club league, knows very well that success will only come with hard work.

“But in order for me to reach that far I have to train and work very hard and I am committed to doing that right now. I just want to stay healthy and injury-free and then I know I will do very well,” she added.

Edwards, who is in sixth form at St Andrew High, said that training is not easy due to her studies, but she enjoys it a lot, nonetheless.

“I am currently doing biology, history, information technology and communications studies in the Caribbean Advance Proficiency Examination (CAPE) , and so it has been quite difficult blending my schoolwork and my hockey training and playing time. To put it simply, it is not easy, as I have to leave class at 2:30 pm each day to reach training at 3:30 pm.

“It is hectic, time-consuming, stressful and at times I feel like giving up, but I enjoy training a lot. I do fitness and foot works before I do techniques, which I love very much. I do tackles, flicking the ball, passing, defending, attacking and movements around the field,” she added.

She also revealed that hockey is dangerous, but noted that her love for the sport is what keeps her going.

“I play left-forward and sometimes midfield and I can tell you, hockey is a very dangerous sport. Hockey is the reason I have a gap in my teeth. During my first year in club league I got hit in my mouth with the stick and had to be taken to the hospital for a minor surgery. I got two stitches on my top lip and had braces to hold my top row of teeth together as one of my teeth was shaking due to the hit.

“But I didn’t quit, I guess I love the sport too much to stop. The dedication and the determination is what keeps me going,” she explained.

Edwards, who captained her school to the 2013 ISSA/Jamaica Hockey Federation Under-16 girls’ title, shared that she started playing the sport from an early age.

“One day at school I saw some girls playing. I was so curious because I wasn’t exposed to that sport before, and so I convinced my friends that we join the team. I was 12 at that time,” she remembered with a smile on her face.

“Most of my friends stopped playing, but I developed a liking for the sport, and ever since that first day with Michelle Holt I have continued to play, and the rest is history.”

The St Andrew High star athlete, who has passes in eight CXC subjects — biology, physics, mathematics, history, information technology, religious education, English language and English literature — said while it can be difficult to juggle academics and the sport, she has no immediate plans to quit either of them.

“I aspire to become either an officer in the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) or a forensic photographer… something to do with crime scenes or physical, but even then I still will find some time to play hockey,” she said

The soft-spoken Edwards, who also plays netball and was a part of her school’s team that took silver at the recently concluded ISSA/Jamaica Hockey Federation high school Under-19 girls’ championship, mentioned that the key to her success thus far is the love, care and understanding of her parents and coach.

“My parents really helped me a lot… My dad Christopher Edwards, who passed away last year, and mom Carlene Hepburn-Edwards, play a big part in my achievements, as they encourage me a lot and they always come to my games to support me.

“My coach Michelle Holt also gives me support, guidance and encouragement.”