Role Model- Shirley McCay MBE

Role Model- Shirley McCay MBE

Shirley McCay MBE

Pegasus Hockey

Shirley McCay does a little bit of everything when it comes to the sport of Hockey. She is a coach, and an athlete and works as a talent manager for Ulster Hockey. She has been a force to be reckoned with as the most capped athlete in Ireland with 316 caps since her debut in 2007.

Shirley started playing hockey at the age of 12-13 in secondary school because of a PE teacher who loved the sport and encouraged her students to play. She talked about how she loved the skill involved in the sport along with the team aspect that allowed her to make friendships. While Shirley’s hometown in Omagh wasn’t the mecca for hockey it is where she got her start. While in school, she played on the Omagh Academy Team winning the Ulster Senior Schoolgirls’ Cup and Kate Russell All-Ireland Schoolgirl Championships in 2005. With her first international cap in 2007, Shirley started creating a long list of accolades.

Looking back on her long tenure in hockey, the moment of one of her proudest achievements was playing in the Olympics and being able to call herself an Olympian. When asked about setbacks in sports, Shirley commented that it took three times to qualify for the Olympics- making the appearance at the Tokyo Olympic games such a great final international appearance for Shirley’s career!

Those setbacks of not qualifying made the team become stronger as they learned to push through loss. Skills like that create a great team and make a lasting impact. It was the games after losing in sudden death to China in 2016, that the team worked together to support each other. “The beauty of team sports is that you’re all feeling the same way and your emotions are the same. It is friendship and your teammates that helped. We helped each other.” That is how you work through challenges by relying on your team.

Shirley is such an inspiring role model and when asked what she takes away from being involved in sports she talked about social interactions, the positive effects on her mental health and her ability to create lifelong friendships with her team. It was a team member when she first made it to the National Team she looked up.  The captain at the time, Linda Caufield, was someone that Shirley looked up to, it is those older members of the team that when you join always are such motivators. Those peer role models are who push you when playing. What makes sports enjoyable is having relationships with people on and off the field.

The advice she gives to younger players is “there’s that saying, like talent will get you in the room but hard work will keep you there. [It’s] definitely a big thing for me. I’d be a big advocate of that work ethic and doing the small things to get you where you want to be. I’d also say that it’s important to enjoy what you do. So, if you’re in a sport or you’re in an environment where you’re enjoying and having fun, then that’s where you’ll be at your best.”

As Shirley has moved into a role as a Coach, she loves that she is able to help develop younger players. Along with finding a career that allows her to stay involved in the sport that has been such a huge part of her life. The Female Sports Forum is excited to share Shirley as a Role Model! If you have an interest in getting involved check out Ulster Hockey’s Website.