December 3, 2021, by brzbs1
Scholar in Focus: Nike Lorenz
Our latest sit down discussion with one of our outstanding sport scholars saw us talking hockey with an Olympic Bronze medal winner, Nike Lorenz. Nike (Nee-Ka) is a current German international as well as a pivotal part of the #GreenandGold. We spoke with her about her path to performing at the very highest level, as well as how she has adapted to life at the University of Nottingham this year, managing to balance her studies with her high-performance training regimen. It was a pleasure to speak with Nike in what was a highly insightful interview.
Thank you for your time Nike, it’d be great if you could give us a brief introduction about your past experience and life before becoming a sport scholar with us.
Sure! My name’s Nike and I am 24 years old. I think I’ve played hockey since I was three, so I’ve been playing for a while now! I played for two or three different clubs growing up in Germany and I ended up winning a couple of German youth championships. I went on to study and play whilst doing my undergraduate degree at the University of Mannheim. My undergraduate degree was in German Literature and Linguistics, and I started studying for this after competing at my first Olympic games in 2016. Winning the bronze medal at those games is my biggest accomplishment so far, but I’ve also won gold at the Indoor World Championships (2018) and silver at the Europeans (2019, 2021). When I finished my undergraduate degree in Germany I actually worked for a couple of years at a book publishers and did some consulting, but because my undergraduate degree was based a lot around business, I decided to study a Masters degree in the business school here at the University of Nottingham.
That’s a very impressive CV so far! You say you started playing hockey at a young age in Germany, what was it that made you want to play?
I grew up in a hockey family so my brother who is six years older than me played, and whenever he had practice I basically just tagged along! My family is such a strong hockey family so I was given a hockey stick as soon as I could walk so I just grew into it. Since then, obviously hockey has been a big part of my life and it’s something I really enjoy.
You’ve obviously enjoyed a successful career before coming over to the University of Nottingham, what was it that made you decide to study and play here?
I always knew that I wanted to study my Masters abroad. I had already done a semester in the US so because I still wanted to study in a new country and that lead me to look at options in the UK, which ended up being really coincidental. I have a friend who I caught up with whilst assessing my options so I asked her what she had decided to do and she told me that she’d been in Nottingham! As soon as she told me more and I researched more about Nottingham, I didn’t really look at any other universities because this one seemed like a really good fit for me from the start. I was obviously told really good things about the experience here, but when I looked at the courses I could really identify with a lot of them too so I spoke to the hockey coach, Matt Taylor. He was really nice and it all just came together.
Having played hockey for many years, how would you describe your game? Have you always played one position or do you now have a role that you’ve grown into and excel at?
I’ve played every single position on the pitch across many different ages! I would say that independent of the position that I am asked to play, I get into games through my defensive work where I can then be quick going forward in the transitional phase of play. I’d say that I have quite an aggressive game as I like to transition from one phase to the other quickly. The longest time in my career that I played in one position was at full back in defence, which I enjoyed at the time, but now I really enjoy going forward a bit more in midfield which is what I did more of when I started playing hockey. It enables you to get more shots on goal as well as distributing the ball. I get to do a bit of everything now!
How was the experience of going to multiple Olympics, representing your country and winning a bronze medal?
Well the two Olympics (Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020) were so different, it’s hard to describe them as the same type of tournament. At Rio I was really, really young and inexperienced, which meant I basically just went out there and played without thinking too much. No-one really expected us to achieve what we did in 2016 as we were ranked ninth in the world at the time, so to be as successful as we were and get home with a medal was definitely one of the best experiences of my life so far! In comparison, Tokyo was completely different as it was obviously affected by the pandemic which meant I wasn’t able to have my family at the games. However, I was a much more experienced player in Tokyo than I was in Rio and I was now the captain so my role in the team changed. This also meant that I felt a little bit more of the pressure and because of our previous success, people expected more from us at the tournament. We had high expectations for ourselves too and ended up disappointed, but that’s sport at the end of the day.
With all of your past success and experience, how have you been able to bring that knowledge to the university and pass it on to others in the team?
Firstly, I hope that I can be a great source of knowledge for the rest of the girls. In terms of Hockey, I think I can help my teammates because I’m a very technical player and I like to think about the game a lot. I don’t just go along with the game, I read and analyse what’s going on so I try to explain how I think we can handle certain situations, as well as always trying to be a good friend and teammate. I’ve experienced a lot in hockey, there’s always things going on and tough phases that players bring to the pitch, so I try to help us work together to get through those and the team has given me a lot in this aspect too.
It sounds like there is a great spirit amongst the team and club, how have they helped you adapt to life and hockey here in Nottingham?
They have helped me 100% because post-Olympics when things don’t go as you hoped, it’s always a tough place to be in. I was happy that I’d made the decision to move abroad, but I’ve absolutely been caught by surprise over here. Everyone’s been so nice to me and I have had a little bit more fun playing hockey here as I now get a sense of the joy of hockey that I had when I first started playing. The coach, staff and the team have been a really big part of that.
You’ve obviously trained and competed at a very high level for a while now, how have you found balancing studies with sport – is it similar to what you’ve experienced in the past?
Well I’m kind of used to the balancing act now, but it’s not too extreme here and I’m enjoying it. Even though I’ve been playing for the national team, I always aim to be doing something aside from hockey as I knew it wouldn’t satisfy me just playing hockey. I really like the structure of the week here at the university as it’s fun having games on a Wednesday and then some on a weekend because it’s not like anything I’ve had in the last couple of years. University work has been challenging but hockey is fun so the balance is perfect.
How has the season gone for you and the team so far?
I think we’ve been pretty successful. We’ve only lost one game and tied once, but it’s been a lot of games and I sense that everyone is content with how we’ve been playing. I think that we have definitely developed over time because I arrived here late (end of September) so I missed quite a bit of the pre-season and there was only ten days before our first game, but we got along really well and have been developing every game. On some occasions we have been challenged a little bit more but I would say that most of the time we are our biggest opponent. I’m looking forward to the second part of the season that’s coming up as I think the games will only become more challenging.
Hopefully the rest of the season is successful for yourself and the team, what are your plans after you finish here at the University of Nottingham?
Well I haven’t really decided yet, but there is a World Cup coming up next summer. My studies will finish in September and I am focussed on our BUCS season first, but after that hopefully travelling to the World Cup and going back to Germany.
Wherever you do go next, what would you say to people who ask about your experience here at the University of Nottingham?
So I’ve already been to the United States where college/university sports is massive, and I obviously went through the same system in Germany where there isn’t any varsity sports, so I feel like I’ve been through two extremes. I would say that my time in the UK and in Nottingham has been the perfect balance of the two. The university allows you a professional atmosphere where we train a lot and the university identifies with sport, but you’re also able to live a great life with your friends. Academically I’m also really, really happy with the place I’m in, so I would definitely recommend the University of Nottingham to others.
With the Rainbow Laces campaign in full swing, it is worth noting that Nike has been a key advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, by leading a call for the IOC to relax rules that would prohibit her and other athletes from wearing rainbow colours at the 2020 Olympics. Pleasingly, the rule was relaxed and Nike continued to wear her was able to continue her longstanding support of the movement. You can read more about this in a piece by England Hockey here.
We thank Nike for her time and we wish her and the team the best of luck for the rest of the season. We also look forward to following Nike’s journey to the World Cup in 2022 and her career beyond that.
As well as a reputation for academic excellence, we have a history of sporting success and are passionate about supporting promising athletes during their time at the University of Nottingham. To find out more about our Sports Scholarships, please click here.
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