Zoey Bonventi is part of a strong hockey development program at Bellingen, one of the most successful clubs of the last decade.
Zoey Bonventi is part of a strong hockey development program at Bellingen, one of the most successful clubs of the last decade.

Bellingen?s hockey dynasty

STORY: GREG WHITE

THE women playing A grade hockey for Bellingen have virtually taken ownership of the sport in the past decade.

When Bello Angels won the most recent premiership, the team name had changed but many of the faces hadn't.

Jill Williams has been part of the organisation for more years than she cares to admit but has never grown tired of the winning feeling.

Or the heritage that continues to be passed from mother to child.

"In the Bello Angels side that won the last comp we had three daughters play alongside their mums," Jill admitted proudly.

"Not many clubs have that sort of record."

Finding out exact records for the club is no easy task but a few things stand out.

Bellingen did win five straight titles at the end of last century.

One season, the women were without a coach so they took over the job themselves and by consensus planning, ended up winning the premiership.

Then, there was the famous Dickie's Angels period when the girls were almost invincible.

The club once had a 58 game winning streak over three and a half years that came to an end in freakish circumstances.

"Unfortunately we tempted fate," Jill Williams said.

"Somebody suggested we find if this was a record and before we could have it confirmed, next game we lost."

In 2004, the club split into two teams and one made the grand final, only to crash at the hands of their nemesis, the North Tigers.

Of the current squad, four are recent graduates from the juniors while Tara Woodward remains eligible for the age competition.

"It can vary but never less than six or seven graduate each year from under 16's," Williams said.

"In coming years it will get stronger.

"Our junior development program is vital and next season will be strengthened with the return of a minkey hockey team to the valley."

One of those junior graduates was unmissable when the Bello Angels blazed their way to the 2005 title.

Zoey Bonventi, member of a famous Bellingen sporting family was a speeding blur of blonde hair as she charged her way around the court.

One of three girls playing alongside their mothers, Zoey sees mum Vicki as an inspiration.

"I only took up the game because I wanted to be like her," Zoey said.

She's played the game for seven years while dabbling in softball and school rugby.

But it's her speed that makes her stand out.

"Doing athletics helps but I don't do any specific sprint training for hockey," she said.

"Mainly it's a case of going hard at the opposition that I enjoy so much."

A district Under 18 representative, Zoey made her A grade debut three years ago.

"I don't have any specific hockey goals for the future," she said.

But then, with a hint of warning: "Except to pick up another title with Bello."



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