MANNING hockey coach Tony Lewis will be the assistant coach of the Australian women's 45 team for a Trans Tasman series against New Zealand in Melbourne next year and then the World Cup.
Lewis, 48, was told of his appointment at the conclusion of the Australian Masters championship held in Darwin last week. He guided NSW to victory for the second successive year.
Lewis was initially approached by Hockey Australia to apply for the national job, although he didn't give the matter too much thought from there.
"It was a real shock when my name was read out during the closing ceremony,'' he said.
NSW went through the championship unbeaten with four wins and three draws in the pool games. Even though NSW were the defending champions, Lewis claims Victoria was the early favourite for honours this year.
"But they didn't even make the final,'' he said.
NSW eventually beat Queensland 2-0 in the decider. Six NSW players were later named in the Australian 45s squad.
However, Lewis has another important representative engagement before he concentrates on the Australian assistant job. He'll be taking the NSW under 14 girls side to the Australian titles in Melbourne in October.
Lewis understands the Trans Tasman will be held mid-year.
"The preparation will be a bit like it was for the State. The team will come together a few days before we go to Melbourne for a training camp,'' he explained.
At this stage the venue and date for the World Cup has yet to be determined.
"It could be Germany, which would be good,'' he said.
"But then again I've heard it might also be in Canberra.''
Hockey takes up much of Lewis's time. He's chairman of the Taree Tigers club and also the Manning association junior committee.
He coaches Tigers A-grade men and women and plays B-grade. Lewis has been in charge of the Tigers' men's A-grade side for 17 years. He's had some health issues in the past few months with his heart and he concedes he'll have to jettison some of his positions in the next year to cope with the extra load with the representative commitments.
In all Lewis has been coaching for 25 years.
"I enjoy it,'' he said.
Lewis believes a coach can help a player better handle the pressure of modern living through sport.
"I like to try and install a bit of resilience into kids - basically make them believe in themselves,'' he explained.
"I often see coaches judging performance by looking at the scoreboard first when in fact the scoreboard should often be the last place to look. A successful coach understands athletes as people first and the psychology of the athlete.
"This gives the foundation to develop a plan that will best motivate and drive each athlete individually and therefore produce better results.
"I think far too many athletes across many sports in Taree still set the bar too low and don't realise what they can actually achieve.''
Lewis has been approached to coach the NSW women's 35s next year. At this stage he hasn't made a decision for he's still keen to keep working with the 45s.
"One of the best outcomes for me in Darwin was the approach I received from a group of about 10 players from the NSW 35s, 40s and 45s,'' he said.
"They asked me to continue to work with them via phone or email and to also run a coaching clinic in Taree in March focusing on skills development and developing mental toughness and self belief.
"In Darwin I worked with many players with regards their mental approach and preparation.
"So, I will be running a two day coaching clinic for around 15 to 20 players in March.
"Most of them are Australian players in the 35s, 40s and 45 teams.
"To have that approach from the players was as great a feeling as anything else that I achieved in Darwin.''