Frances Davies: From hockey fields to criminal courts

Frances Davies of New Zealand passes the ball during the 2019 Women's FIH Field Hockey Pro League match between New Zealand and China  in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)
Frances Davies of New Zealand passes the ball during the 2019 Women's FIH Field Hockey Pro League match between New Zealand and China in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

To celebrate International Women’s Day (8 March), Tokyo 2020 will use the month of March to shine a spotlight on female athletes - past and present - who have changed the face of sport and society as a whole. Today, we feature a New Zealand Black Sticks defender who also works at the criminal courts.

Deets

  • Name: Frances Davies
  • Age: 24
  • Country: New Zealand
  • Sport: Hockey

Her athlete life

Frances Davies grew up in Tauranga, New Zealand and was a massive fan of the Black Sticks - the New Zealand women’s national hockey team. Meeting her idols and Black Sticks veterans Gemma Flynn, Rose Keddell and Sam Charlton inspired the young Davies to pursue her passion for hockey.

"I played against Rose Keddell when I was Year 9 and have always looked up to her. Gemma Flynn coached me when I was 10 or 11 and is another massive role model in my hockey,” Davies told nzherald.co.nz in 2016 when she was first named part of the national squad.

"Last year I got to play with Sam, Gemma and Rose for Midlands and it was awesome to learn from their experiences," the then 19-year-old athlete said.

In 2016, Davies competed for the Black Sticks against Malaysia and helped the team land a gold medal victory against number one rival Australia at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The team are still chasing that elusive Olympic medal, having lost two bronze medal matches in previous Games – firstly against host nation Great Britain at London 2012 and then against Germany in 2016.

But after securing their ticket to the Games in the 2019 Oceania Cup, and with Tokyo 2020 now on the horizon, the Black Sticks are out for redemption.

“Back in March when it was postponed, I was pretty gutted. When I first made the New Zealand team, it was my goal – and the team’s goal – to play at the 2020 Olympics. We’d been training for four years, and it felt like it was just ripped away from us,” Davies told newsroom.co.nz in October of last year.

Her professional life

With the Olympic Games postponed in 2020, Frances Davies found extra time to pursue her passion for criminal justice.

The 24-year-old hockey player has found a full-time job at the Auckland District Court, where she helps jurors in the courtroom. She is also continuing with her education, studying for a degree in criminology.

“I’m so stoked to have this role, working with jurors and helping them through the process. It’s a job where I know I can make my way up,” she said.

On top of that, she also completed work experience at Pillars – an organisation dedicated to helping children whose parents are in prison.

“It was so eye-opening,” said Davies. “I’d never thought of what happens to the children before now. But it’s crazy the stress it puts on their lives when a parent goes into prison. It really affects them.

“Those kids don’t have the role model in their life to help them grow as a person. But the mentor gives them a different aspect on life, new experiences and takes some of the strain off the family. I worked behind the scenes, and it was really fulfilling to see it making a difference to children’s lives.”

But while this gives her a lot of satisfaction, the Tanuagan native isn’t about to quit hockey as she is on the cusp of making her Olympic debut.

As she balances her work life with an intensive training regime, Davies says she is proud of everyone who juggles being an athlete and their day jobs.

Now all she needs to do is to learn how to stick to her time management plan.

“I have a new admiration for the Black Sticks players who work and play hockey,” Davies explained before saying, “I've been hitting a wall around lunchtime. I’m living a completely different life to what I was before lockdown."

Watch Frances Davis and the rest of the Black Sticks team in action when the Tokyo 2020 hockey competition begins on Saturday 24 July at the Oi Hockey Stadium.