Wellington Hockey is delighted that Suzie Muirhead was inducted as a Sports Legend of Wellington at a ceremony at the ASB Sports Centre recently. She joined mountain runner Melissa Moon, squash player Stuart Davenport and the late softball pitcher Kevin Herlihy who were honoured at the same time. Suzie became the first women’s hockey player to become a Sports Legend after Wellington identities Jack Tynan in 2007, Trevor Manning and Alan McIntyre in 2008 and Peter Miskimmin in 2013 had previously been recognised.
Born in Whangarei, she first represented Northland as Suzie Pearce when a 15-year-old student at Pompallier College, and made her debut for New Zealand in a 1993 World Cup qualifier in Philadelphia aged just 18.
Suzie gained a BPhEd (Hons) at the University of Otago in 1996, and then began her association with Wellington when she moved here for further study, and completed an MA (Applied) in Recreation and Leisure with Merit at Victoria University in 1998. She joined up with the University Hockey Club and went on to win seven New Zealand University Blues awards from 1993 to 1999.
Originally a defender Suzie moved to the forward line, before becoming a highly skilled and influential midfield playmaker. She represented New Zealand at two World Cups, and three Commonwealth Games, as well as attending the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where New Zealand finished sixth both times.
Always extremely fit, Suzie played 238 internationals in all, at that time the most by a woman, and captained New Zealand from 2004. She retired after the 2006 World Cup qualifying tournament in Rome, during which she scored her 41st international goal, also a record for a New Zealand woman at that time.
Suzie was named New Zealand Hockey Player of the Year in 2002 and 2006. She was the Wellington Sportswoman of the Year in 1997 and 2000, and became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to women's hockey in 2007.
In speaking at the Wellington Sports Awards Suzie attributed her success to her love of hockey and a determined, even belligerent, attitude instilled in her by her parents. Always a team player first, Suzie referred to the countless memories she has of her time in the New Zealand team, not all of them on the turf. She said that a legacy she is proud of is that she was instrumental in encouraging a more inclusive spirit within the New Zealand team which saw the development of such accomplished leaders as Emily Naylor and Kayla Sharland.
Although she finished with international hockey some time ago, Suzie has continued to play at club and Masters level in Wellington and is currently helping out the Kapiti women’s team, for whom she has scored two goals this season.
Wellington Hockey congratulates all new Wellington Sports Legends and Suzie Muirhead in particular.