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Meet Nike Lorenz: The Young German Defender Lighting Up Hockey
Growing up in a hockey family in Germany, Nike Lorenz first stepped foot onto a pitch at a young age.
It never crossed her mind during the years she spent honing her craft that she would have the opportunity to represent her country on one of the largest international hockey stages, the Summer Olympic Games. But at 19, Lorenz found herself doing exactly that at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
As one of the youngest hockey athletes in Rio, Lorenz didn’t let the pressure get to her. She helped solidify the German’s defense and finish the games with the bronze medal.
Flash forward to 2019, Lorenz recently finished her collegiate career at the University of Maryland and is back in action on her home turf starring for Mannheimer HC and representing Germany in the FIH Pro League this spring.
We sat down with the 2017 and 2018 FIH Rising Star of the Year nominee to discuss her journey in the sport, how her experience in Rio has helped her grow on and off the pitch and her love of all things avocado.
How did you first get your start in hockey and what do you love most about the sport?
I was raised in a hockey family, so I was naturally inspired by the passion they had for the sport and wanted to give it a try! By 3 years old, I found myself on the pitch and I haven’t left it since.
I started my career by playing for a smaller club in my hometown and really felt a connection to the sport. After 11 years, I saw an opportunity for myself in the sport and wanted to take it from a hobby to another level. I decided to change clubs to really make a run at playing on a professional level.
The thing I love most about hockey is having the opportunity to spend time with some of my closest friends. When you play for a club, your teammates become family. We all share a common goal and appreciation for the sport, which strengthens that bond even further. Whether it’s my best or worst day on the pitch, I’m always able to enjoy having that time with my friends.
Let’s look back at 2016… What was your initial reaction to being selected for the German national team for the Rio Olympics?
I remember it like it was yesterday, we were in a team meeting when the Rio squad was announced. The managers showed a slide that featured all of the names of the athletes who had made the team. I saw my name on the slide and wasn’t entirely sure I had actually made it until I looked two or three more times!
It’s really hard to describe that feeling because I can’t really compare it to anything I’ve ever felt before. Sharing a room with the teammates that I got so close to during preparation and seeing some get the chance to pursue their dreams while others don’t... it definitely was one of the most intense moments in my life so far.
Take us back to Rio. Are there any moments that stand out in particular to you? What was it like being one of the youngest hockey athletes there?
The first thing that comes to mind is winning the bronze medal match and celebrating that. Although, I have to admit that losing the semifinal in a shootout is almost as present. Just comparing these two emotions and moments shows how quickly you can go from losing to winning.
In my position and role on the pitch, it didn’t really feel like I was one the youngest. And, even more important, off the pitch all the girls treated me respect and didn’t judge me by my age.
Who has been your biggest mentor and why?
That’s a tough one! I wouldn’t say that there is one specific mentor that I owe my success to. That being said, I have had a lot of different coaches throughout my youth, club and national team experiences that have shaped me in different ways and helped me become the player I am today.
But when it comes to my attitude and personality on and off the pitch, my parents played a huge role in shaping that.
What’s it like to play for different teams all over the world? What have you noticed is a defining characteristic/skill of a successful player and/or team?
Playing for different teams across the world is definitely challenging and makes you grow—mostly from being uncomfortable in a new setting. All the different people, players and coaches taught me new things and apply different values that help me hone my skills.
Discipline and knowing your strengths and weaknesses are the defining characteristics of both successful players and teams. No one is perfect but knowing how each of your individual skill sets combine to benefit the team can be the difference between success and failure.
This past fall you had a leg injury that put you out of the last four games in your regular collegiate season. How do you personally bounce back from injuries? How would you encourage someone who is going through an injury?
Injuries are a great opportunity to take some time for yourself, focus on what you have to individually work on and to reset. As most injuries are typically caused by some sort of outside factor, I feel that it’s important to learn from each injury, understand why it happened, and to get to know your body and its limits better. When you do all that, a recovery can go by pretty fast.
Final question: we know your favorite food is avocado… do you have any interesting recipes you like to use it in? What’s your favorite food that includes avocado?
Haha! Obviously avocado toast is a big favorite for me, but avocados actually work great for vegan baking recipes. A couple of my favorite baking recipes include dark chocolate avocado cookies and brownies. If you haven’t tried it, you have to!
Learn more about fellow #TeamSTX athlete Jared Panchia and the impact he is making for the New Zealand Black Sticks