Since 2018, the name of John Minnis Estate Agents has been synonymous with supporting schools’ hockey through a long-standing partnership around the Burney Cup Final.
Company Director John Minnis, a passionate sailor and strong supporter of rugby union, is also committed to making a contribution to the local community and supporting local sport. With offices in East Belfast, Holywood, Donaghadee and Comber – all close to ‘hot-beds’ of hockey activity – a partnership with Ulster Hockey is a natural fit.
However, connections to the sport of hockey run deeper in John Minnis Estate Agents than just the Burney Cup sponsorship. There are a number of John Minnis staff who play hockey across some of the leading clubs in the Province. Directors Chris Kirk and Stephen McLean are stalwarts of Instonians and Bangor respectively, and Sales Agent Ross McKnight continues to play for Lisnagarvey.
In the last few weeks, their achievements have been surpassed by Amy Cooke, Office Co-ordinator who has been based in the Ballyhackamore office since 2020. Amy was privileged to represent Pegasus Hockey Club in the prestigious EHL Women’s Competition in the Wagener Stadium in Amsterdam. Pegasus came up against Den Bosch – considered the greatest club side of all time and English 8-in-a-row Champions Surbiton. As the lowest seeds in their maiden appearance at the event, Pegasus tuned in credible performances against top opposition finishing joint 7th in the event.
We caught up with Amy to discuss all things hockey and for her to share her experience.
“Being involved in the European Hockey League was almost surreal. The games were fast, the players were immensely talented, and the event was something you wish everyone who loves the game could experience one day. Lining up and going head-to-head with players that I’d watched and admired growing up was something I’ll never forget”.
Amy started playing hockey at 5 years old having practically grown up on the side of a hockey pitch with her brother and sister watching her Dad Neil, a former Irish international. Amy informs us that hockey was a big part of her childhood.
Amy has had a long hockey career to date having started her journey at Ballyclare Ladies before moving to Mossley. She then moved to Pegasus at 16 until University beckoned. Amy was lucky enough to get a full scholarship to play hockey at the University of Richmond in Virginia USA. Unfortunately, as the United States does not have a club hockey system and once her 4 years of university were over Amy had to take a break from hockey as she continued to live in the United States. In 2020, Amy and her husband moved back to Northern Ireland and she returned to Pegasus after 5 years without picking up a stick.
Having played at the top level in Ulster, had a scholarship in the USA and played at the most prestigious club competition in hockey against some of the best players in the world, does Amy still have anything she would still love to achieve in hockey?
“Though I’m only 28, I feel that I’ve enjoyed a rewarding hockey career. I’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to play all over the world, from Holland to Singapore, Austria to New York City. In saying that, some of my favourite hockey memories happened right on our doorstep. If I’m honest I was not sure if I’d get the opportunity to play again at a high level due to my 5-year hiatus from the game, but it was the Pegasus girls who knew I could and pushed me to strive for this. That is a big reason why this season has been so special to me. It’s a club I have loved representing from the first time I played in the shirt, and to walk out with the girls and represent our club at the EHL felt like a dream come true. I’m content with what I’ve achieved. My focus from here on out is to enjoy the playing sport I love with my best mates and hopefully the results will follow”.
As Ulster Hockey continues to develop the sport across the Province, it remains a source of pride that we have role models throughout the game, none more so than the Pegasus team who have represented Ireland and Ulster with distinction. We are delighted that we are able to share our pride in these achievements with our friends over at John Minnis Estate Agents and wish Amy and her colleagues all the success both professionally and in sport whether that be on a pitch or water. Finally, we look forward to John Minnis’s continued support of hockey.