SHINING: Grafton hockey's Rick Sampson was named Coach of the Year.
SHINING: Grafton hockey's Rick Sampson was named Coach of the Year. Caitlan Charles

Kids' success at the heart of Sampson's dedication

IN THE middle of winter, when the frost is centimetres thick on the grass, you can expect to see plenty of juniors heating up the hockey turf in the early hours of the morning.

And at the centre of the group barking instructions is always coach Rick Sampson.

Sampson, who this year took on a coaching role with Hockey NSW, has dedicated years to growing the junior ranks at the Grafton Hockey Association.

He has also given up plenty of nice warm mornings in bed. But according to him, it has all been worth it.

Fast forward to the summer months, and even with hockey season off the turf, Sampson still gives up almost six days a week to support the development of the juniors.

It is this level of commitment that helped Sampson earn the gong as Coach of the Year at the Clarence Valley Sports Awards on Saturday.

"I am over the moon to win it, it has been a huge reward. Just to be nominated was an honour, but to take out the award was very unexpected," he said.

"Just to be able to coach the teams, and having Grafton Hockey Association get behind me every week - to me that is amazing."

But Sampson admitted the award was merely a cherry on top, his true enjoyment came from the recognition from the kids he has helped.

"It is pretty full on, but at the end of the day every single one of the kids will thank you and to me that means so much, that is what keeps you going," he said. "I also love seeing the kids succeed. I get a bit emotional every time I see their names in the State teams or on the back page of the paper. Their success is what it's all about."

Sampson also coached the City Bears men's and women's first grade sides, with both teams getting into the GHA grand finals.

He credited wife Emily as the driving force behind his success, with her undying support keeping him going.