Hockey playing twins Katie and Rebecca Birch didn’t stick around for the final score on A-level results day as they had already flown to the USA to take up their university places having impressed talent scouts in the States.
The 18-year-olds from Monk Fryston were team regulars for their school The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), reaching the national schools finals for the last three years, and have represented England hockey at different levels. It was at these high profile matches that they were spotted by the US talent scouts and offered full hockey scholarships to US universities.
Katie achieved A-levels in geography, PE and psychology and will be studying physiotherapy at the University of Iowa, continuing her hockey training with the university’s Hawkeyes team. Rebecca achieved A-levels in geography, PE and history, and will be 1,000 miles away at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, studying nursing and representing the Lady Monarchs team in intercollegiate hockey.
Rebecca said: “We both decided to study and train in America as it is such a good opportunity for both of us to advance our skills and fitness while having good degrees alongside. The move is intimidating, but having been in preseason for the past week I’m looking forward to the upcoming season and also starting university.”
The twins took up hockey at the age of six with City of York Hockey Club, in recent years playing in the club’s ladies 1st team in the Northern Premier League.
Katie has been in the England squad for three years and captained the England U18s to win bronze at the European championship in Cork last month. Rebecca has also developed her skills through England Hockey, completing her advanced apprenticeship in sporting excellence and playing in the competition winning England team at the 2015 Sainsbury’s School Games.
Proud mother Trisha Birch said: “The girls have worked hard at their hockey over the years and we’re very proud of their achievements. All the long drives and hours spent pitchside have been rewarded as they have been offered fantastic opportunities to further their studies and continue playing top level hockey.”