Telford Tigers are delighted to announce the return of Oli Hunt, who will also be returning as the Tigers 2 Team Captain for the 2023/24 season.
Hunt first started his Telford hockey career in 2003 where he joined Telford Venom before going on to ice for the Telford Trojans and Telford Titans. The now 26-year old, went on to have a spell away from playing whilst completing his University studies before making a return to Telford for the 2019/20 season.
Since then, Hunt has played a huge part in the club’s Laidler team, winning several accolades not just as a team, but as an individual player. In addition to picking up team silverware, Hunt has also picked up awards for players’ player, most valued player and coaches’ player across the last two club awards evenings.
We spoke to Oli about his return to Telford Tigers.
You’re returning to Tigers 2 for your fourth season, how does it feel to be back?
“It feels great to be back for my fourth season with the Tigers 2. I grew up playing all of my hockey out of Telford since I was 7 years old so to be part of the Senior hockey in Telford is still a dream come true. I can’t wait to get started again for the upcoming season and building on what we have accomplished over the last two years.”
How do you feel that you have been selected as team captain for a second season?
“Captaining this team and this group of lads is an absolute privilege, it’s a role that I’m very lucky to have been given by Scott, Doug and the coaching team for the second time. I take great pride in wearing the ‘C’ and leading the boys out on the ice, my role as captain is something that I am personally wanting to improve on from last year and be the best captain I can be for the everyone involved with Tigers 2.”
You have been part of the same team who has won the league in 2022 followed by the cup and playoff double in 2023. What do you believe were the key factors that contributed to the team’s success?
“There are a lot of factors leading to our success over the past two seasons, not only do we have a squad of skilled, dedicated, hardworking and talented players, but we all have the right attitude on and off the ice about why we are here. We play hockey because we love it and that means that we all play for each other and not for ourselves.
This team has already accomplished so much not only through the past two seasons with Tigers 2, but most of us have played all of our junior hockey together too, the team chemistry that we have is something that I think has helped us excel in this league so it’ll be more of the same for the upcoming season.”
How do you plan to engage with the coaches and support staff to maximise the team’s potential this season as captain?
“Stepping into my second year as Captain I now know what the role fully entails and what is required of me through the season, so I’m confident that this year I will be able to do more not only for the team on the ice but for the Tigers organisation as a whole. So I will be looking to support the on day volunteers, media teams and changing room staff on game day as much as I can.
From a pure hockey point of view, post game analysis is something that I know we can do more of this year as we live stream all of our home games on YouTube. Discussions and meetings with the coaching team at training about tactics, opposition, style of play etc and reinforcing any of the messages from Scott to the boys on game day is something I can also improve on so I’m looking forward to seeing how this helps us on the ice.”
Reflecting on your previous seasons with Telford Tigers, what are some of the standout moments or achievements that you cherish the most?
“Of course winning the league in the 21/22 season and then completing the double in the 22/23 season, and being able to personally lift these trophies in front of our dedicated fans have been my personal highlights.
Whilst winning trophies and champagne celebrations are of course highlights, some of the standout moments for me have come from when we have faced adversities. The mid-week away game against Sutton with a 10pm face-off and for us to turn up with a full squad to keep our league title chances alive just shows exactly why we are all here. Winning that game and driving back home at 2am knowing that everyone on the team is dedicated and wants to have their part to play in our overall success is something that I really am proud to be a part of.”
With each passing season, the competition gets tougher. How do you stay motivated and continue to perform year after year?
“The past two seasons have been a close battle with us and Hull Jets, playing and pushing each other at every opportunity for silverware, this has improved every one of us in this team. The motivation comes from not only wanting to be the best team in this league but also wanting to be the best for each other on and off the ice.
Hull Jets have now moved up to North 1, but we by no means have an easy route to silverware. The teams in this league are always improving so we know we have to step up our game too. With the addition of Billingham Buckaneers and Hull Sharks we have a really busy season ahead of us but we all can’t wait to get going.”
Tigers 2 have a very close knit group of players. How do you plan to maintain those relationships and camaraderie with your teammates, both on and off the ice?
“Most of us have grown up playing hockey together and those who have joined us more recently have slotted straight into our team ethos. We are all friends first and then teammates second and this translates to how we play for each other on the ice. Team nights out and post game service station stops will continue through the year and it’s something we all look forward to.
We all have to bond very quickly when our only option is to share one shower when we play Bradford away…”
Do you have any goals or aspirations for yourself and the team in this upcoming season?
“Our goal this year is to complete the treble, building on what we have achieved from the past two seasons. Personally for me, it is just to build on my own leadership skills as captain of this team and to get the most out of the boys when we are on the ice.”
And finally, is there anything you would like to say to our fans ahead of the season?
“To our fans I would like to say thank you for your ongoing support for the Tigers 2 team. Thank you to the fans that supported us through every home and away game throughout the season, the fans in Widnes for playoff weekend and the fans that supported us in the Cup games, your ongoing support is something that has helped propel us to what we achieved, and we all feel very lucky to have this support given we are the second team within Telford.
On a more personal note, thank you to our family members and partners who make sacrifices to allow us to play the game we love and are always out there in the crowd cheering us on. For the upcoming season you can expect more of the same, we are all here to compete and win at the highest level possible and we are ready to get started.
On behalf of the Tigers 2 team, we can’t wait to see you all in the crowds and banging on the glass as we look to complete the treble. Thank you for all your support so far and we can’t wait to get going.
Up the Tigs!”
Telford Tigers 2 Head Coach Scott McKenzie commented on Oli Hunt’s return;“Our captain. Our leader. Oli is doing a fantastic job of being the captain of this team. He is a true leader on and off the ice and is a dream to work with. Oli creates a good link between players and coaching staff which allows us to focus fully on coaching.
He has a fantastic work ethic and leaves everything on the ice. Oli does all the little things that sometimes players don’t get credit for, but as a coaching team, we notice these little things and realise that they are extremely important parts of why the team has been so successful.
I would also like to pass on my congratulations to Oli and Penny on their marriage this summer and wish them all the best for the future.”
Oli’s own and loan shirts are available to order now for £75 (Away). Please see the Tigers’ Online Shop for details.
In the 2023/24 season, Tigers are again offering individual player sponsorship at £500. The package will include a personalised ‘SPECIAL’ exclusive third jersey with a company name or family name patch, announcements on match nights, a small advert or logo in the match night programmes and a signed player photo. The jersey will be worn for cup games and play-off games and will not be available as a replica.
If you are interested or require more information on the individual player sponsorships, contact firstname.lastname@example.org