She has always been inspired by both of her parents who also played hockey for South Africa and is eager to achieve something as great as her parents did, which was having that love for hockey and playing for her country. Photo: Supplied
From a young age, Rhodes showed a keen interest in hockey and admits that she can’t remember a time when she didn’t love the idea of playing the sport. However, she also had a hand in playing tennis and featured in her High School’s first team. Photo: Supplied
In her first season at Liberty, she was named Freshman of the Year, All-Big East First Team and 1st Team All-State recipient, proving her abilities from the onset. Photo: Supplied
In 2018, Rhodes travelled across the world after she was recruited in her matric year from St Anne’s Diocesan College by Liberty University where she has spent over a year studying and playing hockey. Photo: Supplied

Daniella Rhodes Becoming a Star in Her Own Right

by | Jun 3, 2020

It seems like athleticism runs in the genes of the Rhodes household as legendary South African cricketer, Jonty Rhodes’ daughter, Daniella, is making her mark on the hockey field in the United States.

In 2018, Rhodes travelled across the world after she was recruited in her matric year from St Anne’s Diocesan College by Liberty University, where she has spent over a year studying and playing hockey.

In her first season at Liberty, she was named Freshman of the Year, All-Big East First Team and 1st Team All-State recipient, proving her abilities from the onset.

From a young age, Rhodes showed a keen interest in hockey and admits that she can’t remember a time when she didn’t love the idea of playing the sport. However, she also played tennis and featured in her High School’s first team.

Rhodes has always been inspired by both of her parents who also played hockey for South Africa and is eager to achieve something as great as her parents did, which was having that love for hockey and playing for her country.

Apart from her love for hockey, Rhodes also has a passion for fashion and is majoring in fashion merchandising, with a minor in business at Liberty University.

She plans to start her career in fashion once she graduates in 2023, while taking in every training session, improving herself mentally and physically to shape her sporting career.

Speaking with Celine Abrahams, Rhodes chats about growing up in Durban, her biggest challenges and what South Africans can learn from the United States in terms of backing women’s sport.

Daniella, it’s great to chat with you! Let’s get right into it, who is Daniella Rhodes?

I am that girl who had that normal upbringing in South Africa, surrounded by constant friends and family, living the beachy Durban life. I was privileged enough to attend amazing schools and to play the sport I love and my life in South Africa has made me the person I am today.

What was your life like growing up?

Life growing up in Durban was honestly the best. There was always something going on and friends to see. There was the beach, and shopping mall just several minutes away from where I lived in Mount Edgecombe, and I was truly blessed to live in such an incredible place. I would come back home from boarding school on the weekends and just enjoy spending time with my friends and family.

At what age did you discover a love for hockey?

I have been playing hockey ever since I can remember. There is a photo of me playing hockey outside in my garden when I was three years old so I can definitely say I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love hockey.

Have you played any other sports?

I grew up playing tennis since I was young and played on the first team in High School.

Having parents that both played hockey for South Africa undoubtedly inspired me.” – South African hockey player, Daniella Rhodes

Having parents that both played hockey for South Africa undoubtedly inspired me. As a young kid, I wanted to achieve something as great as my parents did, which was having that love for hockey and playing for my country.

What is it like having your dad – Jonty Rhodes – who is considered the greatest fielder of all time, as someone that you can draw inspiration from?

It helps to have a dad who knows how real sport can be. With all the ups and downs of the game, he didn’t let me get beat up about the times where I didn’t do well in my sport, and I was fortunate enough to have a mum who taught me to be humble in my achievements.

Please tell us more about your journey in hockey and where you are today.

Two years ago, I would never have imagined I would be where I am today. I am proud of my journey and taking that big step, living halfway across the world in America, as experiencing a whole new culture has grown and shaped me into the person I am today. I got recruited in my matric year at St Anne’s Diocesan College and that is all thanks to my friend Sophie McDonald who played on my high school hockey team with me as she was looking at American Universities and recommended me to the head hockey coach at Liberty University.

Long story short, all the doors opened, and I couldn’t say no to such an amazing opportunity and today I have spent over a year playing hockey and studying in America.

What have been your biggest challenges in your career?

The biggest challenge in my career so far is coping with everyday life combined with hockey. Hockey is a big part of my day,  I would spend on average about four hours every day beside the weekend if it was our offseason, whether it was in the gym or on the field and learning how to manage my time throughout the day is something that is challenging, especially while still studying.

How do you manage to keep yourself motivated on your bad days?

I have learned that everyone has bad days and there is no point in feeling sorry for myself. My team culture this year has focused on grit and we define that as sustained passion and perseverance for a long-term goal and this has really helped in motivating me. I keep myself motivated for the girls on my team, we go through everything together and we do everything for each other. How I keep myself motivated is remembering my “why”, always having a goal and just being really thankful for the gift of hockey God has given me.

Who are your female sporting heroes?

I have always looked up to and admired all the women hockey players that have played on the national team. I never really grew up with a female sporting hero because I believed in being my own one.

What has been your biggest highlights in your career so far?

I have had great highlights in my career. My first season at Liberty I was Freshman of the Year, All-Big East first team and 1st team all-state. But the biggest highlight would be being a better hockey player than I was the day before.

What is it like living and playing in the United States?

Living in the United States is not as different as I thought it would be. Obviously, there are differences living in the States compared to South Africa however, I grew accustomed to my surroundings not long after a month of living there but my accent never gets old to Americans and they are in awe that I say robot instead of “traffic light”.

“The one thing I noticed that is different when playing hockey in America is that I had to learn how to demand the ball and be more aggressively vocal on the field, and for those who know me I am far from aggressive so it has taken some getting used to.” – Rhodes speaks on playing hockey in USA.

The one thing I noticed that is different when playing hockey in America is that I had to learn how to demand the ball and be more aggressively vocal on the field, and for those who know me I am far from aggressive so it has taken some getting used to.

We have seen on your Instagram page that you are also into fashion. Please tell us about that other side of you.

One of my biggest passions is fashion and I am majoring in fashion merchandising, with a minor in business at Liberty University and I am loving it! The only downside is that there are many times I walk into my fashion class looking dead tired from training while everyone else looks like a million bucks.

Do you have any plans in place to venture more into the fashion industry?

I would love to start my career in fashion once I graduate in 2023, and I plan to use everything that I have learned to get me to where I want to be.

What is your greatest sporting ambition?

My greatest sporting ambition is to use the opportunity I have in America to my full potential, on and off the field, while taking in every training session, improving myself mentally and physically from that.

When it comes to the promotion and support of women’s sport in the USA, how different is it as compared to South Africa?

I think the main difference for women’s sport between America and South Africa is that there are so many more advanced facilities that it is easier to be a hockey player in America.” – Rhodes highlights the difference in the promotion and support of women’s sport in USA.

 I can only relate to the support and promotion of women’s hockey and I think the main difference for women’s sport between America and South Africa is that there are so many more advanced facilities that it is easier to be a hockey player in America. However, I think both countries have made an effort in promoting women’s sport, but more is needed as we still mostly remain underrepresented in all sports.

What advice would you give to South Africa in terms of growing female sports in the country?

My advice to South Africa would be to look at other countries leading sportswomen’s teams and see how they have set up professional leagues for women and to act, as funding and opportunities are the biggest hurdles sportswomen face.

What advice would you give to other young girls who are facing challenges in their sporting careers and are on the verge of calling it quits on making their dreams a reality?

To the young girls facing challenges, I can relate. All I can say is that you have to persist and push through every challenging moment. I think if you have that dream, and you love what you do, it will become a reality even if it doesn’t seem like it in that moment. But if you don’t love it, find something else that you love because there’s no point trying to knock down a hard wall when you aren’t loving what you’re doing.

Do you have an idea of what you would like to do beyond your sporting career?

My sporting career has played such a huge role in my life and I am so thankful for all the sporting opportunities I have had. I would like to focus more on myself and my fashion beyond my sporting career and I am excited to see where it will lead me.

 

Photo 1 Caption: It seems that athleticism runs in the genes of the Rhodes household as legendary South African cricketer, Jonty Rhodes’ daughter, Daniella, is a shining star on the hockey field in the United States. Photo: Supplied

Photo 2 Caption: In 2018, Rhodes travelled across the world after she was recruited in her matric year from St Anne’s Diocesan College by Liberty University where she has spent over a year studying and playing hockey. Photo: Supplied

Photo 3 Caption: In her first season at Liberty, she was named Freshman of the Year, All-Big East First Team and 1st Team All-State recipient, proving her abilities from the onset. Photo: Supplied

Photo 4 Caption: From a young age, Rhodes showed a keen interest in hockey and admits that she can’t remember a time when she didn’t love the idea of playing the sport. However, she also had a hand in playing tennis and featured in her High School’s first team. Photo: Supplied

Photo 5 Caption: She has always been inspired by both of her parents who also played hockey for South Africa and is eager to achieve something as great as her parents did, which was having that love for hockey and playing for her country. Photo: Supplied

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