We speak to Crista Cullen MBE, our new Performance Director!

Vicky Cheevers's picture
crista-cullenIn September 2017, we announced that Crista Cullen MBE - Great Britain and England hockey star - joined our team as Performance Director. Here, Crista gives us more insight into her approach to life and what she can add to the team. Edwin Doran's Head of Marketing Vicky caught up with Crista - here's what she had to say:
Vicky: What made you start playing hockey?
Crista: I just enjoyed playing all sports, and like most hockey players we played at school. It was the team element that captured me the most about hockey, as well as its dynamic and spontaneous nature.
V: Did you/do you play any other sports?
C: Of course! I think from an agility and mobility perspective, it is important not to specialise too early. My main other sports were squash and touch rugby, but at school I took part in all sports.
V: Can you share with us any lessons you learned from hockey that you could apply to life off the pitch? 
C: There are so many! I think when you're under pressure and 'in the moment' on the sports field, you learn a lot about yourself and others. Throughout life we have scenarios that emulate this, be willing to listen, work with others, being part of a dynamic team with an ingrained belief to succeed and being relentless in order to achieve this, is important. However, in order to develop all of those skills, you have to also be willing to fail. We all have failed, it is how you pick yourself and others up that matters.
V: Who was the most influence on your hockey playing career and why?
C: My sports teacher from school; when I arrived fresh from Kenya, I was daunted by everything other than what I knew, which was sport. My PE teacher used to commit to me and take me to all of my games/training sessions for county, territorial representation and England trials. We all have special people who help us on our journey; it is important that they know who they are.
V: Did you go on tour when you were at school? What was your favourite touring destination and why?
C: I went on an epic world tour with Edwin Doran when I was at Oakham. Unbelievably we went to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, a brief stop off in America and then finally to Fiji. It was amazing - having toured the world playing hockey, my school tour was still one of the best. I loved New Zealand. The sport was so competitive and there is a very outdoors lifestyle (which is me all over). It was just a very special time, enjoyed with many of my school peers and I remember it very fondly.
V: What are the top three things you felt benefitted you from going on tour while you were at school?
  1. Gaining my independence - as I soon after left school to head to university
  2. Appreciating other cultures, and people - I just love travelling so it is great to meet people doing it
  3. Knowing my peers well and making memories in different environments - we still meet up today and reminisce about our brilliant tour!
V: And now as an adult?
C: Much like the above now, I cherish the memories, feel grateful for having the privilege to go on tour and now in my capacity as Performance Director, I hope to give those opportunities to others.
V: What advice would you give to a teacher who is looking at planning a tour?
C: To be open minded, allow touring companies to give you options both for destinations and content. That way, experienced people can offer an array of opportunities and then together we can mould them to suit the school's needs. 
V: Why are you excited to be working with Edwin Doran Sports Tours?
C: Edwin Doran and their sister company Gullivers Sports Travel are household names in sports travel, whether you are a young school athlete or an experienced Olympian. I’m looking forward to spending time with our customers, reviewing itineraries and programmes in detail and giving my insights as someone who has undertaken years of sports travel to ensure we stay at the top of our game. It’s great to be working with a company that is full of people who are as passionate about sport and the customer experience as I am.
If you are interested in having Crista visit your school or would like to talk to us about a hockey tour, please contact us to arrange.