Dr Sharon Hutchinson spent eight years in UCC from 1988 to 1996 when she qualified with a B.Sc. in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry under the tutelage of Prof. Jeremy Glennon. She recalls she spent a lot more time running around the Mardyke, than studying in the Boole. The only time she can remember being in the Boole was when on the prowl around Q+2, for a date for the Hockey Ball.
In college, hockey was front and centre in all matters as she represented Ireland at the World Student Games in Sheffield 1991. She got her first cap for Ireland at U21, beating England 1-0 was a real thrill. She also got her first Senior cap while at UCC in 1992. Sharon recalls fondly the support she got from the PE Office in the form of Christine O’Donovan and Kieran O’Dowd. Sharon was one of the very first recipients of the UCC sports bursaries in 1992. At the time it was a great innovation and we can see what they have developed into today. She received two Guinness Jury’s UCC sports star awards in 1990 and she thinks 1992, but the memory isn’t great, and there is no date on the crystal bowl sitting in the cabinet.
She has a special place for now retired Mardyke caretaker Denis Linehan. “Denis was simply brilliant. My kickers and pads would be wet after a winters training session on Tuesday night and Dennis would hang them in the shed, dry them and fold them away, ready for me to get them wet again on Thursday night. Looking after my smelly gear was a call above and beyond duty if ever there was. Even as unobservant students, we could all see the pride and care that Denis took with his work maintaining the Mardyke. He is a true gent.”
After securing the parchment, Sharon worked in the pharma industry in Little Island, with Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Cara Partners while also doing the occasional guest lecture in UCC, which she enjoyed catching up with her old professor and the bit of nostalgia, walking back on to campus brings on. She also spent a stint lecturing in Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.
Sharon retired from international hockey in 2000, married her current husband, the fellow she snagged on Q+2 and produced a girl and four boys. Sport still plays a huge role in her life. She is child officer in Cork Harlequins Hockey Club and a founder member of Kinsale Hockey club. She has also launched a website www.sportswomen.ie. After retiring from hockey she despaired at the lack of media coverage of women’s sport and this is her challenge to that status quo.
The website is dedicated to promoting, supporting and reporting the great achievements and dedication of Ireland’s female athletes. Sharon’s goal is that these athletes will be celebrated as role models and get the recognition that they deserve. The challenge is to let the community know that www.sportswomen.ie exists. Support this endeavour by logging on, checking out, sharing and tweeting.
“The support that UCC has given to sport over the years has been incredible and to myself has been super. In 1992 the £600 sports bursary went a long way to helping my sporting progress. Now that I can no longer do the business on the pitch, the challenge now is to bring the achievements of the women that can, to the public domain”.