PLAYING GA FOR FEVER
Six years ago, after the 2013 World Youth Cup, I was contracted to West Coast Fever. I hoped that one day the GS bib would be mine.
Yet, with the Fever goal circle dominated by world-class netballers Caitlin Bassett and Nat Medhurst, when would I get my chance?
As a rookie, I could not have been mentored better than by these two legends of the game. Coming into such an experienced line-up, you know your place in the team and you know you’ve got a lot to learn as the smallest fish in a very big pond.
The Australian Diamonds and the bulk of the Suncorp Super Netball competition boasts almost all of that World Youth Cup team. Gretel Tippett, Kristina Brice and Cody Lange and myself were shooting buddies. Kim Ravaillion, Gabi Simpson, Paige Hadley and Maddy Proud our centre court. Courtney Bruce, Jo Weston, Michaela Wilson, Kate Shimmin our defenders.
I am enormously proud to have trained and played with what is now the present and future of Australian netball. I was also very lucky to have one of netball’s finest coaches, Julie Fitzgerald, work with us in preparation for the championships.
It’s incredibly inspiring, but not surprising, just how many of our 2013 World Youth Cup team are Australian Diamonds. But so far only one shooter, Gretel, has forced her way into that sparkling Aussie goal circle.
I aspire to be a starting Diamonds player, as does virtually every Aussie girl in SSN.
For me though, I need to keep growing my brand of netball. I am realistic and know that to break into the Diamonds as a shooter in the short term is a big challenge. The current Diamonds shooters are well established and consistent performers for Australia. So, unless there are changes to the landscape in the near future, it might be really difficult for the new breed to wear the gold dress.
But I will still build my game, my netball style, and trust that the Australian selectors will see that I have something really special to offer as the game continues to change, expand and become ever more professional.
JUST LIKE MUM
My mum Christine was a high jumper/heptathlete who became a three-time Olympic finalist, Commonwealth gold and silver medallist, and was chosen in the 1985 Australian netball team, plus multiple WA state teams.
Mum always wanted to do both sports, however with the rise of expectations around elite athletics and the introduction of more professional netball, she had her dual sporting options dashed.
I think Mum’s jump, speed and agility was what attracted the Australian selectors to choose her as one of the Australian GKs in 1985.
As a defender, she could jump high enough to put her hand through the bottom of the net and, before the ball would drop through the hoop, she’d reject it.
I think that was when netball brought in the rule “goal-tending”? Maybe umpiring legend Chris Burton could clear that one up. At any rate, Netball Australia told her, ‘You can’t do that anymore’. When she asked why, she was told, ’cause nobody else can do that in netball’. She laughs about those days now.
I wanted to be just like my mum when I was younger. I wanted to play netball and wanted to do athletics, and I wanted to see how well I could do in both sports.
So Mum was my mum but also my coach. We developed a relationship so that when we were at training she was my coach. I would speak to her a certain way and her advice was based on me being an athlete, not necessarily her daughter.
Then when we came home it was different. It would be, ‘What’s for dinner?’ Or ‘How did you go at school today?’ Or we’d talk about fun things that had happened, make jokes, that kind of thing. It’s developed into a real friendship, as well.
Every Saturday morning in summer, we would go to little athletics early and then in March, Mum would become my netball coach, using wheelie bins as defenders and rewarding us with Freddo Frogs as treats.
My dad was a state champion javelin thrower and now my brother has decided to follow in his footsteps. Both are also exceptional golfers. I’ve kind of followed mum’s sporting pathway though!
I really loved high jump. I attempted a heptathlon, but the 800 wasn’t for me! So I competed mainly in the jumps: long, triple and high jump. It came as a bit of a shock that I somehow managed to get a shot-put record in my Saturday club competition, as well.
It wasn’t something I was pushed or forced into by either Mum or Dad; it was more the inspiration and the stories that I heard from them about their careers that helped me to understand a little bit more about their passion for athletics.
FUTURE SPORTING LINKS
In 2020, I’ll watch the Tokyo Olympics wondering if that jumper (high, long or triple) could have been me.
I don’t have any regrets about not pursuing athletics, but I am really interested to see what my talents may still be able to achieve. I’m tempted to do a season of track and field, just to see how it might help me play a better game of netball.
I know we’ve seen Ash Brazill go straight from AFLW to an increased intensity and strength on the netball court. I’d love to try to do something similar with athletics in the off-season. Whether it’s possible, who knows.
For now, I am content to drive, front cut, offer or re-offer, attack or defend, shoot or feed our brilliant Jhaniele or Alice, do what I can with my fabulous Fever team on and off court to win every quarter of netball.
And, for our wonderful Fever fans, I really appreciate the support we are getting this year.