I was late to jump on the netball bandwagon and certainly didn’t grow up with posters of netballers on my wall, nor did I hoard autographed tickets from internationals and I can’t even name where my fellow English team mates made their international debuts (*cough* Jo Harten). I had very little knowledge of the England Netball team and when the Commonwealth Games were held in Manchester, England in 2002, I genuinely had no idea that netball was involved, even though my mum was working at the event #oblivious
I attended my first international game of netball when I was 14 and I do remember fan girling over the undeniable talent of the England GK and Australian GA. My coach, knowing that I had other sporting interests, told me about the England GK, Geva Mentor, and how she had debuted for the national side at the age of 16 the year before. My coach said to me at the time that I too could have that same opportunity to represent my country if I wanted to and perhaps I could even be better than her. I only really played GK then and it is evident that I have yet to grow (in any sense of the word) to be a better GK than Geva, especially given that she is having the season of her life with Sunshine Coast Lightning. Although not a netball geek, to have grown up and eventually played alongside someone who’s talent I admired when netball was alien to me was pretty cool.
As I mentioned I recall watching the Australian GA at the time, Sharelle McMahon and also being floored by her speed, agility and accuracy. Having only been a part of the senior international set up for a short time it was a great disappointment of mine to have not been able to try and match my talent against that of Sharelle’s before she retired from playing. I mention this because as it turns out the next GA that came around was more than capable of filling the shoes of the GA legend from my youth and providing myself and many other defenders a palpable challenge on the court.
For Nat Medhurst to have played 200 national league games is a huge feat!! As one of only six Australian players to accomplish this feat, that stack joins the already lengthy list of accomplishments that are next to Nat’s name. I have had the honour to have played alongside and be captained by another great GA from our game, Pamela Cookey. She pushed me to my physical and mental limits as the fiercest of competitors in the training environment and helped shape in me the level of resilience required to be an elite netballer. It goes without saying, although I obviously will, that Nat provides me with that exact same level of intensity and expectation in terms of acceptable standards on a daily basis and her fearless leadership style continues to drive me towards my best netball to date. The game, and far too many fans for an England bencher to comprehend, thank you for your inspiration.