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I have been putting off writing this blog for about three weeks. I had all four of my wisdom teeth out in the chair and using just local anaesthetic, so that was a good excuse for my procrastinating for a while. We can officially stick a fork in the 2019 season, another epic, (especially in terms of its length!) with so much to reflect on and many questions being asked about how we found ourselves finishing in 6th after hosting our first Grand Final last season. The end of the year is always going to naturally be a time for reflection, we are still in the process of engaging in a thorough structured review process of the year as a team and we had taken the time to reflect as a leadership group. It is frustrating to reflect on how the year went and where I know I could have been a better version of myself, however, I am still learning, and it’s comforting to have some clarity over my thoughts and a ‘plan’ of sorts to move forward with. I won’t speak on behalf of the Club, however in true ‘Let’s Be Frank’ fashion, here are my final personal reflections for 2019.
Although I don’t consciously think about it, I am driven by my perfection and for things to ‘be right’ which often means that even when I am excelling, I spend little or no time celebrating achievements but instead adjusting my targets and expectations towards something new and challenging. Although there were so many positive things to reflect on about the 2018 season, I finished the end of the year feeling like I hadn’t achieved enough and on the whole, I did not take in the moments and enjoy the year as much as I should have. It is no secret that I love to train, I have said, and written about it several times before, so, for the 2019 season I wanted to try and apply that same level of enjoyment to being out on court and just playing the game.
I think I am right in saying that WCF are always the first team to return to the Club environment after the off-season break and after more weeks that I care to recall of court sprints, laps around the oval and netball drills, our group was reaching new and greater heights in terms of testing results. I was the fittest, fastest and leanest I have ever been and felt confident that my increased physical capacities would transfer onto the court. However, as we progressed through our pre-season fixtures, I began to realise that I wasn’t playing as much as I would like and that my stats were not where they had been at the same time in the previous season. Very quickly, the confidence that I had in myself and the physical work that had gone into the pre-season made me start to doubt myself and question what was missing and why there was a disconnect when I was out on court.
The season started, and, for me, I established very quickly that things were going to be a huge uphill climb. The results of games were not going our way, I was spending increasingly more time on the bench and injuries to squad members meant disruption, new combinations and sporadically stepping into the role of Captain. As soon as I mentally opened the door a fraction, self-doubt flooded in… What was I missing? Was I still capable of playing at SSN level? Had I peaked and missed it? Was I being phased out? Why was everything such hard work? It is so ironic now to reflect that setting my main goal as ‘To enjoy being out on court’ contributed so heavily towards my overall feeling of dissatisfaction.
As I have evolved as a leader, my style has been to lead by example and use my high standards and emotional intelligence to guide a group. My form was very average, and I was overthinking absolutely everything, which just continued to make negative contributions to my wellbeing. I felt like I was struggling to be a good leader whilst having so many internal battles which made me feel disconnected and selfish.
Being an international player, who has not played international netball for a couple of years provides me with an added challenge. I spent upwards of 80% of my year in WA and the longer I have been here, unfortunately my homesickness continues to grow. I came back to Perth for pre-season at the beginning of November but was able to get to Canada for two weeks over Christmas to see my parents and sister (and get engaged!). However, now as everyone has gone into savings mode for my wedding, I won’t get to see my parents until I go home next September to get married. This season has also been the longest period of time that I have gone without seeing my fiancée and although it was amazing that she was able to get over here to visit in June, 25 days was not enough. I have always been incredibly independent, and it is something I have always prided myself on, however, as I continue to grow as a person, living and working in a country that is not my home continued to provide me with a few more hurdles to jump over this season. Vulnerability is an emotion that I have yet to learn to sit comfortably with.
A quote I read about me in an article in the week leading up to my 50th National League game which gave me serious pause for thought and kicked my brain into a new gear, albeit a little too late…
“Since arriving in Perth, Stacey has supported and challenged our thinking and has played an integral role in the development of Fever.”
I’ve only had a few lightbulb moments in my life, and when I read this there was definitely a flicker! At the end of my first season with WCF I was awarded Coaches Player of the Year, for what I would describe as being a pain in the bum. A fresh phase to the environment who wanted to learn, challenge the existing ways of working and succeed. When I am at my best, I would describe myself as creative, instinctive and extremely challenging; to myself and to my environment.
Another of my traits is to be compliant and very literal. I love rules, order and structure and I have come to realise that playing for WCF provides me with the constant challenge of playing with instinct and from the foundations of how I was taught to play netball whilst adopting the Fever Way. Without realising I spent the whole year losing that battle, over thinking, and going further and further down the ‘Fever Alley’ until I had strayed completely off my own path. When I am using my strengths consistently towards my goals and I am thinking and behaving in a truly authentic way the result, often, is fulfilment, confidence, without self-doubt and a greater resilience to stress and setbacks.
All my problems certainly were not solved, but I had at least had my awareness raised and felt like I had gained some clarity, control and more importantly individual accountability to move forward and implement actions and a mindset to start to overcome my funk.
So finally, in conclusion, what have I learnt this year…??
Make sure to keep checking in on my motivators (conscious and unconscious), does my life, job and relationships satisfy those and make it easier for me to operate as my best self-more often? Continue to be extremely mindful of my individual strengths and lead, in all areas of my life, from a place where they are at the forefront of my mind so that I am completely engaged, happier and everything that I do is authentic.
Although I am not ready to allow any mental space to think about WCF 2020, I am so excited to be going home and filling up my cup. I am satisfied that I have had the time to gain some clarity over the ways that I can and need to continue to grow as a person and player. Lastly, I am open minded and excited about the opportunities that may lay ahead during the off-season period.
Twitter & Instagram: @StcyJyneFrancis
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