Netball: Opportunity to inspire girls of all ages to take up the sport – Potter

Yorkshire Jets helping to spread the netball 'gospel' on the road.
Yorkshire Jets helping to spread the netball 'gospel' on the road.
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Sunday marked International Women’s Day and I was delighted to be involved in the Leeds’ celebrations, being asked to speak at the Leeds Inspirational Women Conference alongside our Yorkshire Jets chair, Marianna Pexton and assistant coach, Maggie Birkinshaw.

Our presentation was part of the ‘This Girl Can’ feature and we spoke very passionately about how we could try and inspire others to play netball.

Marianna asked me if I could focus on explaining to the Conference audience how I cope juggling my academics studies with competing in top-level sport.

This is a question I get asked frequently and I wish there was an answer that would satisfy all; however, the honest truth is that I am a complete organisational freak!

My diary is quite overwhelming to many of my friends, a scary document which gives an unforgiving hour by hour breakdown of my day, including what’s for dinner each night of the week and plenty of my beloved ‘to do lists’.

I think that you will all agree though that there are not many things more satisfying than scribbling out a job off the list!

As you can imagine, much of my time is allocated to intensive weekly training sessions. My week usually starts with the joyous 7am Monday morning University training session. This is broken into an hour of fitness (usually a lot of court sprints!) and an hour of strength and conditioning training.

Monday evenings consist of either a two-hour court session at the University working on tactical game play or playing in a Yorkshire Jets match.

Tuesdays evenings start with the physiotherapist helping those of us who are injured or who have received a bit of a battering in a recent match, resolve pain and niggle issues. Unfortunately, the pain endured during a sports massage is nearly as bad as that experienced following an injury! This is followed by a Jets team meeting with feedback and video analysis, which I sit through with crossed fingers hoping it doesn’t reveal too many daft mistakes, and finally an 8-10pm intensive team training session.

Wednesdays are University match days. On Thursday I try to squeeze in another strength and conditioning session during the day before being reunited with my Jets team-mates for another evening session which is dedicated to fine tuning our game plan for the weekend.

Superleague matches are often on a Friday or a Saturday and the usual order of things is play one day and rest (very important!) on the other.

Then there is Sunday, a day of rest for many, but for me there’s often a long trip in store to play for my club team in the National Premier 1 League. And then, of course, there is the small issue of my medical degree studies!

This week was certainly another busy one as we had a match on Saturday and another match live on Sky Sports on Monday.

Saturday’s match was against Celtic Dragons away and so involved a 10-hour round trip to Cardiff. Despite securing a convincing 60-48 win, it was definitely not our finest game, lacking a little finesse and fluidity. There were plenty of turnovers made but unfortunately our attacking play wasn’t as clinical as we would have liked and so we did not capitalise on these.

However, we were all delighted to finish the first round of matches in a strong third-place position.

Nevertheless, all of us knew nothing but our best play would be acceptable on Monday as we faced Loughborough Lightning, who have been getting better and better as the season has progressed.

Fortunately, we all turned up psyched and ready to go, reflected in a very strong first quarter score of 21-10. Lightning were never going to let us take the rest of the game so easily and as expected the next 45 minutes were much closer but Jets still secured another win 65-56.

Luckily, Anna gave us a well-earned night off on Tuesday for the first time this season.

It’s safe to say by this point an early night was appreciated by all.