Netball: ‘Grounded’ Yorkshire Jets determined to keep feet firmly on the floor

Yorkshire Jets
Yorkshire Jets
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Writing this column the morning after thrashing Loughborough Lightning, 70-44, is a fantastic feeling.

The evening was particularly special for me as it saw a return to my home town of Sheffield and a reunion with some of the individuals who were so instrumental in the early days of my netball career.

Most notably, it was lovely to see my high school and county coach, Helen Thorneloe, who was a constant source of support and encouragement throughout my teenage years.

It was great to see Helen organising an under-14s South Yorkshire tournament as an opener to our match, which was featured live on BBC Look North, and then to see those young players sitting in the sold-out crowd of over 850 people. Ten years ago, that would have been me.

Jets got off to a fantastic start in the opening quarter, at one point scoring nine goals unanswered.

Amusingly, when coach, Anna Carter, shared this statistic with us in our post-match debrief several of the girls required clarification as to what this meant. Fortunately, netball ability isn’t wholly dependent upon statistical analysis!

What it did mean is that we finished the quarter with a strong lead of 18-7. Unsurprisingly, Loughborough attempted a strong comeback in the next 15 minutes but thanks to the accurate feeds of Jess Shaw into sharp shooters, Nikala Smith and Lottysha ‘Timmy’ Cato, their efforts fell short and at half-time it was Jets in control, 33-19.

Steph Wilson started the second half at WD (wing defence), with Sally Butters moving to centre. These changes brought even more pressure in the Jets’ defence, enabling Tuaine Keenan and me to come out with several flying interceptions, further increasing the lead to 20 goals with the third quarter score 51-31.

Finally, Brie Grierson came on for a quarter at WA (wing attack), with player of the match, Natalie Haythornthwaite, switching to GA (goal attack). Each of these changes had a positive effect on the game, showing the strength of our whole squad this year and boding well for the future.

Unfortunately, one of our original squad members Lucy Richardson has had to withdraw from Yorkshire Jets due to injury.

Everyone at Jets is delighted that the surgery on her knee last week was a success and no doubt she will work very hard in rehabilitation.

This left an opening in the squad that I’m delighted to say this has been filled by my younger sister, Amy. I have played alongside my sister for many years and fully appreciate what a hard worker and talented player she is. I often get asked what it is like to be on court with my sister and I must admit it has its positives and negatives, as we are both defenders.

For example, if Amy does something wrong I am much more inclined to let her know and vice versa.

However, the fact of the matter is I know Amy and I want the absolute best for each other on and off the court and this is undoubtedly recognised in the support we show one another in our netball.

Our defensive unit is really developing this year with new players Megan Clarke and Bea Skingsley joining the returning partnership of Tuaine Keenan and me.

It is fantastic to have Tuaine back over from New Zealand and to get another opportunity to work alongside her.

Last season, it took me a while to adapt to her style of play but this year I feel as though we are really developing a mutual understanding and appreciation of each other.

If nothing else, her ability to repeatedly fall over her own feet is really rather comical!

Everyone at Jets knows we need to keep our feet on the ground as we face last year’s finalists Surrey Storm on Saturday followed by Team Northumbria on Monday.

We then play our first home game in Leeds on Friday, February 13 against Manchester Thunder – tickets are selling fast so get yours now!