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17 Oct 2020
The Almost Fairy Tale
By Alexis Stevens
Women's Open Head Coach
In just our second year in the Gold Industry Group West Australian Netball League (GIGWANL), the Curtin Hamersley Comets Women’s Open team made the Grand Final, going down to the West Coast Warriors 68 - 51. Despite the score line, the Comets had some excellent passages of attacking play and some incredible defensive gains, however a slow start and inconsistency prevented us from getting the win and achieving a fairy tale end.
This season we had 11 wins, 1 draw, and 5 losses. An incredible turnaround from 2019, when we lost all 12 games. I have been asked a number of times over the past month how we were able to achieve such a remarkable turnaround. I can put it down to the following four points:
1. The physical conditioning (fitness level) of the team this season was significantly better than it was in 2019, which allowed us to train harder and improve quicker.
2. Collectively, our shooters completed over 40,000 practice goals during preseason to improve their shooting percentages and confidence from long range.
3. Lindal Rohde joined our team. Lindal is an incredible person and athlete, she has this amazing ability to make the people around her better, especially the younger members of our team. I saw their work ethic and performances lift once Lindal joined us, I’m not sure exactly what it was, but I think it was a combination of them wanting to impress her, to beat her or to be her.
4. Amy Fuller and I meticulously planned and utilised every minute of every training session. We were strategic in our planning and decisions, set clear standards for the team, and trusted and challenged each other more than we had in 2019.
In 2020 our team was led by Captain Sarah East and Vice-Captains Lindal Rohde, Mia Henderson and Erin Smith. I have never worked with a leadership group as cohesive and complete as this group, their passion for the club, drive to improve themselves and ability to lead by example was a key contributing factor to the success we achieved this year.
Our eight young guns; Chelsea Bartlett, Ella Taylor, Georgia Morgan, Jen Brown, Meg Gibson, Sloan Burton, Sydney Rafferty and Toni-Marie Smith, rounded out the team. When I remember that these girls are all eligible to play in the GIGWANL 20U competition in 2021, it puts into perspective their incredible achievements this season. The maturity they all bring to our environment is far beyond their years, their personal drive to achieve the standards that I have set for our program is commendable. I am already excited for 2021 and what these young athletes can achieve.
The unsung heroes of our 2020 squad were our four training partners; Claire Pickerill, Nicola Vester, Sigrid de Vries and Zjana Herangi. Being a training partner is so tough, it’s all the hard work without the glory of putting on the dress on game day. I have been so impressed by our training partners, and hope that being part of the Comets has helped them as much as they have helped the club.
Amy Fuller, the Open Assistant Coach, is a fantastic coach, she complements me very well, and the team loves her style of coaching. There is no way that I could lead the Open team and the Comets club as a whole, without Amy’s support. Her passion and competitiveness is second to none, and we make such a strong coaching partnership.
Sam Morgan, the Open Team Manager, also known as Mumma Sam, is everything you could want in a team manager; she is organised, calm, passionate, confidential and provides excellent post-game recovery food!
Justin Rudolph, our Physiotherapist, keeps our team fit and on the court. I couldn’t ask for anything more, he is a great communicator and an excellent physio. A massive thanks to Justin and Bayswater Physiotherapy.
I’d like to thank the Women’s 20U and the Men’s teams for their efforts this year, both teams also built on their performances in 2020, and were excellent supporters of the Open team during the finals series.
I hope that the Open team has inspired you. As a club, we’ve still got a bit of work to do, but I don’t think we are too far off having all Comets teams making finals, then all Comets teams playing in the Grand Final and winning premierships. It will take hard work, and honest conversations about performance, but I believe that the Comets will become a power club of the GIGWANL competition, and I am confident we are on the right path.
I’d also like to thank the terrific Board and Subcommittee we have at Comets, led by President Nathan Charles. I cannot thank them enough for their volunteer efforts. In particular I’d like to mention our Secretary, Jenny Alexander, anyone else would have been buried under the mountain of paperwork that was required this year, however Jen stayed on top of it, and made sure that each week our Comets teams were set to take the court, thanks Jen.
In addition, a massive thanks to our club sponsors, Curtin University, Hamersley Netball Club, Bayswater Physiotherapy, Victory Athletic, Healthway with the LiveLighter message and the Insurance Commission of Western Australia with the Belt up message. Your support makes it financially viable for our club to enter the GIGWANL. Thanks for being on the journey with us.
Lastly, thanks to all the parents, partners, family and friends who support the Comets. Behind every athlete, coach or sports administrator there is an army of supporters whose unwavering love and support means that we can make the sacrifices required to succeed at the elite level.