What most excites you about being back at the Adelaide Thunderbirds?
The opportunity to work with Dan again; he’s such a talented, passionate and genuine coach.
I’m also loving this athlete group – what an exciting and eclectic mix, and the staff are first class. While it’s a challenge to bring such a diverse and specialised group of individuals together, there’s a real buzz about this team’s possibilities at the moment and to see what we can create.
I’m also excited to see our training partners and SA youngsters Gia Abernethy, Charlee Hodges, Emily Burgess and Chelsea Blackman really knocking on the door.
How has elite netball in Australia changed since you were the Adelaide Thunderbirds Head Coach?
The changes from the ANZ Championship to Suncorp Super Netball are subtle on court and more significant off court. The funding and resources available to the team now are much greater, which lends itself to a more defined role for training partners, access to more staff and better financial compensation for all involved.
There are more sessions per week now, which designed well, is good for optimal athletic preparation and development. The style of game is more Aussie vs Aussie as there are no Kiwi teams in this competition. I do miss the challenge and diversity of preparing to play against New Zealand teams, and the New Zealand travel trips were certainly the most memorable. I get my fix though through reconnecting with my old mate Cat Tuivaiti who I had the pleasure of working with at the Northern Mystics in 2016, and having Silver Fern legend Leana de Bruin in my team rather than on the opposition team is awesome.
As far as media profile and public awareness go, I think netball has both been a major part in, and has certainly benefitted from, the current wave of support and engagement with women’s sport across the country. The arrival of AFLW in 2017 made everyone sit up and take notice and the camaraderie between women’s sporting codes is wonderful. The Adelaide Thunderbirds have formed a great relationship with the Adelaide Crows Women’s Team and the benefits of this are bountiful.
You coached Kate Shimmin from 2011 – 2015 during your time as Head Coach. How has Kate progressed and grown as a player from when you last coached her?
I’ve always been a Shimmo fan, there’s no two ways about that. She is such a unique talent and a tough, genuine individual who I have so much respect for.
I’ve worked with Kate since she was 15 in some format, and it’s been so rewarding to see her now ‘run with the big dogs’. She’s a senior player now and a strong, independent woman. I think her year in Queensland under one of the toughest 1-0-1 defenders of all time, Rose Jencke, was the break she needed to step out of her home environment, get a different accent and something fresh, and now she returns to where her heart is. I can’t wait to see her team up with de Bruin and Themann and terrorise some shooters this year.
Who are the players in the 2018 team who have surprised you this pre-season?
Bongi Msomi is perhaps one. I’ve never seen anyone run and run and run seemingly without fatigue. She’s amazing! We are fortunate that she has come to Adelaide and will show the competition something different this year. I wouldn’t say there have been too many surprises as this team was selected so very carefully and we knew what we were getting.
Do you have any personal goals for the season, or are the goals all team-based?
It’s all about the team and its successes, however we choose to measure them. As an Assistant Coach, personally my number one priority is to support the Head Coach and be as big a ‘value-add’ as I can to help Dan’s vision for the team materialise.
What are you most looking forward to about the 2018 season?
It’s always game day – nothing beats the competition moment!
You’re now working three jobs (Adelaide Thunderbirds Assistant Coach, Head of Sport Development and High Performance at Westminster School and SANFL Commissioner) – how do you create a work/ life balance?
I’m still figuring that one out! I got a big chunk of my time back when my son, Seb, went to Canada to do year 12 in August last year, so adding up the time taking him to hockey practices and matches, his school and music commitments and supporting him with his Year 12 studies, gives me about 15 hours a week back. Nothing replaces him being here with us, but he’s living his dream and it helps me to keep busy doing the things I love. My other son, Alex, is 21 and largely independent.
I work a large calendar, iPad diary, and paper day diary for daily task lists and try to plan ahead as much as I can. I am a diary nerd and put in my work, netball and football commitments all in different colours with alerts everywhere! I program time in for exercise on my stationary bike and bring my husband and friends along to sports functions, and this counts as life balance for now.
Shout out to all the mums with matchsticks holding their eyes open doing the grand balancing act with pre-schoolers and school-aged kids – it gets easier!
Watch Jane Woodlands-Thompson and fellow assistant coach Jane Searle in action as they support Head Coach Dan Ryan on game day – buy your Adelaide Thunderbirds membership today!