This year the Naenae College Netball team went through a bit of a rebuild.
At the end of last year, we lost a few Year 13 girls who had been pivotal in our team over the last few years. We knew that 2017 would be the year we would introduce a bunch of newbies and try to build them up as much as we would within the season. Going into the season, we had this idea that due to having so many “babies” in the team; we may not perform as well as we have in past years. Boy, were we wrong.
Our new gals really stepped up. You have never seen a group more excited and eager to play in the big leagues. Ever! Getting them to a point of calmness to give instruction at training or before games was often the hardest battle; the energy was at an all-time high. Our first game we went out and won. SUCCESS. This was exactly what we needed. It gave us a sense of self-belief that we did not necessarily have going into the season.
The rest of the season had ups and downs, there were tears, laughter, a few arguments, but never did our support and commitment falter. We managed to place 12th at the ASB Wellington Netball Competition, which was massive for us, and to our surprise, at the end of round robin play; earn a spot in the Premier 2 Division.
The girls came up against some pretty tough competition in the likes of Sacred Heart and HVHS. I think the epitome of our season was being down by 11 against HVHS going into the last quarter. For numerous high school teams it is tough to bring back a margin like that. However, for our girls we took it one minute at a time, and by doing so managed to get it to a draw with two minutes to go. Heartbreakingly, when the final buzzer went, we lost the game by 2; if you looked down at our bench though, you would have thought we won a gold medal of some sort. The girls and coaches were so insanely proud of the efforts during the game that the score line did not matter. We proved we had fight.
Our captain Valerie Taito was a key part in our team success, she wanted to leave a legacy. She lead the team in a way that made each member feel valued and worthy of their time on the court. Val herself also managed to make the Hutt Valley under 19 Netball team, as well as being named the Hutt Valley Premier Netball player of the year. Understandably, Val was named our Player of the Year; and she will be someone we miss dearly next year.
This season was one of the best we have had. Each girl brought something unique to the team and it was so great to see us climbing to new heights and improve after each game and each training. It’s going to be an exciting next few years with these girls moving up the ranks.
Bring on 2018!