It took finishing a four year NCAA hockey career and almost 20 years of playing competitive hockey for me to fully realize the importance of sports and how hockey (and numerous other sports) have impacted my life and shaped me into who I am today. To say the least, sports are important. Discipline, time management, and team work are just a few of the numerous essential life skills that sports teach you. Some of my best friendships and memories I have made are through sports. Needless to say, I am a firm believer in the power of sports.
One of our first posts on bronze & gold was titled Consilience (Chapter 3) and I talked about how joining an intramural hockey team in Montreal turned a lonely time in my life into a very positive experience. Not surprisingly, I was very keen to find a team to join in Australia- unfortunately, hockey options are slightlyyyyy limited here. I decided my next best option was to try a popular Australian sport to really make my adventure special. After a bit of research, I selected netball. It's one of the most popular sports for girls here and shares some similarities to basketball so I thought my days on the North Dundas b-ball teams might help me pick it up a bit easier. I found a once a week ladies league where I could sign up as an individual and be placed on a team to join and I was all set!
The weekend before my first game, Anthony took me to a local netball court to go over some rules and so I could practice shooting (a netball net has no backboard! Picture just a basketball rim and net). I mistakenly thought our quick half hour lesson would be enough for my first game and I was bound to be the next big netball thing.
How wrong I was. Netball is not simply basketball without a backboard. There are seven positions and your position dictates what section of the court you're allowed to go in. You wear jerseys with your position on in lieu of a number so that the umpires, not referees, can ensure you're not out of bounds. I played Goal Attack for the first three quarters so I was allowed to play in the semi circle around the net (and one of the two people on our team allowed to shoot the ball) and up until the line before our defensive zone. In netball you're not allowed to run with the ball- it's all quick passes so that you can move up the court to get into an open area to shoot the ball. My time on Goal Attack actually went OK minus a few calls for moving my feet when I had the ball which I didn't even realise I was doing.
Things went downhill very quickly when a teammate asked me to swap with her for Goal Defence for the final quarter. A major netball rule is that you can't be within three feet of an opposing player when they have the ball, quite the opposite to hockey and basketball where you need to be on the puck or ball as close and as hard as you can. One of the reasons I played centre in hockey was because I could never stop following the puck. I'm pretty sure the umpires called me on this rule every 10 seconds. I really struggled and have never felt so frustrated playing a sport before.
If you ask anyone who knows me to describe me in one word, I'm pretty sure a strong majority of them would use competitive. Sports are something I have always excelled at and to not be able to just pick one up easily was definitely a strike to my ego. I ended up in tears of pure frustration when Anthony picked me up but once I was over the initial shock I realized how silly I was being. I had my mind set on extreme success in a sport I had never even watched on TV before let alone played and I reminded myself why I had joined the team in the first place. It wasn't for netball glory or to become a professional netballer. It was to maximise my Australian experience and for an extra opportunity to get involved in something new. I encourage everyone to get out of their comfort zone and try something they've never tried before, whether it's a sport, language class, or guitar lessons. You'll grow, challenge your limits, and you never know who you may meet. Round 2 is this Tuesday night. Keep me in your thoughts as I attempt to stay 3 feet away from the player with the ball.
Lots of love,