How Lucy's sporting versatility helps Jets target top spot
WHEN she works most weekends, Jets attacking weapon Lucy Benjamin has to perform some juggling acts to pursue her Sapphire Series commitments this season.
However, with a supportive boss and flexible approach, Benjamin is fulfilling her netball goals.
Benjamin is employed as an events and communication co-ordinator for Rowing Queensland, an enjoyable role that involves regular travel around the state.
Despite those demands, she's managed to be a Jets regular in this year's inaugural Sapphire Series, sharing in her team's latest 61-44 victory over Thunder.
That pleasing performance was the Jets' fifth win from six games. The victory kept the Jets within striking distance of the competition-leading Cougars, who have five wins and one draw.
But when Jets games on are Saturday - as is the case this weekend - she has to arrange a regatta swap to line up for her team.
While she may not be able to make the Jets trip to Mackay later this season, Benjamin was glad she can line up for the Tigers in Saturday's 3.40pm clash at the Queensland State Netball Centre.
She's been granted time off and will miss this weekend's girls regatta at Wyaralong Dam to help the Jets push for top spot.
"It's more important that I'm back for the Tigers game than it is to go to Mackay,'' she said.
"Tigers are a more formidable opponent for us.''
Benjamin, 29, regularly has events to run on Saturdays, which require extra preparation on Fridays.
"I rarely get a night at home because of travelling, being away for work and then training most nights,'' she said. "But I make it work.''
She said being involved with a state sporting organisation like rowing for three and a half years was hugely beneficial.
"Working in sports is really good if you are playing sport because you have an understanding of what you need . . . and everyone is flexible,'' Benjamin said.
"My boss is very flexible . . . you find a way.
"Having a netball knowledge and having a sport knowledge coming into Rowing Queensland really helps.
"It helps me bring a different perspective into the sport here. But then having a good knowledge of rowing now helps me kind of understand a few different aspects of netball as well.''
Although predominantly a goal shooter, Benjamin accepted the challenge of head coach Tracey Jeanes-Fraser to do more goal attack work in Sunday's game.
"Tracey has been trying to move me out a little bit . . . she's trying to take me out of my comfort zone,'' the busy netballer said.
"It was something different in teaching an old dog new tricks.''
Benjamin previously played five years with the Brisbane West Lions, having started her netball career at a young age with Western Districts and at Kenmore.
The Jets opportunity gave her a new direction, with some familiar assistance from people like Queensland Fusion coach Jeanes-Fraser.
"I love it,'' she said, happy to stay in the region.
"I was a bit unsure with the different players, different coaches coming in but Tracey has coached me before and I know what she expects from her players so that was a positive coming in.
"And also the girls that I've played with . . . so we have a really strong combination there.''
In the Jets latest game, Benjamin said her team didn't take Thunder for granted knowing the potential they had, especially in defence.
Having prepared well with specific training, the Jets built a first-quarter advantage before working hard for another important win.
"It just took us a little bit to settle in,'' Benjamin said. "We weren't really composed in what we were doing and we were making some poor decisions in attack.
"But then in the second quarter, we really settled in, just started to play more consistently implementing the plan we had in place for that game.''
With third-placed QUT (86 points) losing to the Bulls Sharks at the weekend, the Jets (101) and Cougars (109) have broken clear at the top of the table.
The Jets Ruby South team also maintained second spot after beating Thunder 62-41 on Sunday.
The Jets Rubies (103) are just one point behind the Tigers preparing for their showdown with the competition leaders on Saturday afternoon.
State of play
Sapphire Series Rd 7: Jets def Thunder 61-44.
Next match: Saturday (3.40pm) v Tigers.
Ruby South Series Rd 7: Jets def Thunder 62-41.
Next match: Saturday (5.30pm) v Tigers.
Both games at the Queensland State Netball Centre.