Valuable lessons from playing against men, in state league
HAVING gained valuable knowledge from playing against men, Ipswich's new coach Nicole Grant has some important priorities for this year's Flyers netball side.
"Keeping the team game fit for the entire four quarters,'' Grant said, listing a key goal after her side's winning start in the 2019 Queensland Premier League SEQ Cup season.
"Keeping the season fun.
"Exposing players to various techniques to continually improve their game and skill set.
"Having 11 players who can do the job each week.''
Such an approach from Grant (nee Cude) will go a long way to keeping the Ipswich team flying high this season.
Preparing for tonight's latest game against Pine Rivers, Grant was encouraged by the Flyers' 55-37 victory over Red-lands last week.
"I thought it was a great start to our season,'' she said, having taken over the head coaching role from Ipswich stalwart Trish McInally.
"We certainly have lots of room for improvement, so with a winning margin of 18 that's very pleasing.''
Watching from the sideline instead of playing, Grant was happy with her team's attitude.
"I was able to try a different combination each quarter and no matter who I had out on court, they all worked hard and transitioned well,'' she said.
Grant stepped up to coach the Flyers with diverse experience as a player and aspiring mentor.
She first coached many years ago when playing for the Goodna Netball Association.
In recent seasons, Grant was assistant coach of the Tier 2 Brisbane West Lions team, now known as the Jets Ruby Series.
Last year, she coached the Western Districts under-13 representative team.
"I obtained my Intermediate coaching certificate this year and I am looking to start my advanced coaching course during the second half of the year,'' she said.
As for why helping the Flyers was so appealing, the former representative player was quick to answer.
"I am very passionate about Ipswich,'' she said.
"I live in Ipswich, work in Ipswich and have represented the region of Ipswich for many years in netball.
"I felt it was time to move into coaching to give back what I have been fortunate enough to be taught over the past 25 or so years.
"The Flyers have a great team and community spirit and are a wonderful bunch of ladies who are keen to play competitive netball and represent their region with pride.''
Grant played representative and State League netball at the Goodna Netball Association until she was 17.
She went on to serve the Brisbane North Cougars, Brisbane West Lions and Toowoomba Panthers before returning to the Lions.
"I was fortunate enough to captain a few of my teams over the years,'' she said.
"I also played and captained the Queensland Suns mixed open team and was picked in the Australian mixed netball side.
"I learnt a lot from playing with and against the men.''
After injuring her ACL in 2012 and having two children, she played for the Flyers for one season before deciding to concentrate on coaching.
"All up I have played netball for around 26 years, and I am now enjoying the challenge of transferring the knowledge, skills and experience I learnt as a player to the next generation of players,'' she said.
Grant said the Flyers' leadership group, featuring Emilie McInally, Melissa Beutel and Tara Bramwell, "really stood up'' in the win over Redlands.
Defending SEQ Cup champions, the Goodna Sapphires, also opened the new season with a comfortable win, overpowering Underwood 86-33.
The Sapphires play Redlands at the same time in tonight's Pool A encounter at the State Netball Centre.
The new Ipswich Vipers Opens team lost their Pool B match 53-26 to Carina. The Vipers play Caboolture tonight.
Players need multiple skills in new format
Nicole Grant was keen to see how the new pool system plays out in this year's Queensland Premier League SEQ Cup competition.
"If you don't finish first or second in your pool you don't go through to the Division One playoffs,'' she said.
"Hopefully the pools are fairly even placed.
"We can't look too far ahead and need to concentrate on each game each week as a loss could be costly overall.''
Both the Ipswich Flyers and Goodna Sapphires are in Pool A under this year's new format. The new Ipswich Vipers team is in Pool B.
As for how that changes her team planning, Grant said versatility was the key.
"We have 11 players, with one being a training partner,'' she said.
"I need all 11 players to be able to come on and play in any position and play a strong game as throughout the season you can have illness and injury affect your team plus we have some girls away for work.
"We can't afford to fall apart because one or two girls are missing.''
State of play
QPL SEQ Cup Rd 2: Tonight (7.50pm) - Goodna Sapphires v Redlands; Ipswich Flyers v Pine Rivers. 6.30pm: Ipswich Vipers v Caboolture Gold.
Rd 1 results: Goodna Sapphires def Underwood 86-33, Ipswich Flyers def Redlands 55-37, Carina def Ipswich Vipers 53-26.