Cougars & Elite Accreditation

Cougars had something to play for last night. They are fighting for a finals berth, and needed all 18 points to give them any chance of getting over the line.


We were outclassed by a hungry, well drilled and well coached unit with phenomenal full court defensive pressure. They well and truly had the game won by half time, with the score being 39-20. To our credit, we kept chipping away. We had a much better second half, only going down 29-26. We adjusted our game tried to vary our strategies and not be so predictable. We discussed, we explored and we kept our heads up.


I personally was under my own pump last night. And I think that this may have indirectly affected the team. I know these girls feed off me, I know they wanted to reflect everything that we are in this game. My words to Hein and Caitlin on the way down..... I was “a donkey on edge”!!


Let me explain.


Two years ago I began the process in obtaining my Elite Coaching Accreditation. It has been my vision for a long time to have a Division 1 team from the Darling Downs. There are currently no Elite coaches on the Downs, so I began this process so that when the time comes, we are prepared and can use local.


I spent a weekend in Brisbane working through the theory of the course. It was an awesome opportunity to work with the Firebirds Strength and Conditioning Coach and really gain insight into the planning and the phases of preparation for competition. I spent time with Jenny Brazel (Firebirds Assistant Coach) into strategies, match day preparation and use of statistics. We looked at recovery and the importance of it. Overall a fantastic experience that I could bring back here, start to implement in the Panthers environment and share with other coaches across the Region.


For the past 2 years, I have watched, listened and read just about everything I can get my hands on. The philosophies and principles of coaching are always evolving. I’ve gone to as much of Mia’s stuff as I could, looking like that creeper in the stands taking notes, sneaky little videos of drills, and most importantly, listening to the instruction and feedback by the coaches. I’ve sat behind her bench at games, listened and watched the interactions take place. I watch Suncorp Super Netball religiously, my favourite part is the breaks when I can get even just a small snippet of insight into what the coaches are saying. I love to read articles by coaches in other sports – the NQ Coaching Corner page on Facebook shares heaps of great stuff that I try to read when I get a few minutes.


I think the biggest single factor though leading up to this, is that I talk to my players. I ask them what their thoughts are. I ask them what they are feeling and seeing out there on the court. I self reflect and structure my trainings based on their reflections in their books. I am always learning off them. And I do my utmost to get to know them and understand them.


Last night was my assessment. Two years in the making and a whole lot of preparation. Leigh Gibbs touched base with me prior to the team talk, to check if I had any questions, clarify the assessment criteria and let me know that very rarely does anyone pass on their first go; that I would get some feedback post game that I could go and work on, to fine tune it all to have another crack. In hindsight I think this really relieved the pressure (for five seconds). It changed my mind set that is wasn’t going to be all gloom and doom if I missed out at this time. I looked at it like a learning opportunity. My panel was Roselee Jencke (!!!!!), Leigh Gibbs and Simone Nalatu. Not going to lie, very daunting, but what an amazing opportunity to get feedback and guidance from this wealth of knowledge!


The three ladies with with me in the pre-game talk, behind me each break and time out, and in our post game discussion fervently taking notes. The initial pressure was overwhelming. I just wanted to grab their notepads and see what they were writing. I felt like I was talking too much. I knew in my head what I wanted to say to the girls, at times self doubt crept in and wasn’t sure I could back myself. Lots of thoughts, lots of emotions and very intense. But as the game rolled on, I settled into myself and focused on the task at hand; keeping my girls in this game.


Fast forward to the end. Rose went first. I don’t think I breathed the whole time she was talking. Every bit of feedback was positive. Every bit. It’s really hard to explain, but I felt like she was in my head for the whole experience, seeing what I was seeing and feeling what I was feeling. Simone went next. Again, just really positive and really specific to me. I looked at Leigh. It was a bit of a surreal moment, in my head I’m thinking just hit me with it; I was waiting and prepared for a list of things I needed to go away and work on. She smiled and said “Congratulations”.


Holy moly, a whole weight lifted off my shoulders, I was shocked, I was elated and I just felt proud as punch. I love this sport, I have lived it for such a long time. The label “Elite” wasn’t what I was seeking, it was the affirmation that I am evolving and moving forward as a coach, because I’m bringing it all back here for our players and other coaches. This is what is important, the sharing of knowledge here and having the confidence that we are heading down the right track.


I also need to add how proud I am of our girls. They are respectful, hard working athletes who have embraced this culture we have built, and it was was a proud moment hearing my assessors reflect on this.


Those of you that know me, know I have a very limited personal space. I don’t really like anyone in my bubble. But I tell you what, it was hugs all round last night!!