Introducing Panther Grace Taylor
To give context to Graces journey we asked Head Coach Bec Stower to write some words on our new Panther and her memories
I remember so clearly the day of the Cubs trials 5 Years ago when Grace was only 12. It's funny how moments just stick in your head.
Grace was a tiny little pipsqueak so full of energy, but I need to emphasise the word "tiny". When her name wasn't called out for the Cubs squad, her mum bought her over to me to ask for feedback. Grace was bawling her eyes out, but Mum was really lovely and they just wanted to know what Grace needed to work on. I gave my feedback, gave her a cuddle and said keep at it and come back next year.
I felt like from that moment Grace was everywhere! At every development session, every clinic.....her parents were just so supportive of this little bundle of energy, this little kid from the Lockyer Valley.
Grace was such a hard worker, and a sponge always asking for feedback and what could she do to be better.
Fast forward a couple of years, Grace still seems to be everywhere. Seeking any development opportunity available.
I am not going to fluff around this. Grace in my opinion is what you call a late developer. Not so tiny anymore, but arms and legs for days. It has taken some time for her to grow into them.
When Grace trialed for Panthers this year, my first thought was a spot for her in Futures. But as the trial went on, I'm thinking this kid could actually be a training partner. In my head, that's where I had her pegged.
Working through pre-season, I was so impressed with Graces work ethic and her commitment to our squad. Her positive attitude, grateful to be a part of this, reminds me why I do what I do.
Grace had the opportunity to take the court in Round 5. All I can say is Wow. She did absolutely everything I had asked of her. I can absolutely say with certainty she is a player of our future.
Grace is the poster girl for resilience and perseverance. A lot of credit needs to go to her kind, supportive parents to just be there for this little pipsqueak who loved netball and wanted to be better. Mark and Fiona just took her to what they could, never complained, supported her through knock backs and were by her side when she kept coming back.
Moral of this long story: There is a place for everyone in netball. There are also so many opportunities for extra development. And most importantly, the door never closes. Our eyes are always wide open as coaches and selectors, to follow the journeys of our early developers, and late developers. It's what you are prepared to put in that will determine your outcome. Positive parent support is also so important. Our hearts break for our kids when they miss out, or sit on sidelines.....but at the end of the day, how we react will reflect on them, and their decision on what they do
So now you know the background lets hear from Grace herself
I’m Grace Taylor and this is my first year in Panthers. I am currently in year 10 at Downlands College. I started playing netball when I was eight with my Gatton State School friends in the LVNA Saturday competition, coached by Mrs Ruthenburg and Mrs Vaughn. A few years later I started playing for LVNA inter-district rep side coached by Janelle Samuelson and later by Meg Englart. I trialed for the Cubs team when I was in grade six. When I didn’t make the team, I was pretty upset because I really wanted it, but I guess that just gave me more motivation for the following year. I made the Cubs City team for the next two years and although I was still happy with my achievement, I really wanted to make the Cubs Academy team. I worked hard and went to as many Panthers development sessions as I possibly could. In grade nine I finally made the Cubs Academy team and another highlight for me was when I made the Darling Downs schoolgirls U15s team, which I believe really boosted my confidence. This year I trialed for Panthers and I made the team and I was very happy with what I had accomplished.
I played my first game for Panthers last Sunday against Thunder; I was very overwhelmed. I was starting at Wing Defence, but I was excited and ‘ready to rumble’. I’d never played in such a fast game of netball and because the quarters were longer than I would usually play on a Wednesday night game it was a struggle to keep up, especially when I’m used to playing GK and get a longer period to rest and regain my energy. Second quarter I moved to GD. I tried my best to hold the shooter out of the circle and do as practiced during the last training session we’d had. My most important key concepts throughout my GD game were to position myself in front of the player, between her and the ball to avoid contact and gain easy position to go for the ball. I also needed to use half of the goal circle switching players when required with the GK, Shay Maloney, who is very good at talking inside the goal circle as she is very experienced and lets me know what’s going on behind me during a game, which is what I need to work on. The positive feedback I received after the game was really encouraging and has fired me up to continue working hard at Panthers.
My weeks consist of training on most afternoons or mornings and travelling home on the bus after school. I love to sleep a lot, so late nights and early mornings mean I struggle to get out of my warm bed. It only takes 30 minutes to drive to Toowoomba, however the bus trip to my school takes roughly 1:15 minutes every morning so I spend this time on study and homework, to stay on top of my school work. I wouldn’t have it any other way however, the opportunities and friends Downlands College has provided me with, makes me look forward to school. I played in the Merci Chevalier Cup this year which has been one of my favourite netball memories so far. This is a competition held annually between St Ursula’s College and Downlands College (we currently have possession of the cup).
I have been super lucky to have a supportive family such as mine, and I really don’t remember either of my parents missing a game. They sometimes even argue over who will pick me up from training. Without their support I wouldn’t be able to play for Panthers or go to school in Toowoomba, and I am very thankful for the many opportunities they have given me.
Playing for Panthers requires some sacrifices and a lot of hard work and determination, but running onto the court in front of a home crowd as they call your name, is an amazing feeling. I wouldn’t be playing for Panthers today if it wasn’t for the amazing coaching I have had throughout the Darling Downs Cubs over the years.