Mia Stower 2019 Gala Speech

When my mum asked me, well, actually told me I was doing a speech tonight I wasn’t very happy because I really don’t love public speaking. I asked my mum what I should talk about considering most of you know how my journey in netball has gone so far. So she told me to talk about this year. Why I went to Cougars, the difference between being a starting player or a bench player and what I learnt from that.

As some of you may know I played for the Brisbane North Cougars in the Hart Sapphire Series. They are a very competitive side who never settle for less than top 4, well actually less than top 2. My team has a lot of experience; 5 of us played for QLD Fusion, 2 for NT Storm and 3 quality Division 1 players. As it was a new competition with new teams, there was options to talk to the coaches of any one of the eight teams. After talking to mum about it, I gave Liz White a call. Liz is the Head coach for Cougars and has been for nearly 20 years. A lot of people asked me why I went to Cougars when they already had two quality shooters, one a training partner for Firebirds and the other a training partner for Lightening. I told them I went for the coach.

Liz, well she wasn’t as “scary” as my mum portrayed her but that is probably because she is a little bit older, maybe more mellowed now. Liz coaches a lot like mum, which I liked because I was used to that. She was hard both physically and mentally. She pushed me past my comfort zone. She questioned me a lot, asking why I would make that decision, and what should I of done instead? Every training got harder and harder (if that’s even possible). So hard we would have to hint that we were thirsty because she would forget to give us a drink break and when she gave us one we hadn’t even picked up our water bottles yet and she was already starting the next drill. So if there one thing you guys should appreciate is that my mum gives plenty of drink breaks. I was never bored at training, she always had new drills that constantly had us thinking and learning more. Aside from my mum, Liz has been the best coach for me so far.

I won’t lie, it was tough coming into the team knowing that I was the third shooter. One of my other coaches said to me, ‘Mia, you do realise that you would be the starting GA in nearly any other Sapphire team?’ This didn’t matter to me. I wanted to learn more and I wanted to work for my position on court.

Most of you wouldn’t know this but last year I really struggled. I had moved out of home straight from school. I was living in Brisbane and I was training for both Nationals, Lynx and my first year of Fusion. After having a pretty rocky nationals, I had lost confidence in my shooting and went from starting in Lynx to sitting the bench. Fusion, I was the baby. I was only named for one game out of the 16 games which honestly was quite hard. I just wanted to be back home with my family and friends. I didn’t realise how hard taking the next step was. The second half of the year I had an ankle injury which kept me out of the game for over 5 months. So I guess, what I learnt from having this injury was how much I actually love the game and I would do anything to get back on court.

Coming back to this year, this was my main focus. I wanted to work hard and prove myself again. My mum said that Liz would be the perfect coach for me and she would get me back on track. She wasn’t wrong. Liz is awesome. She never told me how good I played or how amazing I was. She always had something for me to improve on. Even though sometimes I know she was happy with my game even if she didn’t like to show it. Sometimes just that tap on the backside was all I needed to know she was happy with me.

It’s different, the mentality, from being a starter to coming on off the bench. Sitting the bench is hard, which you all would know. And if you haven’t experienced it, you will. I guarantee it. I worked super hard in pre-season showing Liz that I am just as good as the other two shooters. Surprisingly, I was given quite a lot of court time. I never started but I became her “impact player” when the games got tough. I learnt that sitting the bench isn’t all bad. It can actually be quite valuable. I was able to analyse my defender, this way I knew what I had to do if I got the opportunity to get on court. Before I would take the court I would always say to myself… what have I got to lose? Just enjoy it!   This is why we play isn’t it? Because we love the game. Whenever I got the opportunity I played my heart out. Not going to lie there were still plenty of nerves, especially because of Liz. She can be quite scary if you don’t do your job on court. So yes, sitting the bench is not all that bad it is actually really important because if someone isn’t performing then it is your job to get on that court and prove to your coach why they should have started with you.

Because of this experience. My confidence is back. I had my best year of netball and most of all I enjoyed it. I honestly cannot wait for 2020 and what it has in stall for me.

I hope from me sharing this with you, you can realise just how important it is to choose the right coach, look at the big picture as it’s not always necessarily the “now”, it’s about you becoming the best you can be, and to be a great team member, as it is just as important to be a starting player, as it is an impact player coming off the bench…….all 10 players contribute to the team results.