When the Final Whistle Blows
Congratulations to Tigers on their match last night, a very formidable team very deserving of their finish as number 1 going into the finals. We sincerely wish the Top 4 teams all the best in the Finals Series, all quality teams we have been fortunate to test ourselves against in the Ruby competition.
As for the Panthers, I think we had well and truly checked out before the game last night. Every bone is my body willed us to finish strong and proud, but I think off the back of this long and challenging season, we were done. Time for a rest.
When our website man, Graeme Thomas, asked me to write these articles at the start of the season, I was a little reluctant. I asked him would anybody even actually read this stuff. Each week, he would send me a reminder to get my report to him. It’s been very therapeutic to be honest! I have also really appreciated the comments, and private messages I receive letting me know how important these articles have been in getting an understanding and insight into the world of the Panthers and the Darling Downs Region.
So much can be said for the season of the Panthers in 2019. On court, we had some magnificent games, really close games where we pushed for 60 minutes. We also had some very inconsistent games where I wanted to pull my hair out. Our trainings were structured and designed to meet the needs of the week that was. Myself, Kim, Caitlin and Gio spent countless hours planning, researching, discussing, how best to target our conditioning, strength and on court strategies. We challenged ourselves to think outside the box. The team was 100% committed to everything we set out to do. They remained focused, positive and supported each other through the highs and lows. We had six rookies in the team this year, that in itself was a challenge to get them accustomed to the playing and training environment. Those girls took the bull by the horns, and took advantage of every opportunity available with the full support and guidance of the remaining players. Our inner circle, extending to the Future Panthers, was a positive, productive and supported environment for people to grow and express themselves through the sport they love. For myself, I have loved every minute of this season with this group, my coaching and extended team, and the unconditional support of the parents and supporters. They see, and they share the vision of the strong and thriving future of the Panthers.
What more can a coach ask for?
Looking down the barrel to 2020, the Panthers trials will be open slather. All positions will be declared vacant. It’s the way it has always been since I have been coach. No one player is guaranteed a spot. There is always room for movement and opportunity with players relocating for work or university, life changes, and there a whole lot of Futures chomping at the bit for a shot in the squad. I have probably found the toughest age group for retention and focus is the year after they finish school. It’s a tough transition year in general, caught between all that structure through school, to suddenly having the expectation to be an adult. We have lost some, and we have gained some back. Our Cubs and Future Panther programs are stronger than ever, our foundation base keeps building for the future, and I look forward to my continued involvement in these programs.
To any player thinking they could play at this level, I ask you this:
Can you commit to approximately 230 hours of training, strength and extra conditioning, over 30 weeks?
Are you prepared to give back a combined 400 hours of community engagement, in the way of clinics, appearances and Cubs?
Are you prepared to travel to Brisbane each fortnight for your matches once in season?
Most importantly, have you been to a game, and seen with your own eyes, the high level of netball that we compete in, the physical and mental strength required to play at such a level?
This is what it takes to be a Panther. And it is not easy. It’s a whole different level to playing in local competition. Watching the 2019 Panthers rolling back into MEC and QPL this year was hard to watch. It’s very hard to come back down to domestic competitions when you are used to the pace and physicality that Ruby brings. The girls used those competitions for match fitness, playing under minimal pressure for enjoyment and mentoring to the younger players.
If you answered “Yes” to the questions above, and are interested in forming your OWN opinion on our coaching team and Panthers environment, I challenge you to put yourself out there and have a crack, just as our current and former Panthers have. What have you got to lose?