Firstly, congratulations to all ASPIRE Program participants that recently represented their region in the NSW Academy Games! What an event –I hope you all learned a lot and had heaps of fun.
The ASPIRE Program has been back underway since January, with both ASPIRE Netball and ASPIRE Strive in full swing.
ASPIRE Netball has returned with some very enthusiastic athletes. It’s great to be able to work with returning athletes and help take their game to the next level, but it’s also great to welcome a brand new group of 14 year old athletes who are just starting on their journey through the Hunter Academy of Sport Netball pathway.
It’s a huge achievement to be selected in the Greater Bank Hunter Academy of Sport Netball Squad and undergo ASPIRE Netball training, even if it’s your first, second or third year. It provides an opportunity for athletes to learn and practice in a high performance environment.
So far in 2019, we’ve come together for two ASPIRE Netball sessions and the excitement and intensity has been through the roof. For the 14 year-olds in the program, it’s all new and they certainly want to show what they can do. They’re like sponges, soaking in every little bit of information they can. For me, it’s exciting to show them the intensity they can reach and be able to do basic skills well against players who are just as good as you if not better. I can see them being challenged and loving every minute of the environment. I think some of them are still a little star-struck and quiet, but l have no doubt as the program progresses this will change very quickly.
The thing l am most proud of is that 22 out of the 24 athletes selected into the Hunter Academy of Sport Under 14’s Netball Squad have taken part in the ASPIRE Development Program at their local association. This proves to me that the ASPIRE Program is yielding real results, and it makes me excited for the year ahead.
The Hunter Academy Under 15/16’s Netball Squad have some fresh new faces and also many returning athletes. Sammie, Maddi and Zoe have been selected as part of the Regional Netball NSW Squad from their performances at State Selection Trials, and as part of the ASPIRE Netball program. Sammie, Emrah, Maddi, Zoe and Abbie were recently selected into the Hunter CHS Schools Netball team alongside Charli, Kyra, Claire and Erin – all graduates of ASPIRE Netball.
Aspire is an amazing program to be apart of. I love working closely with Sam to better my netball not only on the court but also off the court. It has given me so many incredible opportunities and skills that l will take with me forever. Im so excited for our next sessions and what the future holds for Aspire. I am so thankful to be apart of such an amazing program.
ASPIRE Netball Participant.
ASPIRE Strive is a program made up of athletes who are 14-17 years old, who are on the fringe of being selected for the Hunter Academy of Sport Netball Squad, or recent graduates of this squad. Over 100 athletes applied for a position in the program in 2019, showing their passion for netball and the want to be better. Due to the high standard of applications, we increased the intake number from 40 to 53 athletes, giving as many as possible the opportunity to be a part of this year’s program.
We train together in the elite facilities of Hunter Sports High once a month. There are very few indoor netball courts in the Hunter Region, so my athletes and I are very grateful to the School for allowing the girls to train in their brand new netball facility. It’s important for the athletes to train on indoor floor boards, hopefully reducing the likelihood of injuries.
So far, we’ve had three sessions in 2019 and the improvement from the athletes is already showing. The chance to train alongside athletes who, like themselves, are hungry for a challenge is really bringing the best out of my girls.
Our next ASPIRE Strive session will be a specialist session. Learning from myself and two other elite players, the girls will get the change to pick our brains for tips and knowledge to add to their game. The girls are excited by each ASPIRE Strive session, however, l know this will be a favourite.
During weeks that we don’t come together for ASPIRE Strive sessions, l offer mentoring to all program participants. It’s a chance for me to offer guidance or help in any aspect of their life, on or off the court. I give them activities on goal setting, resilience, life balance, receiving and learning from feedback, and more. There is so much going on in the lives of these young athletes, and as someone who has been in their position, l think it’s important to be there for them.
I love being apart of the Aspire program with Sam. She is such a talented netball player with so much knowledge to give. This program has given me the opportunity to make new friends and have closer bonds with girls from different Associations. As well as advice from Sam, aspire gives me the opportunity to learn form the girls around me. I love forward to every training session with Sam because the aspire environment is so supportive and happy and it also offers me lots of new challenges and opportunities.
ASPIRE Strive Participant.