Turning netball dreams into Diamonds with Laura Geitz30 Dec 2017 by Fiona Self
With an estimated one million players nationwide, netball is the most popular sport in Australia and making it to the international level is a feat most only dream of achieving.
According to GC2018 Ambassador Laura Geitz, there’s one thing the best players have in common: resilience.
“I think when you look at a lot of the girls that have played netball for Australia, they’ve all overcome some pretty challenging times in their careers or early on in their lives,” Geitz told GC2018.com.
“A lot of the girls copped flack at school for being tall and standing out, and probably their self-confidence in a way was dinted at the beginning.
"I think it’s those challenges sometimes, or even those failures, plant the seed of motivation that make these girls realise that they want to do something really purposeful and they want to be part of something that’s incredible.”
With over 50 test caps to her name, the former Australian captain is one of the greats, and she’s played alongside some incredible players on the world stage.
It makes her uniquely qualified to comment on what it takes to be a champion of the sport that has shaped the childhood sporting careers of so many across the world.
“I think that if you profiled all the girls that have ever gone to a Commonwealth Games, they all mention or at some point in time have missed out on a team or have experienced a real challenge and I think that’s exceptionally important to experience in your career moving forward,” she said.
The 30-year-old defender knows a thing or two about resilience. Geitz has experienced incredible highs throughout her career, including back-to-back national championships, two World Cup wins and a Commonwealth Games gold, but she’s also felt the lows.
During her first Commonwealth Games campaign in Delhi in 2010, the team lost to New Zealand in double extra-time; the longest ever official game of netball recorded at 84 minutes.
Four years later, Geitz captained the Australian team to redemption, getting the better of New Zealand in the gold medal match and breaking the nation’s 12-year drought at the Commonwealth Games.
Geitz has learned some big lessons throughout her 10-year international career, one being that success and failure are all matters of perspective.
It’s the single piece of advice she wishes she could go back and tell her younger self, when she was climbing her way through the ranks in Queensland country town, Allora.
“The one thing I have learned is the challenges and the failures are actually just as important as the good times and the victories,” she said.
“It’s about turning your mindset into, this has happened for a reason, I might not know why at this present time, but further down the track when you reflect you realise it has happened for a reason and there’s a very valuable lesson that’s come out of it.
“I think that’s probably the one thing that I always say to young girls who are disappointed about missing out. It’s part of the journey and it’s about looking at it as though it’s a good thing and I’m going to learn from this.”
As well as resilience, the importance of discipline and sacrifice was instilled in Geitz from a young age, and she knows that the sport isn’t a solo endeavour.
Geitz is frank about the sacrifices involved, not just for the athlete, but family as well. Ultimately, the life of an athlete demands a degree of selfishness.
“I think an athlete has to realise that you are a selfish person in a way because it’s all about you and what you’ve set out to achieve and realistically you will do anything that you have to do to get to where you want to be,” she said.
“You have to have a very understanding family, you have to have a very supportive family and you have to realise that there’s going to be milestone events and special times that you’re not able to be a part of because you might be away playing overseas or you might have a game that weekend or you might just have training.
“Discipline and sacrifice I think are probably one part of the game that’s embedded into you from the very, very early days and you just accept it.”
As Geitz aims for GC2018 selection, she’s got the support of a new family member, her son Barney. Geitz gave birth to Barney in February 2017 and she’s training as hard as she can to give herself the best chance at GC2018 selection.
Her GC2018 hopes are now in the hands of the Australian coaching staff, but becoming a mum has shaped Geitz’s perspective of what it means to be an athlete.
“Your sport has always been your life but all of a sudden I think when things don’t go to plan you just look at your little fella and think oh, this is what really matters,” she said.
“And your perspective does change, I suppose you take a little pressure off yourself in a way and I think that’s what I’m really enjoying, just a relaxed approach to the sport.
“I feel very lucky to have experienced and been a part of the things that I have been with netball. I think it is really important to continue to challenge yourself and even though Barney’s far too young to understand what I’m doing I hope he looks back on my career and is proud of me for giving it a crack post-having him.”