While the Mainland Tactix were in town to play the Central Pulse in the ANZ Championship game at Saxton Stadium on Sunday night, Weekly netball reporter Carol Cook met up with the only local in the team. Despite rolling her ankle two days before the game, Zoe Walker still made the trip to her home town and took Carol through a week in the life of a professional netballer.
Saturday, May 3: The Tactix travelled to Brisbane to play the Queensland Firebirds. The team arrived at 2pm and, after checking into their hotel, they had a refreshing wind – down walk along the beach before dinner and bed.
After breakfast, the team did their “walk through” at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre. The girls then went for a drive and enjoyed a coffee. Lunch was followed by a rest period which is up to the individual – a wee nap, a chill out or maybe straighten your hair!
Then there is the pre-match food, which resembles a second brekkie, and toasted sandwiches.
The all-important strapping is next on the check list. Although the Tactix did not come out on the right side of the ledger, losing 52-69, there were some great periods of play and they did outscore the Firebirds in the third stanza.
Monday: While the usual plan of attack is an early flight home, they didn’t actually leave until 6pm. So after a team debrief the players had free time, where the girls caught up with family, did a wee bit of shopping at the mall or just chilled out at the beach, before regrouping for the flight home which touched down at 11.30pm
Tuesday: The girls had the luxury of a sleep in, before heading in for a light weights session followed by pilates, yoga and stretching, so they could continue their recovery. Zoe had a massage – legs and lower back before heading home to cook dinner. Zoe flats with team mate Nicola Mackel and a male friend. And Zoe “thinks” she picked up her books for a bit of study in the evening. Zoe is studying Applied Science through Otago Polytechnic and does the maximum two papers allowed during the season.
Wednesday: Training is 9am – 12pm, with Zoe arriving at 8.30am in time to get her strapping done. It’s a netball session – to work on what came out of the debrief, how to improve for the next game. Coach Leigh Gibbs, constantly asks her players what worked, what went wrong, what needs to be done which gives the players the responsibility for some decisions. Then there is the “Honey Badger” portion of training – hard core conditioning, tough, specific, short sharp stuff, jumping, lunging, body on body. Zoe went to work at Wax Glow, a candle factory who allow Zoe to fit in work around her netball commitments.
Thursday: Sees a heavier weights session when they train from 4-7pm where they look to learn from Wednesday and put into a game scenario. They view footage of their next opposition, where they look for where they are most vulnerable, most strong, common themes in play.
Thursday wasn’t a good training for Zoe as she rolled her ankle which may be season ending. The physio was on hand to quickly assess the situation, and it is she who books appointments with doctors and specialists.
Friday: A day spent dealing with her injury, with most of the morning with medical team. Friday is a “self directed day” – if your body is tired or you have any “niggles” you might choose to do a pool session, or a light bike session. If you feel the need you might have a hard-core bike session. It is very much a case of being honest with yourself and where you are at. On Friday Zoe and team mate Hayley Saunders went out for lunch and bit of retail therapy, which helps any girl get over a disappointing injury!
Saturday: The Tactix team flew to Nelson Saturday morning and had a great coffee at the Oxford Street Cafe, before heading to Saxton Courts for signings with Nelson’s young fans. Then it was back to the hotel for lunch before training at Nelson College for Girls’ Alison McAlpine Health & Fitness Centre from 3-5pm. Zoe was given a pass to stay at her parents’ home (she would have been with the team had she not been injured) where she received a whole lot of lovin’ from proud parents Jenny and John.