Volunteering in sport gave Taylah Kirker an outlet to do what she loved when her body refused to let her play.
Two years ago, the Nayland College pupil had just been talent-identified by New Zealand touch rugby, when a sudden netball accident changed her sporting landscape.
While on court, the 18-year-old suffered a prolapsed disc in her back, an injury which has taken a long time to come right.
Always a keen volunteer, Taylah used the recovery time to increase her volunteer work with her school, as well as touch and netball.
Her efforts have seen her recognised with a Tasman Secondary School Sports Award for her contribution to sport and on Thursday she flies to Auckland after being nominated for the New Zealand Netball youth volunteer of the year award.
“It’s a big honour to be nominated for an award like this,” Taylah says. “I don’t think anyone ever volunteers to be up for awards, but it’s exciting.
Over her time, Taylah has coached and played netball, acted as a DJ, dressed up as a giant squirrel, babysat kids whose parents were getting back into sport, run fundraising events, helped out at school holiday programmes and also umpired netball.
She also helps run weekly touch rugby and has been a key part of sport at Nayland.
All not bad for someone who is related to new Silver Ferns standout Te Paea Selby-Rickit.
“I was always down at the netball courts from a young age and I’ve always enjoyed being part of things.”
Taylah admits spare time has been lacking at times but she wouldn’t change the way she gets involved in the community.
She plans to attend Canterbury University next year where she will study mental health science after toying with the idea of going to New Zealand Broadcasting School.
“I have a passion for Maori and Pasifika and I chose this (route) because I think I’ll really enjoy studying it.”
Taylah says everyone should give up some of their spare time to the community as the rewards are worth it.
She says the people she has met and experiences she’s had have made the sacrifice worth it.
“I’d encourage everyone to get involved in the community around them.”
Taylah says moving away from Nelson will be challenging, but she is looking forward to prioritising her studies and having time to adjust to a new city and lifestyle.
“It’s been a big part of my life but sport is what I’ve always been passionate about.
“When I move down (to Christchurch) I think I’ll focus more on my studies initially but sport is a good way to meet people.”