Just over a week after being selected for the ANZ Championship Pulse netball squad for 2016, Year 13 Sacred Heart Girls’ College, New Plymouth defender Kate Wells is still on cloud nine.
“I feel pretty lucky to have been selected,” she told College Sport Media, “it was a major surprise as I never thought anything would come from our open trial last week. It’s a massive shock!”
Kate and two other players, mid-courter Samon Nathan, and another 17-year-old, shooter Blaze Leslie from Australia, were chosen from a trial in Palmerston North last week as the three development players in the 12-player Pulse squad for the 2016 ANZ Championship
There were 58 hopefuls from throughout the Netball Central Zone at the one-day trial, all gunning for the three spots available.
This week Kate is back in Palmerston North representing Sacred Heart Girls’ College at the Lower North Island Secondary School tournament. In a couple of months she will travel to Wellington for an initial induction and fitness testing before joining the Pulse squad early in the New Year for 2016 ANZ Championship pre-season training.
Kate is one of three current schoolgirls in next year’s Pulse squad, alongside Australian based shooter Blaze Leslie and Mount Albert Grammar School shooter Maia Wilson.
From the Sunshine Coast but with strong New Zealand connections, Leslie has played all her age-grade netball in Queensland, while Wilson recently became the youngest player to trial for the Silver Ferns and has already played basketball for the New Zealand Tall Ferns.
At 1.76 m, Kate has been described as an attacking defender by Pulse Head Coach Tania Dearns.
“I have observed Kate over the past year, she reads play well and when on attack is a strong distributor through court,” Dearns told the Pulse’s website last week. “Her training ethic for a young player is fantastic, with her fitness results and statistics from our trial a real stand out for me. I look forward to seeing what she can do within our environment.”
Kate said she is comfortable with a change in position in the Pulse environment. “I normally play circle defence for my school team but I am going to be pushed out into wing defence and centre for the Pulse.”
Has she played with or against any of her new team mates before? “I don’t think I have played against any of the other squad members before, which is kind of frightening because I know they are so good. But definitely [captain] Katrina Grant and [mid-courter] Chelsea Pitman would be the two players I most admire.”
Kate said that she’s been playing netball all her life. “I have been playing for Taranaki age-grade teams since I was about seven, and then last year I played for the Taranaki A team which competes at the Lion Foundation tournament. There are lots of good players at that tournament, so that is the highest level that I have ever played at so far.”
She has been a member of the Sacred Heart Senior A netball team for the last three years, competing in Taranaki’s Premier 1 competition. She explained that Sacred Heart Girl’s College and New Plymouth Girls’ High School have a healthy rivalry which she enjoys.
“We’ve beaten them twice so far this year in our Taranaki competition and they’ve beaten us once in a non-competition match, so we have a good rivalry with them.”
Kate is pleased to be flying the flag for her province. “There have been a few ANZ Championship players from Taranaki, but hopefully we can get a few more of in the next few years.”
Whilst netball is now her main priority, Kate said she also used to be a surf lifesaver and a basketballer. “I now play social basketball with my friends and we’ve won two titles, which is pretty cool.”
Kate’s granddad played rugby for Waikato, whilst she said both her mother and sister have both been good all-round sportspeople as well.
The shift to Wellington means a change in plans for Kate. “I was going to go to AUT and study communications and journalism, but I also applied to study at Massey University in Wellington and I will hopefully pursue that along with my netball.”
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