Thrust into the limelight earlier than expected, teenaged Central Pulse shooter Maia Wilson isn’t about to rest on her laurels after delivering an eye-catching first round ANZ Championship netball debut.
With the experienced Jodi Brown ruled out for the season through injury, the rookie had big shoes to fill but won plenty of admirers with her composure in a tight one-goal win over Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in the opening round.
With the daunting challenge of playing defending champions, the Queensland Firebirds in Brisbane on Monday in Round 2, and the prospect of squaring off against arguably the world’s best goalkeeper in Laura Geitz, Wilson is not getting ahead of herself.
"I just need to focus on what my strengths are, game by game, day by day, training by training and not get caught up in all the hype that’s floating around,’’ she said.
The baby of the team at just 18, Wilson came to the Pulse with an enviable sporting pedigree where she excelled in netball and basketball but straight out of school, making the necessary adjustment has been significant.
"I’ve never physically pushed my body this hard before and pre-season was definitely a tough one for me but now I’m getting out on court, it’s been so rewarding, so the hard work is paying off,’’ she said.
"But that doesn’t mean I stop here, it just means I need to keep pushing through and continue to do the extra yards in training and stuff like that.’’
Joining the Pulse also meant Wilson making the move away from family and her home city of Auckland to the Capital but she has taken it all in her stride without a backward glance.
Flatting with fellow Pulse youngsters Kate Wells and Blaze Leslie, Wilson has also taken on some part-time university study, with the view to creating a more balanced life and time away from netball.
"I’ve enjoyed the move down to Wellington,’’ she said. ``Personally, it was exactly what I needed….a different environment to what I was used to. Getting away from family and friends was definitely hard but I needed a bit of independence and being fully immersed in netball life down here has just been amazing.
"I’m definitely living the dream. I never thought I’d be given this opportunity and to get out (on court) on Monday was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.
"Apart from my debut with the Tall Ferns (New Zealand women’s basketball team), this is definitely second on the list. I’m very honoured and grateful for this opportunity and hopefully more comes my way.’’
Making her Tall Ferns debut at the tender age of 16 and last year becoming the youngest-ever Silver Ferns trialist, Wilson has enjoyed success at a young age but retains a level-headed outlook.
Finding a ready-made new family with the Pulse, the 1.89m shooter knows because of her age and newness of the team, the season won’t all be plain sailing but is grateful for the help offered by the senior players and in particular, the sideline influence of Brown.
"I think there are going to be ups and downs in any team, whether you’re top of the table or bottom of the table,’’ she said.
"You’re going to have great times and you’re going to have some that aren’t that great but it comes down to how resilient you are and the actions you do outside of those instances that produces a really good team, and that’s what we want to be.’’
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