Just like last summer, the end of the school year and the upcoming summer holidays means more time to train for and play the sports that Parris Mason loves.
The year 10 New Plymouth Girls’ High School student has been nominated for Junior Sportswoman of the Year at the upcoming Taranaki Daily News Secondary School Sports Awards, which is no surprise given her list of achievements in 2017.
Parris’s three chosen sports are netball, basketball and touch, all of which she has represented New Zealand teams in this year.
Hard work and dedication to training, practicing and keeping fit over the 2016/17 summer break, paid off for Parris by making the New Zealand Academy squads and traveling overseas in each of her three sports.
In May, aged 14, Parris toured Fiji with the Aotearoa Maori Netball International Secondary School (AMNISS) team, her sporting highlight so far, as she explains:
“In the trials I was up against girls up to four years older than me. I was pushed out of my comfort zone and soon learnt to grow up and within 24 hours had to pull off some of the best netball I had in me to keep up with these talented players who only two months earlier at a training camp I was idolising them, never imagining I would get to play alongside them.
“We went to Fiji where we won gold – beating Australia [40-28] in the final.”
After regular trips to Auckland attending basketball camps, and twice picking up Player of the Camp awards, Parris made the New Zealand U16 basketball team that travelled to Perth in July that played against the Australian state sides and finished fifth overall.
In September she was with the New Zealand U16 mixed Touch team that toured the Gold Coast. “We played in many modules over there during the day and night. I was named co-captain of the team with another boy being named the boys captain.”
There is plenty coming up for Parris. As well as regular touch modules at home in Taranaki and some trips away with representative touch teams, she recently attended a Netball Central Talent Development Advanced Camp and will go to Cambridge in January to participate in the 60-strong NZSS netball trials camp.
Parris plays goal-keep and goal-defence in netball and as a small forward and sometimes a shooting guard in basketball.
As well as representative success, Parris looks set to be a key member in her school’s sporting teams for the next three years whilst she is at New Plymouth Girls’ High School.
NPGHS hasn’t qualified for December’s touch nationals, while they finished down in 21st of 24 teams at the AA basketball nationals in September. “We were put in a really even pool and lost some close games by just a couple of points so we didn’t finish so well there this year.”
The Senior A netballers had a promising year though.
“We missed out on qualifying for the netball nationals this year by one point. We lost closely to Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt [28-29] at the Lower North Island tournament and if we had beaten them in that game we would have got into nationals.”
Teammates Brooke and Paige Neilson were selected in the LNISS tournament team.
The future bodes well for the NPGHS netballers. “This year I was one of two year 10s in the Senior A netball team, but we had no year 13s. So next year we will have the same team.”
What have been some of the challenges devoting so much time to her sports?
“I have had to deal with 13 coaches across all the codes from school level, regional, national and International level.
“Thankfully fitness testing was similar across all codes and keeping physically and mentally prepared became a huge part in my success. I was fortunate that my coaches were very understanding and even spoke to each other to make sure I could fulfill my achievements at International level. Plus the extra sessions with Hannah Kelly and Trent Adams from Sport Taranaki proved invaluable”
Technically, the change between codes can be challenging. “It’s very easy to move from netball to basketball but I find that moving from basketball to netball is a lot harder because basketball is lot more contact oriented so you get to get away with more stuff but netball is much stricter in that regard,”
“It’s been a big year and I have learnt so much and come such a long way and have enjoyed every step to realizing what it is to be at the top and get to the top and both mean a lot of hard work and time, your natural talent only gets you so far,” concludes Parris.
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