State Age brings back fond memories

A self-described “Netball Nerd”, Sarah Kitcher knows there is more to her favourite sport than just playing. The NSW State representative wears many hats throughout the season, including playing, coaching and umpiring.

The 18-year-old from Grafton will be doing two of the three at the upcoming 2014 Netball NSW State Age Championships, being contested at Illawarra Netball Association and Campbelltown District Netball Association from Saturday 28 to Monday 30 June.

While balancing her duties as Assistant Coach of Grafton’s 15 & Under Division Three side, Kitcher will also be running the sidelines as an umpire during the three days of competition.

“I checked with my Association Grafton to see if I could juggle both, and we’re going to make it work … but it will be a lot of running around on the weekend,” Kitcher laughed.17 Sarah Kitcher 2014 NSW 19s Nationals insert

Kitcher first donned the white and whistle two years ago and has since umpired at both State Age and State Championships on behalf of Grafton. In fact she was supposed to umpire at this year’s State Championships at Campbelltown, however was called into Grafton’s Open side two days before the tournament started.

Not that the defender minded, since playing is her first love; however Kitcher admits there are benefits to be gained by players who try their hand at umpiring and coaching.

“I’ve found umpiring really useful in developing my game, as you understand the rules a lot better. Also as a defender it’s good to be able to quickly adjust to the umpires’ calls. But I’ve definitely found it has helped my own game,” Kitcher said.

Coaching is relatively new to the 18-year-old after younger Grafton players asked her to pass on some of the techniques she had experienced whilst with the 2014 NSW 19/U Team. It is the first time Kitcher had been picked to represent her State, a milestone she said she is very proud of.

“I loved playing for New South Wales. Although Nationals [Netball Championships] was really daunting, it was a great experience to get out on court against some really quality players. Not only that, but the level of training I undertook … I’ve really seen an improvement,” Kitcher explained.

“When I returned to Grafton some of our local coaches and players asked me to help out and pass on anything I’d learned with the NSW 19s. I actually really enjoyed the experience, which led to me taking on the Assistant Coach role.”

While 2015 NSW State Team nominations are in the not-so-distant future, Kitcher will bide her time perfecting her craft – playing State League for and local Club netball at Grafton – the State Age Championships will allow this talented athlete to remember back to her first representative team..

“I was selected in the Grafton 12 & Under team, and played pretty much every year after that. So State Age was where it all began. Now I’ve made my first State Team, I’m really hoping to be selected again in 2015,” Kitcher reflected.

“From there the dream is the ANZ Championship, but I know I’ve got a lot more to do until then. But [at State Age] I will just enjoy it, because that’s what it’s all about – don’t stress, just have fun!”

Netball NSW would like to thank Coast2Coast for their support as an Official Partner of the 2014 State Age Championships.