Carole Sykes

Throughout 2014, will be interviewing Members of the Netball NSW Alumni to reminisce on the good old days, which for some were longer ago than others!

This profile is with Carole ‘Sykesy’ Sykes, a Netball NSW Hall of Fame Inductee and former player, coach and selector.

What are Carole’s favourite memories of her netballing career? We’re about to find out in our latest Alumni Q&A.

What are your fondest netball memories?
All of the games I coached with Keeley Devery, Sue Kenny and Nicole Cusack just to name a few. They were all so much fun and were a big part of why I enjoyed coaching. All of the Mobil League Premiership wins meant a lot to me (the first in 1991), however in 1995 we were presented with the Prime Minister’s Cup which is still very special to me as well.

Earliest netball memory?
Starting at age 7 at Woollahra Council Playground.

Do you have tips for future netballers?
For the young kids, it doesn’t matter what sport you play – always learn the basics first! Make sure you have a coach that can teach you them properly as it is the most important part in progressing your netball career.

A story?
I was coaching at State Championships in the 80’s and a journalist came up to Keeley Devery as we were walking to our next game and asked “Do you know where your coach is?” she replied with “No, however this little lady behind me [pointing at me] has been following us all day, maybe you could ask her?”. She was very cheeky!!

Do you recall your first uniform and what did it look like?Carol Sykes Alumni Feature insert
It was an all in one tunic with a big “W” on the front for Woollahra. I thought it was pretty cool!

What have you done with all of your past uniforms?
They are tucked away under the house! I also passed a few of them onto Netball NSW for their 50th anniversary which was in 1979 and then also for the 80th anniversary back in 2009.

Big hairstyle craze of your netball career?!
Teased and up in a bun.

What is the biggest thing that has changed in the game since you first played netball?
When I first started, instead of the circle in the middle of the court where the centre pass is taken, there was a straight line around 2m’s long. Each centre had to stand at each end of the line before the whistle was blown. Also the defenders never use to put their arm up over the shot! The shooters had free range at the post.

Do you have any current involvement with netball?
Not really, I stepped down from being a selector last year as to get some fresh blood and thoughts in. It’s nice to know I can now go on holidays or go visit my son in Austria without a second thought.

In saying that, I have been asked by Netball Australia to attend all the NSW Swifts games this year to vote for the 3-2-1 which I was humbled by.

Nine years in the NSW Opens team, five of which in a leadership role, what was your philosophy?
My philosophy was that I just wanted to win. 1969 there were two NSW teams, the one I was in (and Vice Captained) went to the Pesta Sukan Tournament in Singapore and won. With this tournament included I had ten years in the Open NSW team and I am proud to have been able to represent the waratah for a decade.

You were the coach of the NSW Indigenous side which must have been a rewarding experience?
Being able to build relationships with these girls and bring them together over a short period of time. They were very chilled out to start off with however once they really dedicated themselves we won three State of Origin titles together.

What does Netball NSW represent to you?
The Waratah and being number one. Being in the NSW Hall of Fame was also very special to me. Coaching the NSW 17/Us to three straight National Netball Championships were some of my most proudest moments. I love that the NSW culture is built into our netballers from the young representative teams up.

What was one of your highs and lows through netball?
Missing out on 1970 World Championships. I was selected as a training partner, so had to do the whole lead up but missed out on the main trip. It was hard because I was never a really good trainer. The following year I decided to have kids.

The high would be the 17/Us Nationals. It was such a highlight bringing netballers together from all over the place and forming a bond in such a short amount of time.

What was your occupation whilst you played netball?
I worked as a Chartered Accountant whilst pursuing my netball career as player and coach.

Where are you now?
Happily retired. Excited that I can go wherever I want, whenever I want now. I love netball however I will now enjoy my freedom!

Quick Fire Questions:

In my spare time I enjoy – Grandkids

Things I dislike include – Housework

Other sports/hobbies – AFL Tigers.

Favourite Movie – Sound of music.

Favourite TV shows – Cooking shows like Masterchef

Favourite Music – Elvis or Beatles

Favourite Colour – Brown

Favourite Food – Steak and three veg

Dream Job – PE teacher

Which sporting event in the World would
you love to attend
– 2016 Olympics in Rio, 2014 Commonwealth Games in

Most admired sports person and why
Annie Sargeant, the way she went about business. Cool, calm, collected.

If you were a character who would you be
– Miss Piggy

Carol Sykes Alumni Feature

Carole Sykes was speaking with Sharni Layton