Chatting with Elite Netball Ambassador Natalie Haythornthwaite
February is the month of love, it’s a time to cherish those around us and the activities we love doing, which for us means one thing – yup you guessed it – it’s time to celebrate our love of netball! We’ve asked some of our coaches and brand ambassadors about their netball journey – how they got into the game and what playing netball has taught them. We start with England Roses and NSW Swifts player Natalie Haythornthwaite.
What’s your earliest netball memory?
My earliest netball memory is back when I was in primary school, at the weekend I used to watch my mum play on the netball court at my primary school with all the other mums. I thought it was so cool that my mum was playing this awesome game with all her friends, and I just wanted to do the same. So, she took me along to a netball fun day with my two sisters, and when we got there (bearing in mind we are from a small village) we were the only people there! The amazing lady running the day, Mrs. T, made sure the day went ahead with just the three of us and it was AMAZING. It’s safe to say I’ve been in love with the game ever since.
Who inspired you to chase your netball dream?
I have been lucky enough to have so many people inspire me to get to where I am today. My parents have been with me since day one, supporting my aspirations to play for England. I will be forever in their debt for all the hours they spent driving me up and down the country for training and matches as well as so many other things. They went above and beyond to help and support me, and still do today – even if it means them getting up at 1 am or 4 am to watch my games over in Australia! I am so lucky to have them.
What has netball taught you?
Netball has taught me a lot, life goes by pretty quickly nowadays, but when you take time to reflect and look back, I am so thankful for the life lessons. It has allowed me to develop the skills to work as part of a team, to be hardworking, to be resilient when in the face of adversity, to sometimes take a leap of faith and see where your journey may take you, and to trust the process – one step at a time. Many skills I’ve developed through netball are transferable into everyday life and life after netball.
If you weren’t a netballer, what would you do?
Sports wise – probably athletics, when I was younger netball and athletics were my two favourite sports.
But I also went to University and got a degree in Linguistics & Phonetics, and then went on to study Speech Therapy – I loved it! So, one day, I hope to go back into that area helping patients recover and rehabilitate on the Stroke wards.
What’s your favourite netball moment to date?
I feel like there have been many big netball moments I would love to re-live and I am super grateful for all of them; the first time winning the Netball Superleague in the UK with Wasps and then backing that up the year after. Winning the league out in Australia with the Swifts in 2019 has to be up there too, but I’m going to have to go with the Commonwealth Games Gold Medal match in 2018. Being part of that team was INCREDIBLE, and winning the gold medal was just an amazing feeling – I get goosebumps every time I talk about it, the feelings are so tactile still.
Any pre-game superstitions you can’t drop?
I don’t really think I have any, or maybe I just don’t realise I do? Not quite superstitions I would say but I have a routine I quite like to go through on game day and it all starts with a good night’s sleep the night before!
And finally, what would you say to your ten-year-old self in relation to life goals and netball?
I would tell her to enjoy every moment, have fun playing the game and take more time to reflect and look back on how far she’s come. I’d tell myself “well done” more for making it through a big week of training and managing to get all my schoolwork done at the same time. Enjoy the game, trust the process and most importantly, be kind to yourself.
Follow Natalie on Instagram and keep up to date with her England Roses and NSW Swifts adventures.