My palms were sweaty. My stomach felt like it was going to release my breakfast all over the table. I was even doing that annoying leg tap thing. I hate that thing! Why was I feeling so nervous? Because I was watching some of my netball idols walk into the stadium. These were players and coaches who had graced my television screen for years, and today was the day I could meet some of them.
Be cool Katrina! I tried to ignore them, play it off like it was no big deal. No! Don’t sing along to the radio, you big weirdo!
“You okay over there?” says Jack, the Firebirds media manager, from two seats away.
“Yeah. I’m good.” I reply casually. Atta-girl!
As they walk out on to the court to warm up, I casually snap a photo or two of them warming up and then another of the coin toss. Then I busily play with my iPad and keyboard - pretending I didn’t just commit a big journalism faux-par by showing I am star struck.
As the game gets underway, I jot down notes in my purple notebook (yes another journalism faux-par – showing my team colours. How biased of me!). As I listen to the conversations going on around me, I am, yet again, awestruck. These people are much more knowledgeable than I am. Phrases like ‘what a great screen she set’ and, ‘a lot going on behind play’ are being tossed around like a family discussion over dinner. I momentarily feel like a fraud. It doesn’t help that I am one of the only ones on the media bench not in a purple Firebirds t-shirt. But I can’t let that distract me. A good writer uses ‘native language’ and ‘jargon’ to give authenticity to their writing. So I write these phrases down too.
By the end of the game on day one, I am feeling comfortable. I remember what those terms mean and can have a fluent conversation with others around me. I go and ask for the stats like I know the people, then just enjoy the moment. I watch the fans mulling around waiting for signatures from their favourite players. I hope my sister gets some of those autographs.
“So, we’re going to grab ‘Hals and Gabi for a quick chat. Do you have anything to ask them?” Jack again with the questions.
“Yeah, I have a few. What are your questions, so that I don’t double-up?”
Look at me go, all kinds of professional
He then rattles off some of the questions. They are pretty generic, but I can build on them. I finally feel like a real journo.
“Do you want me to get anyone from the Vixens? I can’t guarantee that they will say yes, but I can ask”. Since there wasn’t a Super Netball media liaison there, I wasn’t allowed to approach the visiting team to ask questions – but Jack was.
“Ummm, Kate Moloney if you could. Thanks, heaps.”
So, the interviews went ahead. The first person I got to speak with was Kate Moloney, captain of the Melbourne Vixens. My first impression of her was – wow she’s tall! For a centre court player, I was expecting her to be a bit shorter. And what a strong hand-shake!
Then came Gabi Simpson and Mahalia Cassidy, who were also taller than I expected. All three were lovely and happy to talk to me like I was any other reporter. But, by far the best person I spoke to all weekend was Jo Weston, after the game on day two. She answered my questions; then once the official questions were done and the recorder was off, she actually chatted with me! Asked about my job, how I got into it and gave me a little insight into the AIS environment (strictly off the record of course).
But my biggest surprise of the weekend was still to come.
I interviewed the great and highly intimidating Roselee Jencke, and I think I pissed her off!! I didn’t mean to, of course. I just asked a question which she didn’t understand, so I fumbled my way through trying to clarify, and then when she did understand it, I think she was insulted. I got a definite ‘who do you think you are’ vibe from her (for those playing along, I asked why her team seemed to lag behind play defensively). Oh well, can’t make everyone happy with my opinions I guess.
So there you have it, a summary of my first weekend as a netball match reporter for Netball Scoop. Hopefully, as I enter the fray during the Suncorp Super Netball Season, I will start to feel more at home on the media bench. Better get to practising my questions and poker face.
You can read my official report, including responses to my interview questions here, on the Netball Scoop's website.