Grammar talent scores top goal
A trio of Mt Albert Grammar's talented young netballers has been plucked straight from the classroom into next year's trans-Tasman league.
Students Nadia Loveday, 18, and Jamie-Lee Price, 16, the daughter of Australian rugby league legend Steve Price, will occupy two development spots with the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic.
Fellow classmate Erikana Pedersen, 18, is taking up a spot with the Northern Mystics.
Mt Albert Grammar co-coach and former Silver Fern Te Aroha Keenan says it's unusual to come across three young players of this calibre.
"They're a one in a million situation to be honest."
New Zealand squad sizes have increased from 12 to 14 this year with the new development spots aimed at fostering young talent.
Magic assistant coach Tanya Dearns says youthful new recruits Price and Loveday have been selected to build depth for the future.
"In recent years, Magic has probably struggled with finding a consistent depth. There's been a lot of work done in the last couple of years to build that depth and raise the levels.
"The plan is to keep building on that and we believe that will happen with this group."
Price says having the chance to play alongside some of netball's biggest names is nerve-wracking but having the support of her sportsman father helps.
Former Warriors rugby league star Steve Price says he is excited for his daughter.
"I can't wait to see her improve on and off the court - I believe that Magic's a great place to do that."
Pedersen will be joining Mt Albert Grammar's first premier netball captain Maria Tutaia with the Auckland-based Northern Mystics.
The Silver Fern is thrilled to have one of Mt Albert Grammar's latest netball talents join her on the team, Keenan says.
The students' selection comes after helping Mt Albert Grammar dominate the New Zealand Secondary School netball season and securing the team an impressive win in the grand final.
It's all down to a lot of hard work, Loveday says.
"Over time we've realised that you do have to work that bit harder, especially coming off injuries and to look after your body and manage everything.
"Sometimes it's harder emotionally and I think that's the side of sport that some people don't see."
The young athletes are determined not to let the experience overwhelm them, Pedersen says.
"Yeah, the experience is really good but I just want to challenge myself and the people who are in my position because I want to be on that court in the future."
And Keenan has no reservations that they'll get there.
"Both co-coach Paula Smith and I are really proud that these girls have gone on to achieve this and we'll be ‘yahooing' when they take to the court. It could be this year it might be next season but I know that that they'll do their school proud."
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