The Magic players arrived for training at Tauranga's Aquinas College on Wednesday evening, completely oblivious to the bombshell that was about to be dropped.
It was then that long-standing coach Noeline Taurua let them know she would not be returning to the Waikato-Bay of Plenty franchise next year.
A few tears were shed by the players when the news sunk in, but Magic captain Laura Langman said they were more just stunned by what they'd been told.
"I think it's a timely reminder that your time in one spot is never cemented, that things evolve and not to take things for granted," she said.
"Noels has been the heart and the power and the soul of Magic for quite some time now, and I think her record speaks for itself.
"She certainly stands as a legend among us and we certainly will miss her dearly."
Taurua decided to make her announcement now rather than at the season's end in the hope of making a smoother handover.
When the season finishes in mid-July there is a two-week period before contracting players for the following year begins.
"I want to make this whole period as seamless as possible and to leave the zone as a whole and team in the best possible space that I can," Taurua said.
"This is my 11th year in this environment which is a long time.
"I'm thankful for the support that I've had and the many fantastic people I've been involved with over this time."
The mother of five has no firm plans for the future but will continue with the three-year Coach Accelerant Programme, run by High Performance Sport New Zealand, which she was accepted for this year.
"I am excited by the opportunity of new challenges, to apply these tools of the trade to another environment, be that another sport, business or even another netball setting.
"I haven't really thought too far ahead apart from finishing the season dominantly with Magic and I'm confident opportunities will present in good time."
Langman debuted back in 2003 in Taurua's first year in charge and has still found the coach's words motivating enough to want to come back under her tutelage each season.
"You talk with any player that's had the honour of being coached by her, and no season's ever been the same. She's very, very good at creating and challenging something new."
After taking the Magic through five years of the old National Bank Cup campaign, winning two titles, Taurua took them into the ANZ Championship and is one of just two coaches, along with the Adelaide Thunderbirds' Jane Woodlands-Thompson, to be at the helm since the competition's inception in 2008.
Under her guidance the Magic are the only team to have made the playoffs each season, winning their first title in a fairytale finish last year.
Langman said a real testament of Taurua's coaching was that she had had to "weather some ferocious storms" and took a unique approach.
"For Noels, winning isn't the be all and end all. She's very holistic in her approach to the game and to sport and to life. And I think she gets a lot of pleasure out of seeing people develop, not only as a netballer, but as a person."
Langman said Taurua's announcement could certainly be a motivating factor for the Magic, who are nearly in sudden death territory to make the playoffs.
"Sometimes situations like those really fuse a team together. We had a really solid training week this week so our thoughts are purely on this season and ending it on a high."
Waikato-Bay of Plenty Zone CEO Tim Hamilton said the search for Taurua's replacement would begin immediately.
- Waikato Times
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