WHILE most teachers would recommend a quiet, private and well-lit desk as the ideal for productive homework and study, Maddy Balson’s “desk” more often than not involves strapping on a head torch in the back of the car. But when you’re an elite netballer and studying in year 11, you do what you have to.
Balson, 16, started playing Saturday morning netball in grade two, judging from the family photo albums.
While she can’t remember what prompted her to pick up a ball, her mother also enjoyed playing netball so she figures that was a factor.
Besides playing for her MLC school team, the teenager plays for the Victorian under-17 team and the Boroondara Genesis under-19s and is an invitee for the Australian under-17s.
Balson spends up to eight hours on the court each week, including Wednesday night matches at the State Netball Hockey Centre in Parkville.
It’s on the drive home to Canterbury that she tackles her homework.
Balson recently returned from a week in Launceston where Victoria came second in the national netball championships. Next on the agenda is a four-day Australian Institute of Sport national development camp.
She says teamwork is the most enjoyable part of the game.
“I love making new friends but I also love the feeling of working perfectly together as a team and to make the most of what we have to win … and come off the court knowing we have done the best we could,” she says.
Balson is goalkeeper but sometimes wishes she was at the other end of the court amid the action.
“I am tall and have great reach over the ball so I bring height into the goal circle,” she says.
“I can jump really high and have quick feet and good reflexes.”
Balson used to play basketball as well but had to let it go because of time commitments and risks associated with the sport.
“I still do high jump and hurdles for school sport, which I love,” she says. “But netball is the only sport I am truly made for.”