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All about Alyssa!
I’ve been umpiring since I was 13 at Castlemaine and District Netball Association. I started as soon as I was allowed to, as I wanted the extra pocket money!
I play for White Hills in the Heathcote Football Netball League, however I umpire for a range of different clubs in the area on my bye rounds and extra days.
I am a part of the Victorian Netball League squad and have been for about 4-5 years now.
I started from the very bottom age groups at Castlemaine and District Netball Association under my first mentor Maree McCallum. From umpiring the under 11’s, I gained a lot of knowledge about the rules and how umpires actually get around the netball court. After a while my interest in umpiring increased and I wanted to continue challenging myself by umpiring senior netballers.
I am a primary school teacher so my work/life balance can be quite tricky at times, especially during report writing! Being organised by using a schedule and prioritising tasks really helps.
I use a calendar and a whole heap of check lists, and my week is also fairly similar each week. I have certain days that are allocated for my sport, training, work and social days.
The elite level can be quite intimidating, exciting and challenging all in one. I get nervous each VNL game that I umpire, however I thoroughly enjoy the challenge to improve my skills and increase my knowledge of the rules.
My umpiring pre-season usually starts at the end of October when state trials commence. We have the opportunity to check out the new player talent coming through, whilst continuing to work on our skills as well. During November- December we usually start our fitness testing and from there we receive our fitness plans to complete during the off season.
We usually come back as a squad around February, where we do a lot of team trainings and preseason matches most weekends and during the week. I have been fortunate enough to have had some amazing experiences umpiring Vic state teams, Victorian Netball League clubs and even the Collingwood Magpies trainings.
Along with on court trainings, we also have education sessions to go through expectations, rule changes and umpire discussions. This year we have had Zoom webinars with Suncorp Netball umpires and umpire coaches. It was fantastic to be able to have an insight to their lives and to tap into their knowledge bank on how they prepare and analyse their performances.
Before we commence the VNL season, we complete an Individual Umpire Development Plan, in which we set individual goals (on court performance and physical development) to work on during the season. Umpiring VNL, we are allocated matches mostly in Melbourne, with a few matches in regional cities.
After umpiring our matches, we review our performances with umpire coaches. I particularly love working with the VNL umpire coaches, their feedback is invaluable. We also have the opportunity to do further self-analysis through game day videos.
I think the biggest difference I found from umpiring local netball to VNL is the professionalism and high expectations. Gone are the days where umpires can just rock up to a match, umpire and leave.
There is definitely much more emphasis on our preparation and review process. It makes us more accountable with how we prepare for our games, self-monitor and review our individual performance and goals.
The biggest struggles I face is travel. Sometimes I get home from VNL matches after 1:30am and have to wake up at 6:30 that morning to be ready for work so it can be quite exhausting some days.
I overcome the struggles of travel by having a good music playlist or reviewing my game with my fellow travel buddies. I’ve had a lot of fantastic conversations about particular calls I made or didn’t make, and discussions about interesting rules or situations that occur during our games.
- Say yes to every opportunity that you are offered
- Commit and be prepared to work hard
- Show persistence and courage when things are tough
- Listen and learn from opportunities that arise.