AS Caitlin Bassett’s 27th goal of the 2011 Netball World Cup Final fell through the net, Chelsea Pitman looked across to the Australian bench and saw her teammates jumping up and down for joy.
It quickly dawned on Pitman, pictured right, that was the moment the Diamonds had claimed the world championship in another classic against New Zealand and her emotions spilled over inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“I ran straight to C-Bass (Bassett) and Nat (Medhurst) and was jumping around like an absolute nut,” Pitman said of her reaction following Australia’s extra-time 58-57 win over the Silver Ferns.
“I am not a crying type of person but the emotions overwhelmed me and I was just bawling my eyes out.
“I went into the tournament happy to be there and any court time I got was just the biggest bonus, but to get on court in that final is a massive highlight in my career.”
Pitman, who played 16 Tests for Australia, described the entire 2011 world championship campaign as “the most amazing experience ever” – from rooming with Mo’onia Gerrard, who took Pitman under her wing as a 16-year-old training with the NSW Swifts, to watching Erin Bell and Kimberlee Green play pranks on unsuspecting teammates in the hotel corridor.
“I can’t remember who they got most, but I think it was Cath (Cox). In the end we always checked around the corners,” Pitman said.
One of the traditions introduced to the Australian team over the years is the team mascot `Thumper’, a stuffed toy kangaroo.
The youngest player in the squad is given the task of making sure `Thumper’ is always by their side during a tournament. In Singapore, that job was Pitman’s – and she took it very seriously.
“I added his funky green Mohawk. If I was to lose `Thumper’ – meaning the girls would try to steal him from my room, training bag or at any time – I would incur a fine at the end of tour.
“So I bought a lock for my backpack and he was always secure. I even slept with him so Mon (Gerrard) didn’t get a chance to steal him.
“The one time I ‘lost’ him was at the Grand Final. After all the screaming and jumping around and hugging my family, I remembered him and he was gone. But a few Aussie fans had my back and told me where he was hiding.
“I even had an Aussie fan make me an outfit for him to wear and they have now become family friends.”
“For her to have the belief in me and select me in the World Cup team without being a capped player made me want to work that little bit harder not to let her down,” Pitman said.
“She had a tough year (in 2011) with injuries to key players in the Diamonds team. Lauren Nourse did her ACL during the (ANZ Championship) season, which left a big hole and speed in the midcourt.
“She mentored me throughout my time with her at Diamonds and gave it to me straight instead of fluffing things up with cotton wool, which I am grateful for because it made me a mentally stronger athlete.”
Every fortnight leading into this year’s Netball World Cup we’ll feature a story from one of Australia’s past campaigns. Stay tuned to netball.com.au for the next installment.