Introducing your Suncorp Super Netball umpires

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With the launch of Suncorp Super Netball last week, Netball Australia has announced the pool of 11 umpires for the inaugural season.

Rachael Ayre (ACT), Helen George (NSW), Michelle Phippard (NSW), Clare McCabe (NSW), Kate Wright (VIC), Marc Henning (VIC), Joshua Bowring (TAS), Tara Warner (NSW), Bronwen Adams (NSW), Emma Davey (NSW) and James Matthews (VIC), have all been named.

Rachael Ayre (ACT)

How long have you been an umpire?
I started umpiring locally when I was 12.

How did you begin umpiring?
My mum was an umpire, she taught me everything I needed to know to obtain my C Badge in 1993.

What does your training involve?
Strength, muscular endurance, speed & agility, functional core and flexibility.

What are you most excited about with the new league?
I am excited to have an all Australian competition again.

What is the most rewarding aspect of umpiring?
Being a part of a game with such great role-models for young girls. Our elite players truly are outstanding women and I have the utmost respect for each and every one of them.

What makes you strive to umpire at this level?
I’m all about continuous improvement. The day I stop learning is the day I hang up the whistle.

What do you do outside umpiring?
I am a Fitness Professional – Group Fitness, PT and lecturing in Fitness.

Helen George (NSW)

How long have you been an umpire?
Too long to count, I started umpiring when I was 12.

How did you begin umpiring?
I wanted to coach however my mum wouldn’t let me until I had learnt the rules. I loved it from the start. Thanks Mum.

What does your training involve?
Fitness, strength and agility are an important base and umpiring skills practice.

What are you most excited about with the new league?
Every year the players get stronger, fitter and improve their skills. I have no doubt this year will be no exception to that and I always enjoy the challenge of every game I umpire.

What is the most rewarding aspect of umpiring?
Being able to let the players display their skills within the rules of the game. They can do some amazing things out there and I’m regularly in awe of what they can do. I love being a part of that in some small way.

What makes you strive to umpire at this level?
Always wanting to be better and improve, I love umpiring.

What do you do outside umpiring?
I am mother of 2, Max who is 6 and Zoe who is 2, I also own and run a Motel with my husband Rob on the South coast of NSW.

Michelle Phippard (NSW)

How long have you been an umpire?
I started at the age of 12… so quite a long time! I received my All Australia badge in 1998 and my international award in 2001, so I have been umpiring at the elite level for almost 20 years.

How did you begin umpiring?
My club required all junior players to “have a go” at umpiring, and that was how I got started. What kept me going was the challenge of reading the game and applying the rules, in a way that enhances the contest and allows the players to reach their full potential.

What does your training involve?
Strength training to build power and prevent injury; specific running training to develop speed, agility and endurance; swimming and yoga for recovery. Attending team trainings and practice matches. Sports psychology sessions. Performance analysis (video, self-review, discussion with coaches).

What are you most excited about with the new league?
Super Netball represents another step forward in the evolution of Australian Netball, and it is a real honour to be a part of it. think the most exciting aspect is seeing how it will all unfold with new players, coaches and team combinations coming together.

What is the most rewarding aspect of umpiring?
Feeling that your involvement has made a match better – for the players and as a spectacle. Earning the trust and respect of players and coaches at this level.

What makes you strive to umpire at this level?
The desire for continual self-improvement – and wanting to make a positive contribution to the sport I love.

What do you do outside umpiring?
I am a lawyer, specialising in international administrative law, and work on contract with the World Health Organization.

Clare McCabe (NSW)

How long have you been an umpire?
Since I was 8.

How did you begin umpiring?
My Mum’s team needed an umpire while they were training, so I started then. I kept umpiring while I was also coaching and playing before concentrating on umpiring solely once I retired from playing.

What does your training involve?
Generally 2-3 strength and conditioning sessions a week, running and pilates and swimming for recovery.

What are you most excited about with the new league?
There will be more opportunities for umpires here nationally and this is a great news for the development pathways of umpires in Australia.

What is the most rewarding aspect of umpiring?
Working and communicating with the coaches, players and other umpires to enable fairness and consistency for all players so they can showcase their skills and abilities.

What makes you strive to umpire at this level?
A passion for this fabulous sport and a desire to always keep learning and improving and challenging myself.

What do you do outside umpiring?
I work in Human Resources and am passionate about leadership development and working with business leaders coaching and supporting their personal development. Outside of that, I love travelling, music and riding my horses.

Kate Wright (VIC)

How long have you been an umpire?
Since I was 11!

How did you begin umpiring?
I started to support my club as they needed umpires on a Saturday.  Then kept umpiring through my teens so I didn’t have to give up playing to get a part time job.  My inspiration has always been the players.  I love the game and letting players ‘push the boundaries’ to see what they are truly capable of individually and as a team, within the rules.

What does your training involve?
I work with a PT for power and strength work and to make sure any niggles are ironed out.  Then individually, I do sprint work and HIIT workouts, plus yoga and Pilates.  I train 6 days a week and some days twice a day depending on my game load.  I also continue to play for fun and because it helps my timing on court and appreciation of what the players are experiencing, albeit at a much lower level!  For the off-season, I am enjoying running, riding, swimming and waterskiing – just for the fun of it, without any goal in mind.  It makes a nice change.

What are you most excited about with the new league?
New line ups and working with new talent – players, coaches and umpires.

What is the most rewarding aspect of umpiring?
The friendships that have been made with like-minded people from all over the world.

What makes you strive to umpire at this level?
The opportunity to step out and umpire players with truly amazing skills in matches that are so intense it is difficult to explain.  And whilst all of this is going on, you strive for that “perfect game” – the one when you step off and know that you have got it all 100% right (ahh…one day).  In the meantime, every single match is an opportunity to improve.

What do you do outside umpiring?
I work in Bid Management and Communications.  Most of this work is helping companies to respond to large tenders to provide services that government and corporations outsource.  It’s “deadline city” and requires careful management around netball.  But no project is ever the same and I get to work with different teams all the time which is very rewarding, especially when they win.

Marc Henning (VIC)

How long have you been an umpire?
15 years. I began umpiring in 2002.

How did you begin umpiring?
I was introduced to umpiring by Maureen Lambert, previous All-Australia candidate. Maureen and I worked together and I would always be asking her questions about rules. From this Maureen suggested I start umpiring, so I did.

What does your training involve?
Weight sessions focusing on strength and endurance. RPM classes for non-impact cardio and FUN!

What are you most excited about with the new league?
Suncorp Super Netball will provide more on court opportunities for our umpiring pool. It is always exciting to umpire to world’s best players.

What is the most rewarding aspect of umpiring?
I really enjoy interacting with players in the training environment and being approachable to have honest and frank discussions. I believe this fosters better on court relationships and respect between players and umpires.

What makes you strive to umpire at this level?
The life of any elite athlete/official is time limited. My goal is to make the most of the amazing opportunities being presented to me and thrive in this environment.

Joshua Bowring (TAS)

How long have you been an umpire?
Since I was 15; so around 12 years.

How did you begin umpiring?
My mother was very involved with the sport and I naturally grew up around the game. One particular social game, an umpire didn’t show up and my umpiring journey started at the moment.

What does your training involve?
Agility, power and speed work (short, sharp drills and lots of sprints) and strength and conditioning sessions to build muscular endurance through the legs and core.

What are you most excited about with the new league?
The athletes being recognised as the elite and professional sportspeople they are. That netball will be showcased at its very best every week on home soil.

What is the most rewarding aspect of umpiring?
Being out there for the athletes and just contributing in a positive way to the overall game itself. To allow the athletes to showcase their skill and ability in a way that is congruent with the rules of our game.

What makes you strive to umpire at this level?
The personal challenges that are presented week in, week out – there’s always something you can improve on. To be the very best I can possibly be, not only with my on-court performance but my off court behaviours and ethic.

What do you do outside umpiring?
Personal trainer.

Tara Warner (NSW)

How long have you been an umpire?
Since I was 12.

How did you begin umpiring?
The association I was a part of at that time required an umpire. I wanted to earn some pocket money for myself and as a player I wanted to get to know the rules a little better. I put forward my interest to the local umpire convener and haven’t looked back since.

What does your training involve?
Working 50 hour weeks you have to fit in training wherever you can. I do a lot of team activities like AFL, bootcamp and netball.

What are you most excited about with the new league?
I know this new league is something Netball Australia has been working hard for and it’s exciting to see it flourish in 2017. I’m most excited to see our sport continue to grow, setting benchmarks for women’s sport and allowing our dedicated players the opportunity to call themselves full-time professional athletes.

What is the most rewarding aspect of umpiring?
Being allowed the opportunity to umpire the best netball athletes in the world. It’s a privilege to walk out on court each week and say I did that, I was a small part of that.

What makes you strive to umpire at this level?
The passion I have for netball, the pride I have in what I do and the pressure we all place on ourselves to perform. I believe the players work so hard to be able to do their best week in and week out and as an umpire we should be doing the same.

What do you do outside umpiring?
Accountant.

Bronwen Adams (NSW)

How long have you been an umpire?
Since I was 12 years old… Which means over 20 years.

How did you begin umpiring?
I played first, and at our club most players also umpired. I just continued because I generally enjoyed it, and the real love for it grew from there.

What does your training involve?
Interval training and power work, with a specific focus on sprint and agility training. Running for relaxation, Yoga for balance. As much on court time as possible.

What are you most excited about with the new league?
There is a real buzz around Suncorp Super Netball, it’s an exciting time to be involved at this level. With the additional teams comes a greater opportunity to be on the court, doing what we love to do.

What is the most rewarding aspect of umpiring?
The great thing about our game is the ability to be a part of it in many ways – it’s so accessible. Being involved at this level is gratifying enough through the challenges and opportunities it presents, but giving back at grass roots level by teaching and coaching umpires and watching their confidence grow, is incredibly rewarding.

What makes you strive to umpire at this level?
Elite level is the ultimate test of both mind and body, it’s a continual challenge to be able to facilitate a fair environment where the top players in the world can best showcase their ability.

What do you do outside umpiring?
I work in the magic of television.

Emma Davey (NSW)

How long have you been an umpire?
I have been an umpire for 15 years.

How did you begin umpiring?
I began umpiring with my best friends. We all played in the same netball team and our families were very involved in the sport. We spent most of the day at netball and my association offered umpire development courses so I just went along and discovered that I enjoyed it!

What does your training involve?
I attend outdoor fitness sessions and court sessions to practice particular skills. I also enjoy dancing and swimming.

What are you most excited about with the new league?
I am excited for a new challenge and to be a part of a league that is going to expand passion for the sport within the community.

What is the most rewarding aspect of umpiring?
The most rewarding aspect of umpiring is being part of such a highly skilled and fast paced game. Being part of the game and being there when a player does something out of the ordinary that they have worked so hard to achieve is a great privilege.

What makes you strive to umpire at this level?
The excitement of what is next excites me. The fact that every game is so different makes me strive to continue to improve and umpire at this level.

What do you do outside umpiring?
I am a primary school teacher at MLC School.

James Matthews (VIC)

How long have you been an umpire?
9 years

How did you begin umpiring?
I started as a player, however thought long term it would be a great way to stay involved in the sport.

What does your training involve?
Surprisingly, a lot of off court training – not just umpiring the games. When having to make so many decisions and non-decisions in such quick succession, it’s important to be both mentally and physically capable of performing at such a high level.

What are you most excited about with the new league?
Having, possibly, the best seat in the house to witness some of the greatest netball athletes showcase our amazing sport at ‘that’ next level.

What is the most rewarding aspect of umpiring?
Being able to positively contribute to the development of the sport and being able to work closely with the netball fraternity to continue to see our game grow and achieve great things.

What makes you strive to umpire at this level?
Personally, the motivation to umpire in Suncorp Super Netball is being able to fulfil my passion for the sport and to be involved in a ground-breaking movement for netball. We are extremely lucky to have the calibre of umpires we do within the competition and being able to be part of such a talented pool of umpires is motivation enough.

What do you do outside umpiring?
I work in Corporate Real Estate, although I’m around netball so much I consider my full-time job the second job sometimes!