While she was the foundation coach of the Thunderbirds and guided their fortunes for eight seasons, Woodlands-Thompson, pictured, found herself barracking against them for the first time in her ANZ Championship involvement.
The reason? She’s now involved with the Mystics as a consultant to coach Debbie Fuller.
Plus, she’s about to step up her involvement with the Auckland-based side in the second half of the season working as a specialist coach primarily with their shooters.
Woodlands-Thompson admitted it felt different being involved with a game where she didn’t want Erin Bell to nail any long shots or hoped Maddy Proud would force a turnover.
“I was very much watching the game from a coaching point of view. Deb and I are communicating all the time so I very much had my mind on the job,” Woodlands-Thompson said.
“At the end the game I did feel for the Thunderbirds. They deserve a win at some stage and I’m hoping that they’ll get on the board in the next few weeks.”
When she stepped down from the Thunderbirds role at the end of last season, Woodlands-Thompson departed as the competition’s most successful coach having won 70 of her 114 overall matches in charge including titles in 2010 and 2013.
She accepted a role as the Head of Sport Development and High Performance at Westminster College in Adelaide, where her teaching background would be beneficial.
When Fuller approached her about the possibility to work with the Mystics this season, Woodlands-Thompson jumped at the opportunity.
“I’m blessed to have an opportunity to work with some of the best players in the game like Maria Tutaia, Kayla Cullen, Anna Harrison, Cathrine Tuivaiti,” Woodlands-Thompson said.
“There’s such talent – and emerging talent – in their team. They’ve been incredibly receptive to me.”
Woodlands-Thompson has only sat on the Mystics bench once on match day – against West Coast Fever in Round 2 – but will be courtside this Saturday night in Brisbane when they take on the Queensland Firebirds.
“There’s nothing like game day,” she declared.
Woodlands-Thompson will also return later in the year as assistant to reappointed head coach Jane Searle with Australia’s Fast5 team for the Fast5 Netball World Series, being played in Melbourne on the weekend of October 29-30.
“We’ve learned so much every campaign. We both bring different skill sets to the table and we’ve done pretty well with the groups we’ve had,” Woodlands-Thompson said.
“We’re looking to get some of Australia’s best players involved in this year’s campaign and really confident we can go one better.”
The Fast5 concept has been revived after a hiatus last year and Woodlands-Thompson said she and Searle are excited to be involved with the event coming to Australia for the first time.
They won’t accept anything less than gold this time.
“It’s been such a wonderful event and Netball New Zealand did a great job of hosting it,” Woodlands-Thompson said.
“I’m excited it’s being hosted in Melbourne. I think it’s the perfect place to get it going again and I believe it’s only to take the tournament to another level.”
Fan packages are on sale and visit the website to view ticket package information. General tickets will be released in September.