Hoodoo: Australian captain Laura Geitz trains in Canberra earlier this month ahead of the Diamonds’ quest for an elusive Commonwealth Games gold medal. Photo: Melissa AdamsShe might be the smiling face of Australian netball but she can also put on a brave one.
Laura Geitz, the 27-year-old goalkeeper spearheading the Diamonds’ tilt for a long-awaited Commonwealth Games gold medal in Glasgow, has needed to in a turbulent past 12 months.
This time last year she nearly quit the game, distraught at the death of her father Ross in an accident on his farm at Allora in Queensland’s Darling Downs.
Talked out of premature retirement by her mother, the bad news for Australia’s perennial gold medal rivals New Zealand is that the whole ordeal has made Geitz even more determined.
“In that six months (after his death) you just go along feeling a bit numb and you’re not really too in touch with everything that you’re going through,” Geitz said ahead of the Diamonds’ first pool game against Wales at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre on Thursday.
“But in saying that it puts things in perspective and before losing Dad I probably thought netball was some of the toughest times I’d experienced. It actually gave me a new outlook and I became a lot stronger person for it.”
The Queensland Firebirds and national captain will be joined in Glasgow by a healthy family contingent; her mother, her husband and her husband’s parents. There is an obvious absentee, but the manner that Geitz speaks of her late father gives the impression he will still play a big part in the bid to complete her sporting “bucket list” with a Commonwealth Games gold.
“Anything that I really do now out on the court, I think that Dad is never too far and he’s always looking down on me and helping me to achieve what I need to achieve,” she said.
“I often reflect a lot of what Dad taught me as a person growing up and also an athlete as well. Those thought never stray too far from me, that’s for sure.
“He was probably the most inspirational person that I’ve ever been exposed to. He had a wonderful outlook on life, he was a hard worker and he just treated people well. He was a leader in his own right – he was never an athlete – but in what he did in everyday life, his values and his beliefs were exceptional.
“Obviously as captain of the team I’ve often asked who do I look up to and take advice from and the one person that I always say is Dad in the way that he used to handle situations and always knew what to say. He was the voice of reason and he probably taught me everything that I know to be honest.”
Three months after he walked her down the aisle, to say her father’s sudden passing hit Geitz hard would be an almighty understatement.
Heartbroken, she decided to walk away from the sport in which she made her name, rising from the ranks of the tens of thousands of young girls darting around in pleated skirts on Saturday mornings to lead one of Australia’s most successful sporting teams.
It was only another voice of reason – her mother – that changed her mind.
“When tragedy strikes, and you least expect it, you’re numb and you don’t know what to feel but family has always been a massive part of my life and the priority,” Geitz said. “So for me, after we lost Dad, I needed to go home and be a support to Mum. And as much as I love netball and the girls that I play with, and they are like a second family, it was my family that was the priority.
“But it didn’t take long for Mum to convince me to stay in the game. I remember her saying ‘Dad would want you to do it’. For her it was probably a nice thing in the tough time that she was dealing with – she loves netball and loves the people it allows her to meet – so I think it was probably important for her too that I kept playing.”
It is a good thing for the Diamonds and their coach Lisa Alexander that Geitz took her mother’s advice. She bounced back to lead Australia to a 4-1 win over the Silver Ferns in the Constellation Cup in October and looms as a defensive fort for the Diamonds in a danger pool game against England in Glasgow as well as the medal rounds.
Despite winning everything else under the sun including world championships the Commonwealth Games has been Australia’s Achilles heel, not taking gold since the 2002 event in Manchester.
It is a record Geitz is desperate to correct in Glasgow.,
“There’s a lot of young girls in the team that can’t even remember seeing footage of when Australia won a Commonwealth Games gold,” she said.
“A lot of us were in the extra extra-time game in Delhi where we went down by a goal, so there’s a lot of emotions. It’s definitely a monkey we want to get off our back.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.