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Iona Darroch Blog (23rd Jan 2019)

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Iona Darroch joins the team writing a special Netball Show blog

The start of pre-season feels like ages ago now! Back in September was when we first came together as the Stars 2018/19 squad. There’s been lots of changes at Stars this year with some players moving to different teams and exciting new faces being brought in to the squad. I was reunited with my Northern buddy Lucy and also Paige and Hali from England futures. It’s been great to get to know Georgia and Cara as well, although I don’t stand too close to Georgia because she make me look tiny! Everyone worked super hard in pre-season and head coach Sam Bird has made sure we are in good shape for the season! A particular pre-season highlight for me was playing in the Fast5. The atmosphere in the Copper box was incredible and the day allowed us to have lots of fun, cover ourselves in blue paint and glitter and play some fast paced netball. Plus I got to play with Ash Braz! I may have fan girled a bit (not as much as Paige though).

There’s a very positive vibe in camp, lots of laughs and banter but still the hard work and intensity to train. If you hadn’t heard it was ‘Hug a ginger day’ last Saturday so the whole team was challenged to show Shona some love without her noticing…we succeeded! On a scarier note baby Beth has passed her driving test and someone tells me she’s only one year older than Becky Oatley’s car!

The start to the season has been slightly frustrating looking at our first two results, no one likes losing! Both games were very closely contested and although a lot to work on, there was a lot of positive stuff too. I thought in the Pulse game our Jamaican super Star Jodi-Ann had an awesome game, turning ball over for fun and Cara made a huge difference coming in to our attacking end. Against Loughborough Georgia’s shooting was next level and Sammy Cook at GD executed some lovely long range passes in to the circle! I’m really looking forward to a tough week of training so we can build on our performance leading into our first ever home game at Gloucester!

For me this year has been a bit different as it has been my first year in the Roses programme, so I spent most of my time between August – January in Loughborough along with my Stars teammate, Jodie Gibson. Being around and training with some of the world’s best, especially off the back of a Commonwealth gold has been a huge learning curve and a great opportunity for me! I grew up watching the likes of Serena Guthrie, Sasha Corbin and Jade Clarke, so to be able to learn from them and be part of that training environment has developed me as a player and person hugely.

I was lucky to enough to be coached by Tracey a few times when I was part of the Manchester Thunder NPL squad, so it’s great to have her and Collette coaching me again! It’s very intense at times, pushing yourself and team mates to exhaustion in world class pressure sessions, drilling set plays and working hard in the gym; but it has also been a good laugh, building relationships over endless brunches at Bombom (an incredible cafe in Loughborough). I think me and George have gone through all the Harry Potter films in the evenings! Getting lots of match play opportunities with England A and U21s has been a great experience too. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be part of the programme in such an exciting year for netball and women’s sport.

Alongside my netball I am studying illustration at the University of Worcester. It’s nice to take a break from training and do something completely different. I’ve always been a keen artist, drawing painting and creating was normal for me growing up at home so being able to study in something that I enjoy so much is a privilege. The course at Worcester is exciting and challenges me to develop my own ideas. I’m a very messy worker so as long as I keep the mess in my room, my house mates are fine. But I do often turn up to training with paint on me somewhere! Balancing uni and netball can be a juggling act at times, but I love both so wouldn’t change what I do.

Back to training now and getting ready for the next Stars game on the 25th of January!

Follow Iona’s season @iona_darroch on twitter 
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