Defender Micaela Wilson reflects on her netball journey to the Magpies.
As she gets set to face her former team – the NSW Swifts – on the Saturday night, Magpies netballer Micaela Wilson says she is still trying to prove herself at the highest level.
The versatile defender’s career has journeyed from the Melbourne Vixens to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, across the globe to Scotland, to the Swifts, back to Victoria to play for the North East Blaze, before signing with the biggest sporting club in the nation last year.
Photo: Kiff Emerson
But in her fourth year playing at the national league level, Wilson is ready to take advantage of her opportunity at the Magpies.
“I haven’t had a lot of court time at this level, but that is why I signed the contract at Collingwood,” she told Magpies Netball this week.
“I want to be challenged and to work with some of the best players. I want to prove myself.
“I’m working with April and Sharni everyday to make sure I’m across our game plan and strategy so if the coaches call me up, I’m ready to go.”
Photo: Herald Sun
Working closely with Sharni Layton isn’t anything new to Wilson, after they spent a year playing for the red and white together in 2015.
“Before signing with the Swifts, I joined their squad as an injury replacement player for end of 2014. In 2015, we had a great year as a team, we made the Grand Final but lost to the Queensland Firebirds by one goal in the dying seconds.”
“I loved my time at the Swifts – particularly being coached by Rob Wright – who is a defensive specialist. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a great coach with a great netball mind.
“At the Swifts, I didn’t really get the on court opportunities to develop, but I did learn a lot from Sharni and the other defensive legend in Julie Corletto. I loved working under them. My relationship with Sharni has obviously continued and flourished since coming here.”
Before joining Collingwood, Wilson went back to the Victorian Netball League to play for the North East Blaze Netball Club – where she won the best and fairest award after a standout season last year.
“The Blaze is a really strong club, but it’s been a big transition to join Collingwood. I’m so lucky that I’ve had some consistency since coming here with Kate Upton. She was the head coach at Blaze and now she’s our assistant coach at the Magpies. She’s seen me play and she knows my game, and she knows where I’m at.”
Micaela Wilson played with the DC North East Blaze in the VNL last year. Photo: David Smith
And while she may still be seeking the on-court opportunities to develop her game, Wilson has been able to learn under some of the game’s best defenders – Layton and Corletto at the Swifts, and Geva Mentor and Bianca Chatfield at the Vixens.
“I feel so lucky to have played with those amazing names. They have all been incredible mentors for me in different ways.”
“I admire Sharni for her passion and love of the game. Her commitment is second to none.
“Julie – for her court smarts and how hard she goes at the ball. It was unbelievable to see her meticulous preparation off the court.
“Bianca was amazing as that holistic, level-headed leader that she is. She instilled having that work-life balance in me.
“Geva was a lot of fun. She was always playing pranks and keeping it light around the club. She’s an amazing defender and I loved learning off her.”
After a whirlwind three years, which included playing with the Vixens, winning a silver medal at the 2013 World Youth Cup and studying at the AIS in Canberra, Wilson took some time away off from the game.
Photo: Kiff Emerson
“I just needed a break and felt I wanted to find my feet outside of netball a little bit.”
“I took 2014 off and studied for my degree full-time. I spent some time at home with my partner and family. It was great – it just rejuvenated me.
“Looking back, I’m so happy I made that decision. I was able to freshen up both physically and mentally and that’s led to me loving life at the Magpies now.”
Off the court, Wilson is a qualified primary school teacher.
“I’m really passionate about the youth. I love working with kids and being a mentor on and off the court to them.
“I’m also hoping to do some relief teaching post-season and put my degree – which took six years to finish – to good use. I know life isn’t all about netball, so I enjoy having other parts of my life to my put energy into.”
Family is a big part of Wilson’s life, and many would be surprised to know that she’s cousins with Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray.
“He’s been a massive support for me and my career.”
“Our schedules make it difficult to see each other often, but we catch up over Christmas with our families.
“When we play the Thunderbirds in round 14, he’s coming along to watch which will be great!”
And while finals draws closer, Wilson says her team’s focus must be on the upcoming game against the Swifts.
“They really challenged us the last time we played them. We have to bring our A game. We have to put out a really consistent performance.”
“We just need to play to our game plan. We’ve got it. We know it. We got caught up in the pace of the Lightning last weekend. The Swifts are a younger, enthusiastic side. They may try to force the pace as well, so we just need to be level headed, show composure and get off to a really strong start.”
Magpies Netball take on the NSW Swifts on Saturday 13th May at Hisense Arena from 7pm.