WEEK after week last year, Reinga Bloxham experienced the highs of being a professional sporting coach.
The Southern Steel delivered 20 straight wins in what was a remarkable rookie season as a netball head coach for Bloxham.
On May 30 this year she was provided a glimpse of the other side of being in charge of a professional sporting outfit.
The Steel was thumped 71-40 by the Central Pulse in Porirua – a low point in the Steel’s decade-long existence.
“As a coach, and the players as well, we were all very disappointed with that. We were disappointed with what we delivered in the game.
“The players doubted themselves and I doubted what I had done before that game,” Bloxham said.
On Monday night in Invercargill, Bloxham and her Steel team was provided an opportunity for redemption. In front of a passionate home crowd, the Steel grabbed that opportunity with both hands.
Steel banked a hard-fought 51-47 win over the Pulse which has the Invercargill-based team sitting outright second in the ANZ Premiership standings.
“I was delighted with that performance,” Bloxham said.
“We have been scrapping through getting the wins, but we knew we were better than that. It was good to see the girls with a smile on their face and enjoying it.”
One of the standout aspects to the victory over the Pulse on Monday night was the performance in the defensive circle.
The experienced Te Huinga Selby-Rickit produced a player-of-the-match showing, while Steel newbie Courtney Elliott again impressed.
Elliott was a late addition to the Steel set-up this season after Jamaican import Malysha Kelly suffered a season-ending injury during the preseason.
The defender caught the eye of Bloxham while playing for the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, as a training partner from its Beko League team, at a preseason tournament.
Bloxham was thrilled with how Elliott had fitted into the Steel set-up.
“We haven’t had the luxury of having a preseason together. Courtney has done a great job coming in and stepping up. [Selby-Rickit] and Courtney did a wonderful job [against the Pulse].”
Next up for the Steel is the Magic on Monday night in Hamilton.
Bloxham said the task now was to string two strong performances together in a row.
Meanwhile, Southern Steel has teamed up with the cervical screening team at the Southern District Health Board to encourage women to have a regular smear test.
Through posters featuring Southern Steel players Wendy Frew, Selby-Rickit and Abby Erwood, the players are hoping that promoting the importance of having regular smear tests will encourage female fans and local women to get screened.