As Sam Poolman is poised to become the first Novocastrian to make the Australian squad in nearly two decades, Tiffany Gilmour hopes she can help develop the next crop of elite netballers out of the Hunter region.
The former Hunter Jaegers and Sydney Swifts goal attack has teamed up with fellow NSW Institute of Sport junior Nat Hilder to form Netty Heads, netball coaching specialists for the Hunter.
The pair were in junior representative squads together but only really got to know each other after Hilder moved to Newcastle when husband Matt signed with the Knights.
They ended up forging a friendship and thought Netty Heads could utilise their vast knowledge and experience in the game while also filling a void for the region.
“There isn’t anything that is specific for positioning, if a team wants to become stronger, there’s no one out there, or if coaches need someone to bounce ideas off,” Gilmour said.
“They can get us in to run a session, or watch a game and give them feedback; that’s what we’re about, specialising in netball for individuals and teams and coaches.
“We’ve both had some of the best coaches in Australia in the likes of Rob Wright, Julie Fitzgerald, Lisa Beehag, and we’ve learned so many drills over the years.
“We want to bring all of those skills and what we’ve learned to Newcastle. It just seemed to be such a waste not to use it to help young and aspiring netballers from here to develop.”
Poolman has been a standout for the GWS Giants in the Super Netball this season and is tipped to be on the verge of making the Diamonds squad.
Former Jaeger and Swift Raegan Jackson was in the mix for a national cap in the late 1990s but never got on court for Australia.
Sisters Lois and Nola Green played for Australia in the 1960s and remain Newcastle’s only national representatives.
“I suppose we are a little bit removed from everything that is going on in Sydney here in Newcastle and it is a big effort to commit to play down there,” Gilmour said.
“It was non-professional before so it was up to mum and dad to drive you to Sydney to get those skills.
“But if we can help make this area strong then it is more enticing now to be playing there.”
They have plenty of coaching experience. Off the court both are mothers. Gilmour is also a hair stylist and qualified personal trainer. Hilder is a high school teacher.
“We just thought we would start out in Newcastle to see how we would go because we didn’t know how it would be received,” Gilmour said.
“But so far, just through word of mouth, there seems to be plenty of people out there who want to improve with specialist coaching.”