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A netball defender of the highest degree - May 4, 2023

From a psychological perspective, defender Kate Burley now boasts the right credentials to conduct a post-season analysis for her netball team.

The formidable Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel defender graduates on Friday from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Science, double major in physiology and psychology.

“I’m really excited because it feels like a long time coming so to have that true sense of completion will be great,” she said.

“It definitely has been challenging juggling study and sport. Like any athlete studying, I’ve had my times where it gets really hard and you question why you do it. But it is so worth it and I’m proud of myself that I was able to balance both and not give up.”

The demands of competing in netball’s top echelon of the ANZ Premiership can be intense and Burley embraced the balance university life added.

“I knew I had to do something for me outside of netball and set myself up for life after sport,” she said.

“It’s so easy for netball not to go your way. If you’re losing all the time or you don’t get selected for something, it can be really hard when your identity is wrapped up in that.

“It was always good to have something else to focus on. I love netball and I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to do this as my job but if worse comes to worst, I know I am more than a netball player.”

Adding psychology to her degree enabled Burley to pursue a passion.

“I do find it really interesting and I love learning about the brain and just how it works.

“Everyone you meet will tell you I’m a chronic overthinker so I don’t know if it has come in handy or made me think even more deeply into everything that I do.”

You could argue Steel’s 2023 season has produced plenty to scrutinize.

“It has been tough and anyone that plays sport knows it isn’t easy because we’re putting in the work and training bloody hard.” Burley said.

“We are having some real glimpses of great netball out there, especially against the Pulse the other night when we only lost by one. It was so cool and it felt so nice to have that hard work rewarded because this is what we know we’re capable of.

“Obviously we didn’t quite get the win but we put out a really solid performance for almost that whole game and I think it’s a true testament of our team culture – we could have imploded weeks ago but having the amazing group of people that we do, we still choose to go out to dinner with each other, we’re still choosing to hang out with each other and that’s really special.

“It’s really nice that we have those solid friendships and foundations within our group. We know we haven’t got the results but, in some ways, that’s okay because we are still working hard and staying strong together trying to enjoy what we’re doing.”

The Steel’s next assignment is a double header this weekend against the MG Mystics in Auckland on Saturday night before venturing south to play the Avis Magic in Hamilton on Monday.

“We know we can do it. That’s the exciting thing. There’s a cool challenge coming up for us in the next few weeks. It’s not an easy first step going up against the Mystics but they’re top of the table and they’re a classy side so what a good way to try and test ourselves and see how we can back it up from that performance with the Pulse,” she said.

“It’s a double header and that’s always a kicker. But you don’t have too much time to focus on the game you’ve just played, it’s just onto the next one to see what can be achieved.

“It will be good to come up against the Magic again because that was the first game we had that was really tight and we know we can compete with them. We’ve made a lot of shifts since last time.

“We are just slowly grinding away and making those improvements and we are ticking off little goals. It’s just a matter of time for us. We know we’re working hard for it so we just need to keep putting it out on court and it will all fall into place.”

Caption: Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel defender Kate Burley in action. Photo credit: Michael Bradley Photography.


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