Future star coach growing her skills and knowledge

March 5, 2020

Dunedin’s Jessica Gill is a Skills Active graduate, and an award-winning netball coach – and she’s only just finished high school.

Jessica pursued her National Certificate in Developing Coach (Level 3) through Skills Active, while also going through her final year at Queens High School.

On top of her busy schedule, she also loves to coach netball, and has been coaching teams since she was 13 years old. In 2019, she was coaching a Year 3-4 team, and a Year 5-6 team.

“There is just something special about coaching,” Jessica says.

“You start with all these kids and sometimes they have no experience of netball, and limited skills. Throughout the season you work hard together, and you watch them progress to having all these great skills, and see their passion and love for the game grow.”

Jessica’s passion for coaching was recognised at the end of last year, when she was named Youth Volunteer of the Year at the New Zealand Netball Awards.

“I was in the supermarket and got a phone call from Hayley from Netball NZ to tell me I won the award. I was really excited, but being in the supermarket, I didn’t want to make a big deal so I was quite quiet about it!”

Jessica had to keep her award a secret for a month, and then in late October she was flown to Auckland to attend the national awards ceremony.

“I got to meet Laura Langman and had a nice talk with her. As well as Katrina Rore, Maria Folau and also Noeline Taurua. I really enjoyed that! I met pretty much all of the national players and it was a great experience.

“When I started out coaching, I never thought I’d receive this amazing award. It’s really special and I’m very grateful.”

Jessica also completed her Skills Active qualification at the end of 2019, capping off a very busy year. She said the industry training certificate appealed to her, because it was a way to expand her skills, and apply the coaching work that she was already doing.

“I learnt a lot through the training. For instance with any group of kids, they’re not all the same and don’t learn the same way. So you have to coach and teach them in multiple ways.

“Also you have to realise that each kid has stuff going on – maybe they have come straight from another sport practice. There are all those outside factors you might not otherwise think about.”

It was a stretch at times to juggle everything that was going on in her life.

“I was preparing for going to university, there was NCEA and keeping up my grades, school life, coaching and umpiring, and attending other courses. It was about finding a balance. Often it would be on a Sunday afternoon, or I would stay up late one night to work on a few pages,” Jessica says.

“Definitely it was a challenge, but I’m glad I pushed myself.”

Jessica’s hard work has paid off on several fronts in 2020. As well as earning her Skills Active qualification, and her coaching award, she has been accepted to Otago University to do a BSc in sport development and management. 

Jessica also plans to keep up her coaching activities.

“Discovering that I love coaching has kind of set me on this path. I really love it and don’t want to ever give it up – so I hope to continue it as long as I can, and turn it into a career.”

Photo supplied by Jessica Gill