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Cara Koenen: Back At It!

Cara Koenen

Last Monday marked the beginning of a momentous, challenging and exciting week. As of a few days ago, the Lightning camp was back in action. We had just been given the all clear from our state government and SSN to hit the court (with a couple of extra guidelines and restrictions to abide by). As I am writing this, we have nearly reached the halfway point for our regular week of training and, boy, am I feeling it!

Our ‘regular’ week in socially distanced training:

Speaking of; now might be a good time to outline what our ‘regular’ week consists of. During this especially lengthy, drawn-out pre-season, we will squeeze in 3 strength, 2 court, 3-4 conditioning (cardio) and 1 skills session. And so, this is what life will look like for us over the next few weeks — at least until the real fun starts, come August 1 *wink wink*.

Monday started off with a bang – straight back into the gym. Well, straight back once we had completed our mandatory daily monitoring, temperature checks and sanitising routine, that is. The feeling was so positive amongst the group, that it felt to me like we hadn’t missed a beat – at the time… I do have to admit, after waking up with some serious muscle soreness the next morning, I was reminded that it would take more than a little bit of good energy to get me back to where I wanted to be before game day.

No need to panic though; we all know that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

The following day was the first time we all got back on court together. We begin each session with the customary ‘Circle of Life’ team discussion, which has been a tradition at Lightning since almost day dot. The theme on this special day was gratitude. Very appropriate, if you ask me. We were asked to come up with two things; what we were grateful for during our time spent in isolation, and now that we are back on deck. The opportunity to reconnect with family, partners, friends and pets while unable to spend time at the club was mentioned by several individuals. A few people voiced their appreciation for being involved in a team sport where we are able to draw from each other’s energy and motivation to get the job done (kudos to any individual athletes out there – you guys are rockstars). There was also an undeniable excitement and anticipation around potentially stepping out on our home court in front of our incredible Sunshine Coast Lightning family. I am sure we would all agree, there is nothing else like it.

With all the housekeeping and initial discussions done, it was time to get down to business.

Can I just say, I went into this session with a very open mind as we hadn’t thrown a ball to one another in months! Between us, we expected a few fumbles and might have even placed bets on who would be the first to trip over or cop a falcon (best odds were on self-nominated Maddy McAuliffe, for those who were wondering). I can’t speak for everyone but I was pleasantly surprised! Once a bit of the initial excitement had worn off, muscle memory seemed to kick in and things weren’t looking too shabby at all.

As running was on the menu every other day while in isolation, fitness was not super high on the priority list in this first session back (not mad about that). The trademark stopping, starting and change of direction that comes to mind at the mention of netball, was a whole different story. Evidently, this can take quite a bit of getting (re)used to. I know, who would’ve thought! This concept was a major focus throughout our first session; from physiotherapy pre-hab, to movement patterns, and eventually putting it all together… with a ball! A few new ‘team members’ were also added to the player roster to help us remain socially distant — these took shape as plastic chairs that we assigned names to, who served as our opponents during drills.

After a fair bit of work, training began to wind down and the boss (KB) addressed the group about the plan for the next few weeks. Going forward, we will continue to build towards full contact as restrictions ease; it’s all about keeping the foot on the gas in the lead up to Round 1.

We can’t wait, and we hope that neither can you.

Until next time,
Cara Koenen