It's a family affair at Wodonga Raiders this season. Sisters Shaylah, Mackensey and Blaynee House are playing in the club's A-grade side. But the House's connection to the team doesn't end there, with the girls under the watchful eye of coach and mum, Jodie. While the girls hit the court every week with their mum, dad John can be found watching from the sidelines. The House family spoke to The Border Mail's GEORGIA SMITH this week about what Saturday netball looks like for them.
GEORGIA SMITH: What's it like having each other on the court together every Saturday?
SHAYLAH: It's good. I thought we might have fought a little bit more than we do, but we don't. We just kind of know where each other are going to be on the court. We're lucky that there's a connection you might not have with other people that you just play netball with. There's more of a deeper connection, but it's good fun.
GS: Is there any sibling rivalry?
SHAYLAH: Nah, we're all pretty friendly.
JODIE: They have to work together because Shaylah's in goals and these two work in the midcourt. They have to be nice to each other because they spend a lot of time working with each other on the court.
GS: Which sister, if any, has the biggest competitive streak?
SHAYLAH: I'd say we're all fairly competitive. (laughs)
GS: What's it like having your mum as your coach?
SHAYLAH: I think it's good. We've had her for a long time and I think we're at an age now where we listen.
BLAYNEE: We've realised she knows what she's talking about.
JODIE: I've had to earn my stripes with them. As they were growing up and I used to coach them, if I was going to have issues from anyone, it was always hardest to coach the girls. I'd come home and say to John, "oh my gosh that was so hard, they don't listen." Now they're slowly going mum, you might have some idea about what you're talking about.
GS: How do you separate being the girls coach from being their mum?
JODIE: I think consciously I have to be aware, and I'm getting better at it, that when we come home netball finishes. Blaynee, coming into this A-grade side for the first time, might sometimes ask a few questions and I'm like mate, that's for netball not for home. But I think the really hard thing about being a coach of your kids is that you're aware of the opinions of other people about why your kids are in the team. I had this conversation with someone the other day and we were talking about football and how football has the father-son rule. So that's acceptable that if your dad played at a high level at a club that you get to walk in there. But it's funny in the netball industry. Obviously this is a non-paid job for me and we had a selection panel of five. I always make it very clear that I make no comment on my children and where they're placed. They have to earn their stripes and get there themselves, and probably work harder than everyone else.
GS: How hectic are Saturday mornings in your house?
MACKENSEY: Pretty chilled out I reckon.
SHAYLAH: I just get more nervous for the 16s. I coach the under-16s, so I'm not even thinking about my game when I wake up. I'm just nervous about the younger kids game.
GS: How are you finding coaching?
SHAYLAH: It's awesome. It's my first year doing the under-16s. I coached last year as well, but not the 16s at Raiders. I love it.
GS: Following in your mum's footsteps?
SHAYLAH: Yeah I guess so.
GS: John do you have much input when it comes to netball talk at home?
JOHN: I taught them everything they know. (laughs) I try and keep out of it on Saturday mornings.
JODIE: What's the one thing you always get in trouble for from the girls?
JOHN: Don't say anything stupid.
JODIE: Or they'll come off the court and they'll go, "what do you reckon?" and you'll always fire back at them with, "well, you could have done this better." (laughs)
SHAYLAH: Always negative.
JOHN: I'm probably their worst critic actually.
GS: Do the girls listen to your feedback?
JOHN: Occasionally, but not very often.
I taught them everything they know.John House
SHAYLAH: You know when he says something is good it means wow, you've played really good.
BLAYNEE: Yeah you've actually played alright.
JOHN: After Blaynee's first game I said, "gee you played really well today," and she's gone, "I must have because you said so."
GS: And Raiders has been a bit of a special club for you guys over the years, hasn't it?
JODIE: Yeah I think so. We met at Raiders. I moved back from Newcastle, I went up there for Uni and came back and started playing at Raiders the following year. We sort of got together then didn't we?
JODIE: And then John was part of their only premiership football side as well. After 10 years there I got my life membership with the club. Then for personal development reasons I coached out at Lavington and then we found our way to the Tallangatta league when the kids were little. We came back in and last year the coaching role came up at Raiders. I think for John it's been a good move as well because of the social side of it. For him that's where a lot of his friends are that he had been at the footy club with for a long time.
JOHN: And most of them have their own kids coming through the ranks as well. Whilst obviously they've moved on from playing, they're still around the club because their kids are there. It's quite funny, you look at the team lists and you see oh that's his son and his daughter.
JODIE: It's nice to all turn up at the club in our Raiders shirts. We always said when the girls were older they'd make their own decision. They needed to create their own memories and not live in our past, but it is nice that they've found their way back to Raiders with us.
GS: Do you enjoy spending your Saturday afternoons together?
SHAYLAH: Definitely, love it. I hate it in the off-season, it's so boring.
GS: Shaylah, being the eldest, do you ever give your sisters a bit of advice out on the court?
SHAYLAH: Yeah, I don't know how to keep my mouth shut. (laughs)
JOHN: Not just on the court either.
GS: How do you cope with that Blaynee?
BLAYNEE: I don't mind it, it just stops me from overthinking. She's very good at just talking and not making you stress too much.
GS: How would you describe each other as teammates?
SHAYLAH: Blaynee, we like to give her a hard time and say she's not very smart off the netball court, but on the court she's very intelligent. She sets things up and is quite a good play maker. Mackensey is more like your solid, strong netballer. They play very differently, which is probably why they compliment each other so well. I don't know what I am.
IN OTHER SPORTS NEWS:
JODIE: Shaylah's the over thinker, stresser.
SHAYLAH: That's not a good thing to say (laughs)
JODIE: When I say stresser, you'll over think things when I say don't think about it, it's all good.
JOHN: She worries about how everyone is playing.
JODIE: She thinks about her own performance and how it impacts everyone else. I say to her, your job is just to go out there and play. She's an extremely smart player out on the court. She won't say that, but we classify her as a mastermind in the goal circle. She sets it up and does it very well.
GS: Are you looking forward to what's in store for the rest of the season?
SHAYLAH: Excited to start winning, that would be nice.
JODIE: It's been a tough start hasn't it. We had Wang and then Yarrawonga and now Lavington.
SHAYLAH: All top three teams in the first three rounds. We're definitely better than last year though, despite Saturday.
JODIE: It's a nice environment. They're a really nice group of girls and it's really family oriented. It's a great place to be.
GS: And girls, are you hoping to be able to play A-grade at Raiders together for a few more years?
SHAYLAH: I hope so.
JOHN: Shaylah's studying here locally, so there's a chance they could play for a couple of years at least. Depending on what Mackensey and Blaynee do.
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