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Aerial display . . . Valley Gold goal defence Nicky Wallace tries to block St Kevin's goal attack Molly Kay during the North Otago premier club netball final last year. PHOTO: DAVE BOYLE

Nicky Wallace is no ordinary netballer. The talented defender is flat out during winter as a member of both the Valley Gold and Southern (Dunedin) premier teams. Hayden Meikle tracks her down for a chat.

Q How old are you, Nicky?
I’m 25 at the moment, turning 26 on Sunday.

Q What’s your background?
I’ve been pretty much in Oamaru my whole life. Alastair and Judith Wallace are my parents. I went to Waitaki Girls’. Then I went down to do four years at Otago University, where I did a phys ed degree. But I’m back living in Oamaru and working in Palmerston.

Q When did netball become a big focus for you?
Oh, jeepers. I’ve always played, pretty much, right through primary school. It probably wasn’t until I hit high school that I really took it seriously. Having Georgie Salter there was a big part of that. You might get pushed and yelled at but she is someone who really sees potential in people, and that was really good for me. I’m still playing netball and loving it, so I took a whole lot away from that time with her.

Q Who did you play netball for while you were in Dunedin?
I had a few injuries with my legs and things like that, so I had a couple of years off. Then I played for Southern. Then I went back to Oamaru but got dragged back into the Dunedin competition halfway through the 2015 season.

Q You’ve kept playing for Valley Gold in the North Otago competition at the same time as playing for Southern in Dunedin. What’s that balancing act like?
Yeah, I’ve done both – as much as I can – for two and a-half years. Valley have been really good at letting me play just my Dunedin game if they have cover. But generally I play in Dunedin, drive straight back to Oamaru, and jump on the court as soon as I arrive sometimes. It’s actually pretty cruisy because both clubs are really good about having training on different days. It just means a bit of driving, and sometimes the games do conflict on Saturdays. There’s a lot of taking the court at the very last minute.

Q You ever get confused and run on to court in the wrong gear?
Hah. I have showed up sometimes in the wrong dress so I just whip one off, whip the other one on, and off I go. It can get quite stressful sometimes.

Q What’s the highest level of netball you’ve experienced?
I’ve done a bit for North Otago, and the last couple of years I have been lucky enough to get a Beko League trial. I made the Beko emerging talent squad last year, but I pulled out of that because of a work change and some other commitments. I’m keen for any other opportunities that come along. It’s nice to get feedback and improve your game. Abbey McKenzie has been a big part of that for me. She’s always pushing me, which is great. We travel down to Dunedin together a lot.

Q Valley Gold has won four straight titles but was beaten by St Kevin’s a couple of weeks ago. Is the dynasty crumbling?
Oh, no. You always have those games. It’s probably quite good for us to have a loss. Those girls played amazing that day. Their structure is really good. Valley’s got a couple of new players and it’s about forming those connections again.

Q So you’ll be keen to get revenge – maybe in a rematch in the final?
Hah. I’d be lying if I said no. You’re always out to win.

Q You’ve also spent plenty of time at No 1 in the North Otago women’s tennis team. Has that sport been a big part of your life?
Yeah, I play a little bit, here and there. I’ve been involved since I was a little thing because Mum and Granddad both played.

Q You’ve actually played a bit of North Otago representative tennis with your mother, haven’t you?
Yeah, I have. In recent years, she’s kind of gone down to the second team, but we try to pull her up to the top team when we can. We always seem to struggle for numbers on the women’s side, but we’ve got some great young girls coming through. I’ve been able to drop back to No 4, which is great.

Q What do you do for a job?
I’m store manager at PGG in Palmerston. That was a bit of a change I took on in November, after being in customer service at PGG in Oamaru.