Southern Blast co-coach grateful for support of family

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Abbey McKenzie’s netball coaching star keeps rising. The mother-of-two, who has been appointed as part of the coaching team for the Southern Blast, chats to Oamaru Mail reporter Gus Patterson

Q How did the Southern Blast Beko opportunity come about?

I was fortunate a couple of years ago to be a part of the Beko team set-up as an apprentice coach and after a year out I realised how much I wanted to be a part of that high performance, professional-type environment. So I applied this year when the coaching was advertised and was really fortunate to get asked to be the assistant coach. I’m really looking forward to working alongside Jo Morrison, the head coach, and Lana Morrison, the other assistant coach.

Q What will it involve?

We have training twice a week then heading to games, which will mainly take place on Sundays. So for me it will involve a lot more driving.

Q What teams did you coach this year?

This year I coached the Southern Magpies premier A team and the Southern Tui B team, both in Dunedin, as well as the North Otago under-19 national team. The Southern Magpies made the final, but fell short, and the Southern Tui team made their semifinals. It was a development year for North Otago under-19, but we still played well at nationals and finished 15th.

Q How many miles have you clocked this year, driving to and from netball?

I had a rough work out, as I do at the end of most seasons since coaching in Dunedin, and for Southern alone it was close to 20,000km.

Q How do you find the commute?

five years coaching in Dunedin I’ve got used to the driving. I’m lucky to have players from Oamaru, who play in Dunedin, come with me to keep me company. I also find driving after games great to debrief the game and by the time I’m home I’m able to move on.

Q How do you manage it all with a young family?

I’m very lucky to have an incredible family and husband who totally support me and are there to help when we need it. Also, my girls love sport and enjoy coming to games when they can. This year, Hamish and I trained on separate nights. Next year, we will be training on the same nights so that’s going to be our new challenge.

Q Your husband, Hamish, is also a local sporting identity. Is there a lot of sports talk in the McKenzie household?

Hamish and I have two young girls, Harper (6) and Milla (3). We are a very sporting family, and come from sporting families, so we really enjoy helping each other where we can, running ideas past and debriefing certain situations. Sometimes it’s great to have an outside perspective.

Q What are your goals for netball coaching?

I’m looking forward to continuing to grow and learn. For me as a coach, obviously I would love to one day coach at the highest level, but it’s about enjoying the players and seeing them grow, not just as netballers, but as people.

Q How will you be spending the summer months?

I have Beko trials this weekend and then I can say I’ve finished netball for the year, apart from planning for next year. As a family we love to head up to the lakes and I enjoy water skiing and spending time with the four of us, since winter can be pretty busy.