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Team Culture is Huge, Says Haier Pulse Captain Katrina Grant

Team Culture is Huge, Says Haier Pulse Captain Katrina Grant

12 December 2013

Ronald McDonald House (RMH) was the ideal venue for today’s Haier Pulse 2014 season launch, with its close association with the team. Speaking to a roomful of guests before helping to dress the RMH Christmas tree, captain Katrina Grant acknowledged the important role that the house plays with families of children that attend Wellington Hospital.

“The last time I was here it was a construction site and I had to wear my hard hat and hi-vis vest,” she explained. “It’s outstanding to see the amazing effort that has been put into completing the house. It’s a privilege to be involved with such an essential organisation.”

During the event, the captain also had an opportunity to introduce the new line-up for 2014, which this season includes shooter Irene van Dyk, defender Ama Agabeze and mid-courters Elias Shadrock and Gemma Hazeldine.

This is Grant’s fourth season as captain and she feels that she has a very different involvement compared to her early days at the helm. “When I first took on the role of captain, we were a bottom of the table team, full of young players and with very little experience, so it was a massive learning curve for me. It was pretty much learning on the spot,” she explained.

“It was character building, because no-one really had that experience and I didn’t have anyone to learn off. The structure of the Pulse wasn’t quite what it is today, so I learnt as I went along. Every year I’ve been captain, the behind-the-scenes has improved plus the team has got more and more experience.

Grant spent her first season as captain under Yvette McCausland-Durie and 2014 will be her third under the highly acclaimed coach Robyn Broughton. “We’ve brought in more experienced players, so I think that’s helped me grow and hopefully become a better captain, but you’re always learning because it’s not always the easiest job going around,” she admitted.

“It’s great having Jols,” she acknowledged of mid-courter and fellow Silver Fern Joline Henry, who is in her third season in support as vice captain. “In my first year as captain I didn’t have a vice captain at all, so that was tough. I’ve realised that the vice captain is really key, because as a leader you do all the bits and pieces associated with the management of the team as well as working with the coach, and you try and keep player welfare as your top priority. As the leader, you’re the voice for the players. Having a vice captain is really important to help with the other things that you may not have time for. They support you always and put you in the right direction if you’re not going the right way.

“At this level, being captain is a lot more than just leading a team out on court, there’s also the media responsibilities and meetings with the coach, you’re like the voice between the players and the coach, you’re always the middle man. There’s the game plan, starting line-ups, even uniform and flight decisions and little bits and pieces like that. You’re always coordinating with the team manager. Robbie and our team manager Jo are awesome, they always ask the right questions and make sure the players come first,” highlighted Grant.

One of the important things Katrina has learnt in her role is to be more careful about what she says off court. “I’ve definitely learnt to be a bit more diplomatic about what to say. If you’re going to say random things, it’s not always best for the team. You can’t express things too much, even if you’re frustrated with yourself or the team, people are always scrutinising what you’re doing and are watching what you do as the leader. I always wear my heart on my sleeve, I’m not going to stop that, but you do have to pick and choose your moments as well.

Grant, who is currently studying a Bachelor of Applied Management through Otago Polytechnic and has completed a leadership course with a top New Zealand bank, sees a lot of parallels between leading as a captain and leading in business. “The leadership course, and now my degree, have really helped me in a business sense. Leadership in a sports team is like leadership in a business, they are very much related.

What advice would Katrina give to young person taking up the captain’s mantle for the first time? “When you’re young it’s all about your team culture, especially in the age group levels, it’s about making sure you guys are as one and stick together. If you’re having fun off the court, it’s always going to go well on the court. Team culture is huge!” she concluded.

The Haier Pulse open their campaign against the Adelaide Thunderbirds at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua, the home of the Haier Pulse, on Sunday 3 March.
ends

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