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Young Pulse shooter embraces steep learning curve

Amelia Walmsley, centre, with Pulse team-mates and flatmates, Maddy Gordon and Parris Mason. Photo: PhotoWellington

An astute student of the game, teenaged Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse shooter Amelia Walmsley has answered the varied challenges of top-flight netball to deliver a captivating breakout season.

Unexpectedly thrust into the starter’s role as the side’s main shooter from Round 1, the 1.92m Walmsley has gone on to pocket two MVP performances, coming along in leaps and bounds in the early days of a blossoming career while helping the Pulse stay in the race for the Finals Series.

Starting all games during the season and playing most of the 60 minutes in each is a complete reversal of what the 19-year-old had been expecting, which was building on her court-time experience with more minutes than the handful she had last season. And she’s done that in spades.

``I’m just really enjoying it. There’s definitely been some slip-ups, but I think, not with the excuse of my age, but just not having as much experience, that is kind of expected and I’m, every game, just trying to improve,’’ Walmsley said.

Coming to the Pulse straight out of Howick College in 2022, Walmsley started her ANZ Premiership education predominantly from the training court and bench last season, surrounded by experience, which has been key to her development.

``I’m a very visual person, so watching and observing is definitely a big part of how I process things and how I learn. So, being able to watch someone as clinical as Aliyah (Dunn) and also just watching the court craft of Tiana (Metuarau) and everyone on court, has provided things that I can add to my game,’’ she said.

Improved strength and conditioning have allowed the tall shooter to hold her own in the physical battles that unfold in the circle, while the mental component has played an equally important role.

``That’s something I always consider before a game, that I am potentially an underdog and people don’t really know who I am and how I play as of yet, so I think it’s something they can try and pick at a bit, my age, my inexperience and trying to get into my head,’’ she said.

``I’m definitely an over-thinker but have been told that I have quite a strong poker-face, so people don’t tend to know unless I’m really rattled.

``On court, I try and stay as calm as possible. You can only do so much, and so if you just have a strong mind, you’re most likely going to have a strong body, too.’’

In the hot seat, there’s also the added pressure of shooting goals and how to cope with the ones that don’t drop.

``It’s difficult and definitely something I’ve had to learn to do, just with the additional pressure of this environment,’’ Walmsley said. ``I’m not used to missing goals and that has happened a bit recently, so it’s definitely something I have to move past fast.

``We’ve talked about the whole mindset of just dropping it and moving on, what’s next and it’s something I’m continuing to work on.’’

Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie couldn’t be happier with Walmsley’s steady improvement.

``She’s made really good progress and it’s been incremental. Each week there’s something new that she’s been able to add to her game and there’s still more to go which is the exciting piece,’’ she said.

``She’s a real determined athlete and that’s what’s allowed her to be successful under all sorts of pressure. She really works hard to look at her game and is keen to be better.’’

With a double-header looming, and the race for the play-offs remaining extra tight, the Pulse are looking no further than Saturday’s game against the Southern Steel in Invercargill. That is followed by a quick turnaround and a match-up with the Tactix in Christchurch on Monday.

``The Steel are getting closer and closer to winning. We know that’s something they’re not going to shy away from, they’re itching for a win, which makes them very dangerous,’’ Walmsley said.

Studying for a Bachelor of Communications, majoring in digital marketing, Walmsley shares a flat with team-mates and fellow TikTok queens Maddy Gordon and Parris Mason.



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