Teammates double as guinea pigs for NSW Swift Tayla Fraser as she juggles tertiary study with preparation for her second Suncorp Super Netball finals campaign.
The studious Swift is hoping to extend her team’s stay inside Queensland’s biosecurity hub for another three weeks after the premiers signed off on the regular season with a 77-77 draw against the Giants.
That stretch would see her through to another grand final but win, lose or draw in Sunday’s minor semi-final, 2020 has already been a year of achievement for the midcourter.
Between a compressed fixture of 14 games in eight weeks, the Australian Catholic University student has balanced a hectic schedule of training, lectures and assessment, all the while nourishing her mental wellbeing as she copes with separation from her family in western Sydney.
The key has been support from her teammates, including bubble roommate Lauren Moore who has been both a sounding board and experimental subject as part of her Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science course work.
“I used her as my guinea pig, as my patient, for a mock consultation,” the Kellyville netballer said.
“We got it done with just a few giggles. Bottom line was I had to get her to exercise more.”
Timetabling support from the national university’s Elite Athlete and Performer Program has given Fraser the freedom to choose from online classes at various campuses during her temporary stint at the Sunshine Coast.
Striking a balance between study and sport has coincided with increased court time for the budding exercise physiologist who has played 12 games in NSW’s bid for back-to-back titles.
Super Netball’s rolling substitutions have enabled her to inject energetic cameos and provide support for Diamonds midcourters Paige Hadley and Maddy Proud.
Reaching the finals has justified the many sacrifices made by the champion Swifts who have made a temporary home at Mooloolaba.
“A lot of people see the front-facing side, when the team have a rare day off and rightly make the most of this amazing region – but they don’t often see the extra training, team meetings, recovery and separation from loved ones that can balance your mood out,” Swifts coach Briony Akle said.
“Our players and staff have made a temporary home for themselves here but they aren’t forgetting the real reason we are in Queensland.
“There are times when it gets lonely and no amount of sun can make up for missing our loved ones at home.”
Fraser, who as a junior represented the Baulkham Hills Netball Association, insisted she is not yet homesick.
In the same breath she can recite to the day how long the team has been away from home.
“I’ve found uni a bit harder in the bubble. You’re always together with teammates whereas at home you’d have a bit more space to yourself or be able to go to the campus,” the 21-year-old said.
“Obviously I miss my family but we have such a great culture at the Swifts and everyone’s coping really well.”
From Olympic athletes to rising stars, the EAPP is proud to support over 80 student athletes and performers through the provision of financial scholarships. Ranging from $1000-$5000, this support has gone a long way to supporting a diverse range of athletes and performers during a difficult period. Applications for 2021 EAPP scholarships are open now.