Next up in our Student Spotlight feature is year 13 student Gabriella de Latour. She is code captain for netball, cricket and lifesaving at Diocesan School for Girls. She has been nominated by her school for the significant contribution she has made to her chosen sports and her inspiring leadership for the whole school community.
Gabriella started playing netball and cricket at a young age. She also started surf lifesaving with nippers at Pauanui Surf Lifesaving Club, then began IRB racing once she became a qualified lifeguard. She loves the sense of family and the support that all her different sports provide and is always happy to share her knowledge with her peers and younger students.
What motivates you to play sport?
Wanting to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Also the sense of family that is created when playing a team sport. My team mates aren’t just my team mates, they are my family and it allows me to have a space where we all share the same passion and connect through the same sport.
I’ve always been a very active person and I believe it comes from me being introduced to new sports as I grew up thanks to my parents and school.
My passion to learn new skills and strive for my personal best has always motivated me. I find myself craving the satisfaction of shooting a hoop in a netball game or bowling a wicket in a cricket match knowing that it takes myself and my team one step closer to achieving our goal.
How are you keeping active during lockdown?
I have been doing circuits provided by Dio’s netball strength and conditioning coach, Chloe Mckenzie who runs Next Level Netball. She provided us with individual strength circuits for what we need to work on along with speed, change of direction, balls skills and conditioning programmes. I also go for runs to work on my aerobic fitness.
What are you looking forward to once the lockdown is over?
I am looking forward to getting back on the netball courts as a player, coach, umpire and supporter. I am looking forward to getting back on the cricket pitch and finishing what my team started at the start of the year. I am also looking forward to seeing my friends face to face and having a conversation that isn’t through a phone screen. I’m looking forward to interacting with all of the younger girls who look up to me as a senior student who plays their sport, and sharing my passion and love of the game with them. I also can’t wait to teach other girls such valuable skills e.g. first aid that I learnt through surf lifesaving as I think it is a skill that everyone should have.
What has been your favourite sporting moment over the past year?
My favourite sporting moment was winning a silver medal in the Bay of Plenty Long Haul IRB race. This race is a 90km race from Ohope to Mt Maunganui where teams of 3 race by IRB completing stages along the way. This is one of my favourite sporting moments because my team was an all girls team. At the time there weren’t many all girls teams that competed in IRB racing because of how physically demanding it can be. My team was my clubs first ever all girls IRB racing team to compete in this race. What made the moment so special was that we were three friends that shared the same passion, we had trained hard but going into the event our goal was to have fun and not come last. Going in we knew there were teams who had been racing for longer than we had but we didn’t care we were doing it because we loved it. It was such an amazing moment to share with two people that I see as my older sisters. The medal to me was so much more than just a medal it was a reward for the journey we took on and overcame. All three of us were based in different parts of NZ so finding a time that we could all be in Pauanui and train was challenging but we made it work.
Just one week out from the event at our last training I injured my knee, I remember being so upset because I knew that something was wrong and that my injury could mean we would have to pull out. After meeting with a physio it was likely that I may have torn ligaments and would need surgery, but there was no way of being certain. I made the decision that I was going to race wearing a knee brace so that my team could race. I wasn’t going to be the reason that all of our hard work ended in nothing. Without a certain answer to what was wrong there was no way I wasn’t going to race. So coming out the other side with a medal around my neck was the best feeling to know that everything we had sacrificed and the hard work we put in gave us an outcome that we didn’t expect.
This moment means so much more to me now because in a couple of weeks time we were meant to be heading to Ohope to race for the second time and chase for the gold. This moment taught me that no matter the result if you are doing something because you love it and you are having fun nothing can stop you from feeling proud.
Who is your sporting role model and why?
My sporting role model is Ameliaranne Ekenasio. She is my role model because not only does she play my positions in netball but she balances bringing up a family as well as training long hours. She isn’t afraid to embrace her culture and who she is. She is also humble in everything that she does. She respects herself and others so much which I really think is important because it shows she cares for her values and her ethnicity but also others as well. I think she showcases really well what it means to represent New Zealand.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I want to share a message that, no matter how negative the situation is, there are always positives. Lockdown has given us a chance as athletes to focus on ourselves. We spend so much time putting our team before ourselves as athletes that play a team sport that we push aside small injuries and our own health. By being removed from our team physically and in our own space it has given us time to rest and strengthen injuries and focus on areas of our game that we want to become stronger at. Through strengthening these areas by thinking about ourselves we are also thinking about our team. It is a way to come out of lockdown mentally and physically stronger than we were before.
If you’d like to nominate a student athlete or student coach/official to be featured, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with their full name, school, and why you’re nominating them.