Sunshine Girl Shadian Hemmings (left) attempts to collect the ball as Trinidad and Tobago's Crystal-AnnGeorge closes in during game one of their three-match series at the National Indoor Sports Centre onSaturday. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)
Shadian Hemmings determined to make mark in Sunshine Girls set-up

SHADIAN Hemmings has never been one to shy away from a challenge.

In fact, she is sometimes considered a handful to deal with, and that for some is what makes her a force to reckon with on the court.

The former Herbert Morrison Technical High School stalwart, who can play goal defence, centre or goal attack, joined the senior Sunshine Girls set-up in 2011 but parted ways with the team a year later, as she was not pleased with the operations.

However, Hemmings, an outspoken figure, returned for national duties in 2019, shortly after Connie Francis was reunited with the team as head coach, and she has not looked back since.

“After coming to Kingston for university, I was called into the senior team and ended up leaving in 2012 because of inequality. But I recently decided to return to the squad and things have been going well since. It is really good to be back with the girls doing what we love most – representing our country,” The University of The West Indies alumna, who also represented Jamaica at the Under-16 level, shared.

Though she was left out of the Netball World Cup squad and had very little playing time at the four-team Nations Cup last January, Hemmings, 30, relishes the challenge of proving that she belongs, as she was always keen on making her mark in the Sunshine Girls team.

She once again demonstrated that case in their 71-22 hammering of Trinidad and Tobago's Calypso Girls in the opening game of their three-match series on Saturday.

The versatile midcourt player was very effective in the Sunshine Girls victory as she produced a burst of energy each time she took the court while parading her agility in defence.

“It was my first time playing Trinidad at this level so I really did not know what to expect, but I think I did well — especially due to the fact that it was my first time playing a game after 21 months,” she noted.

“I think it was a good game for me but I still have a lot more work to do in order to compete with the top teams. So, this game was just a test of my fitness and competitiveness as we are preparing for a more competitive game next month,” Hemmings added in reference to the upcoming series against England.

It is with that in mind that the former Blazers United and Walgrovian player chided her number-four ranked Sunshine Girls teammates for the overall display against their number 10-ranked Caribbean rivals.

“The team came out victorious but overall I think the performance was horrible, to be honest. Trinidad is not a team on our level competitively and so the number of turnovers, missed shots, missed catches, stepping and bad passes among other things, is not acceptable.

“When we meet the tougher teams we will be in big trouble when they start to punish us. So, I think it was an okay performance and we have a lot more work to do,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

While it may not have been the most efficient execution, Hemmings' show of grit and determination throughout the game earned her the player of the game award and that, she says, was just a hint of what she is capable of when fully focused.

“Being named the MVP really didn't mean much. I know the task that is ahead and I need to ensure that I am putting myself in a position to compete with the big guns — and just a small portion of that came out in last night's [Saturday's] game.

“I am usually a hard worker and all this is saying now is that I need to work even harder. Coach has been working with us local girls really hard and I personally just need to make her proud,” she declared.

That said, Hemmings is hoping the team can deliver a better showing in this evening's second game, as she's even hungrier and more motivated to dig deeper, especially with a spot on the team for next year's Commonwealth Games on the line.

“I am expecting the team to come out on top in this series but more than that, we need to work together to achieve some cohesiveness as we do not have all the team members based locally. So we need to take advantage of the little time we have playing together so we don't underperform when we meet the bigger teams,” she argued.

“For me personally, the aim is to make it to Commonwealth Games next year, so that is something I am working towards,” Hemmings ended.

BY SHERDON COWAN Observer staff reporter cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

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