From water girl to the pros: Latanya Wilson moving full speed ahead with netball careerSunday, November 22, 2020
BY DWAYNE RICHARDS
At just 20 years old, Latanya Wilson's life story is already made for television movie.
The “little girl that could” is proving that she is the big girl that can and she is now about to live her dream by playing netball for the Adelaide Thunderbirds in the Suncorp Super Netball League in Australia, next season.
It was confirmed on Monday that she would in fact be joining her netball idol and Sunshine Girls teammate Shamera Sterling at the Thunderbirds after Sterling herself made the recommendation that the organisation sign the 6'2” player to bolster the defensive line.
“Well, it was mixed emotions [when I heard the news] as I just lost my brother. I'm happy and I am excited to be working alongside my idol, Shamera Sterling.
“This was always my dream to play in Australia, so getting the news was just an exciting moment for me,” said Wilson, who celebrated her birthday only six days earlier.
Yet, even as she celebrates realising that dream, she does have some amount of grief in her heart as she continues to mourn the recent passing of her eldest brother and biggest supporter.
The Mico University College student, who fell in love with the game in primary school, wasn't even allowed to play, as she was deemed not good enough. But her determination and drive, characteristics for which she is known today, provided her with the ammunition to succeed even as a pre-teen.
“I was the water girl in primary school,” she disclosed.
“However, that did not stop me. I moved to Gaynstead High School where I started to improve in my game. I stayed focused and disciplined and worked extremely hard.”
Her breakthrough into the national set-up came soon after she made the Gaynstead High Under-13 team and she has not looked back since.
“At an Under-16 rally at Queen's school, I was selected by the coach for the [national] Under-13 squad. She saw me fit as a candidate. I then moved up from the Under-13 to Under-16 to Under-21 and now I am currently on the Sunshine Girls [team],” Wilson said.
She admitted that there were times when it was challenging for her to continue in the sport, but credits her coach, Dalton Hinds, and Team Manager Derrick Brown for helping her through those difficult moments.
“I love the game and I have an amazing staff around me. My Coach Dalton Hinds, my manager, Pastor Brown, they were always beside me working alongside me, motivating me, pushing me to do my best and I just grew a love for the sport and with them behind me pushing it was an awesome feeling to keep working hard,” Wilson reflected.
She agrees that what she has done and what she continues to do could prove inspirational to the girls currently at her old stomping ground, Gaynstead High.
“Yes, I think so, I just have to go out there and work hard, inspire them at Gaynstead, to give them a hope to say, listen…no matter your circumstances, you too can get the job done,” Wilson stated.
The rising netball star reiterated the importance of the type of support she received and hopes that it continues for a long time to come for other students at Gaynstead wanting a launching pad.
“It's very important, I can't stress on how important it is. I must say, there were days when I was really tired, I didn't want to go to training, I wanted to stop, so just the support to say, you know you can do it, you can get it done, the love and all of that. It was the comfort for me to keep doing what I am doing and I think in order to win any championship you need that level of commitment, that level of support.
“I think what Pastor Brown and Mr Hinds are doing at Gaynstead here should continue, it should be something that they will build on and not drop off of,” Wilson noted
The support that she continues to receive from her manager is something she truly appreciates.
“Pastor Brown has been like a father to me. He is always there for me; family issues, he's there; training issues, he's there; money issues, he is there. He is the perfect father in my life, otherwise from my [biological] father.”
The shy introvert was pleasantly surprised to see a boost in her Instagram following on Tuesday, after the announcement of her signing on Monday night.
“It was an awesome feeling knowing that I was at 600 and now I am at 800, I am like wow, there are so many people that want to see what I bring to the table. They want to keep following up with what I am doing on a daily basis, it's so cool,” Wilson said.
The numbers are small in comparison to what superstars with huge following have on the social media platform, but for someone who is known to shy away from that space, it is truly a big deal. Wilson promises to be more active on social media, so that those who want to follow her progress in netball can get a chance to do so.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login