Stella Beck is hesitant in being referred to as a veteran within the Sky Sport Tall Ferns, but Head Coach Guy Molloy has asked that she and Penina Davidson get used to it.
The two Melbourne Boomers were shoulder tapped prior to this week’s camp to take on more of a leadership role in the build-up to their Showcase tonight at The Trusts Arena. They were named as captains of the two sides on Thursday.
Of the 24 players taking part in the inter-team game, 11 are uncapped. The group are also without captain Kalani Purcell, as well as a host of experience who took to the floor in last year’s Olympic Qualifiers.
Beck says she was taken back when asked to step up and humbled at the instruction.
“It’s not something I necessarily expected considering my age, but it’s a huge honour and I’m grateful to be given the opportunity.
“It’s pretty awesome that me and Penina get to do it together as well because we made our debut at the same time.”
The Hutt Valley product first hit out for the Ferns was in 2013 and has gone on to represent her country on 47 occasions.
Over the course of her seven years in the national side, she has been fortunate to play and build a relationship with legends such as Micaela Cocks, Natalie Taylor and Lisa Walbutton.
Beck says she’s learned a lot from her former team-mates and has used what she observed to ensure the younger girls feel at home.
“I’ve been lucky to have played with so many great players in my time with the Ferns, who set great examples for the likes of me and Penina when we first came in.
“They all went about doing their way, but they all shared similar traits that I think makes someone a good leader.
“Things like not being afraid to say stuff that needs to said for the sake of the group, being the hardest worker in the room or doing what they can to get the best out of those around them.”
Making sure all the boxes are ticked as an individual is a tough task and Beck admits that the week has been different with having to check everyone’s up to speed.
“A lot changed for me this week because I’ve never been in the position I’ve been in, so it’s completely new to me.
“It’s been a lot of learning on the fly, but it’s also been a time of reflection because I understand what it’s like to be coming into my first or my second Ferns camp.
“That’s probably what I’ve kept front of mind through the week and then I’ve tried to do what I can to have things run smoothly for the young girls and even the team as a whole.”
A big part of the Tall Ferns’ culture is sisterhood, only competitiveness and giving your all are also heavily emphasised.
So don’t expect Team Beck and Team Davidson to play happy families later today, as there are bragging rights on the line.
“We’ve known the teams for a couple of days, so there’s been a bit of smack talk here and there. We’re all going out there to try and win because that’s what you do when you play.”
The showcase gets underway at 5pm and will be followed by the Sal’s NBL Showdown Grand Final at 7:30pm.
Team Beck lineup:
Stella Beck (Melbourne Boomers), Jacinta Beckley (Sunbury Jets), Tayla Dalton, Ella Fotu, Emme Shearer, Ashleigh Kelman-Poto (all Harbour Breeze), Kendell Heremaia, Zara Jillings (both Fordham University), Arielle Mackey-Williams (Tai Wananga Ki Ruakura / Auckland Dream), Sharne Robati (Auckland Dream), Akiene-Tera Reed (Virginia Commonwealth University), Amy West (St Mary’s College, California).
Coach – Aik Ho.
Team Davidson line-up:
Penina Davidson, Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu (both Harbour Breeze), Brooke Blair (Rockhampton Cyclones), Ella Bradley, Charlisse Leger-Walker, Matangiroa Flavell (all Waikato Wizards), Tanaka Gapare (Wellington), Mary Goulding (Bendigo Spirit), Kayla Manuirirangi (Tulane University), Helen Matthews, Ashlee Strawbridge (both Canterbury Wildcats), Zoe Richards (Otago Goldrush).
Coach – Jody Cameron.
- The Sky Sport Tall Ferns Showcase will be played on Saturday 1 August at The Trusts Arena at 5pm, ahead of the Sal’s NBL Grand Final at 7pm. Tickets via TicketFairy.com. Adults, $20. Students $10. Children under 12, $5.
- Official website for the Sal’s NBL: NZNBL.basketball
- Follow the Tall Ferns social media channels: @TallFerns Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Hashtag: #TallFerns