Good coaching is about developing a life-long love of sport in people and in a commitment to seeing the quality and number of coaches grow in Northland, the Northern Advocate has teamed up with Sport Northland to publish a question-and-answer feature on one local coach per month.

The aim is to highlight coaches from an array of codes to give an insight into the nuances of coaching and the people who dedicate themselves to the discipline.

The eighth coach profile is Kaitaia College senior netball coach Gloria Harrison, a woman devoted to her code in the Far North.
Name: Gloria Harrison

Age: 50


Hometown: Kaitaia

Sport: Netball

Occupation: Finance

Current coaching role: Most recently, I have been a Kaitaia College senior netball coach for the past five years.

Playing background: I started playing when I was in year 6, but I always played up a grade. I played through secondary school at Kaitaia College and then onto a club where I played with my mum.

I became a Mangonui and Northland representative player. I was eventually invited to play for North Harbour, but I turned this down as it would have meant me leaving my hometown.

Coaching experience: From the age of 18, I was involved in all aspects of netball. I was playing, but I also coached younger kids and I umpired. I have coached at all levels in the Mangonui Netball Centre - junior, senior, club, school, as well as age group Mangonui reps.

Training/Qualifications: I learned to coach by coaching. Sitting in a room and paper exercises is not the best way for me to learn. I learn best 'kanohi ki te kanohi', face to face. In these situations, I observe and ask questions, then go on and apply this knowledge in a coaching situation.


Favourite author/movie: I rarely get a chance to read for pleasure. I would like to watch movies occasionally, but my husband usually gets to the remote first.

Favourite meal: I love corned beef

What is your why?

I like giving back to a sport that I got a lot from and also to the community I grew up in. I like to see people having a similar experience to what I had and seeing the expressions of joy on their faces when they're successful, especially after they have worked hard and not expected the success.

Some of these opportunities, like travelling out of the region, are important to these kids to see the world from a different perspective. It helps grow them as young people.

How did you get into coaching?

I started coaching at high school, after a session with national coach Yvonne [Willering]. Coaching resonated with me and I wanted to see if I could bring the same feeling to others that Yvonne did to me.

Who has been the most influential coach/person in your life?

One would be Yvonne Willering. I attended a coaching session with her when I was 18. She was a straight up person, much like myself. She 'turned the lights on' for me and made it all really fun.

The other would be Claire Stensness, a local lady who coached me when I was younger and who made her coaching mark, not only in Northland, but also at North Harbour.

What has been your most memorable moment coaching?

In 2017, I took Kaitaia College to the UNISS netball tournament where we won the B grade and progressed into the A grade - the first time ever for the school. The joy was very apparent on the girls faces and the tears flowed.

How has your coaching changed?

Not too much has changed for me. I still learn from others. These days, I focus a bit more on the players understanding why they are doing something rather than just doing what I tell them.

How has coaching/sport changed?

Sport is a bit more technical. We have better equipment and more of it. Balls are better, footwear is better, uniforms are better. We have special resources to prepare players for games and trainings.

Girls now also train at the gym to play netball – that never used to happen. To train for netball we played netball. I think the gym and other equipment are now amazing additional resources.

What is the importance of coaching in the sector?

Coaching is very important. It helps gel girls together. No one can stand out alone. Team spirit spills over into other areas of your life. Coaching netball is more than just coaching the skills and the game, it's about coaching people to be better people.

What is your number one coaching tip?

Every team can be beaten – believe it!