Since she was a child, Rotorua's Tayla Earle has dreamed of playing netball at the highest level.
The 18-year-old has long been touted as a star in the making and she has taken a big step towards achieving that dream when she signed for ANZ Premiership team the Northern Mystics for the 2019 season.
"I was super stoked, shocked, super excited - there were a lot of different feelings. I started playing netball when I was about 10 and the dream has always been to play for a franchise, play on TV and play with the best players, which I will be next year," Earle says.
"I've already learned so much from the other players, just going in for pre-season. I'll be eased into the whole idea of full-on training next year, but my big goal is just to develop my skills and get some game time.
"I want to learn heaps from the other girls and get an idea and understanding of what the ANZ Premiership is like. I need to go in with an open mind, but with confidence as well.
"I've already had heaps of messages from the other girls and they're all so lovely. They've been so welcoming, they're really nice and it's like a big family. It actually is a childhood dream come true, playing and training with top players, including some Silver Ferns."
Earle started secondary school at Rotorua Girls' High School and at the end of Year 10 moved to Auckland to attend Saint Kentigern College. The move meant she could play at a higher level of competition, while also being more visible to netball scouts.
"I was sort of getting noticed back home, but not by as big of selectors as I did up here. Coming to St Kents gave me more exposure to the high performance netball environment, playing in a really hard competition with girls who have all the same goals.
"I have heaps of good memories from Rotorua Girls' and my coach Hinei Taute-Collier played a big part in my development. Rotorua will always be my home, my stomping ground where I first started playing netball."
She also represented her country last week, playing for the New Zealand Secondary Schools team against England and Australia under-17 teams in Canberra.
"We won most of our games, we drew our last one and lost one. It was sort of a development camp, so it wasn't really about the competition a such. We won a game against England, that was probably our most competitive game."
When asked what she learned from the experience, Earle said "the Aussies are quick, that's for sure" - perhaps something the Silver Ferns can relate to at present.
"It was good fun though, I learned a lot from the coaches and all the younger girls as well."
Her ultimate long-term goal, like many young Kiwis, was to become a Silver Fern.
"I need to keep developing my skills and become a lot stronger. I need to be exposed to the ANZ Premiership and how tough it is, then just start working from there."
Well aware of how short a sporting career can be, Earle plans to tackle tertiary study next year as well.
"I've applied to do some type of study at Auckland Uni and AUT, I just have to wait until my grades come out, then I'll decide what i want to do. I'm looking at something to do with sciences or med at the moment.
"I've always been interested in helping people, so i think that would be a good thing to do in the off-season."