Could one of Queensland’s most famous netballers be the final puzzle piece the Sunshine Coast Lightning needed to return to the top in 2021?
The Suncorp Super Netball’s most dominant side in history pulled off a major coaching coup when the club announced Vicki Wilson OAM would join the ranks as an Assistant Coach to Coach Kylee Byrne.
Wilson has had an esteemed career as both a player and as a coach and will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role.
Incoming Assistant Coach Wilson said she was excited to join the Lightning, and reconnecting with former teammate Byrne.
“I’m so excited at the moment I just hopped out the car, and I said to Kyles, wooo, just a deep breath,” she said.
“Just to get the opportunity to work with such an amazing club, with a wonderful history, and to reconnect with Kyles and sit alongside her in the coaching forum.
“To work with athletes of the calibre that we have on the playing list is just so exciting and I can’t wait to get started out on the court.
“For me, it’s always about, what can we do better, to make that difference?
“We’re forever being curious about how we can move the game forward, how we can make the players better, to take that next step.”
In Wilson’s eyes, the Lightning’s strong continued success comes down to the strong culture in the club.
“The way they [the Lightning] went about it, the important thing was the culture, and it was always about the athlete, it was athlete-centred, and that’s really the most important thing.”
Lightning Coach Byrne – who herself worked under supercoach Dame Noeline Taurua on the Sunshine Coast during an era of dominance – said Wilson joining the club is a full circle for the pair.
“My coaching journey with Vick started about 12 years ago when she took me on for my first netball coaching opportunity at Queensland Firebirds,” she said.
“So to have her now alongside me at the club I now call home, where we’ve had so much success, is just so exciting and I think today is just another thing that’ll give us a point of difference and take us to the future.”
Wilson brings a resume that boasts roles as head coach with the Queensland Firebirds for four seasons, an assistant with the Silver Ferns and, most recently, head coach of the Fiji Pearls side.
It’s this wide breadth of experience that adds layers to Wilson’s versatility according to Byrne.
“The expertise that Vicki’s picked up not only through coaching the Silver Ferns, the Fiji Pearls, and all around the world- even working with some English clubs,” she said.
“It shows that what Vicki can add, is right across the board.”
Wilson, in addition to her coaching career, represented Australia for 15 years, going on to captain the side to their first-ever netball gold medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. She also played in three World Cup-winning Diamonds sides (1991, 1995, 1999).
But what about the Super Shot?
The Suncorp Super Shot, introduced to the Suncorp Super Netball, was one the most controversial aspects of season 2020 – but Vicki Wilson is excited to work with the club’s goalers to find the right balance.
“I don’t mind it to be honest,” she said.
“I think there’s a whole technical side to it, a tactical side, a tactical element to the game.
“But it’s there, and I think we have to learn how to utilise it, we have great shooters in the team who can make those shots, and it’s about how we can use it and use it to our advantage.
“But also you have to think about how to shut it down because if a team gets a run of two pointers, then it’s going to be very, very tough to beat.”