For the love of the game

ROSEMARY Sztorch knows a bit about human nature ? and she doesn't find all of it especially appealing. Over the past 20 years as a leading netball coach and administrator in Coffs Harbour, Mrs Sztorch and her husband, Colin, have devoted a great chunk of their lives to the sport of netball. They love the game that has eaten up their winters ? and a bit of their springs and autumns ? since their daughter, Natalie, then aged 7, dragged them along to the showgrounds and signed up for the Surfside Club. In some ways it seems like only yesterday to this dedicated Coffs couple, joint winners of the local association's 2004 coach-of-the-year award. They have loved their links with the game and its people. But in other respects it has been a very long haul. Rosemary Sztorch puts it this way: "Netball takes over our lives in the winter. We have just one day a week where we are free to do what we like. For the rest of it, we are committed to netball. "There are some wonderful rewards. It's terrific watching kids improve and nothing can beat the beaming smiles of girls coming off the court ? when they've tried hard and everything's worked. "But the other side is not quite so appealing, like the abuse from some parents for the decisions you make. It really hurts and at times you wonder why you bother. "I feel utter frustration when Colin and I have spent half the week coaching and attending meetings and games ? and then find we can't get enough parents to go on the canteen roster for half an hour every five weeks." This season Mr and Mrs Sztorch coached five Surfside teams and completed their 15th year as representative coaches. What spare time remaining was chewed up by club and association administrative duties. The couple are honoured at their 2004 coaching award, but Mr Sztorch would have been quite happy for the accolade to have gone to a younger coach. "We've gone past the trophy stage," he said. Mr Sztorch is modest about his coaching skills ? "I'm not the world's greatest coach" ? and wonders if he doesn't get just a little too intense on the sideline and yell too loudly. Their influence has touched hundreds of local girls and helped them to grow into disciplined and focused citizens. But it can't go on forever. In a year or two when they decide they want more time for their other great passion, camping and travelling, who will be there to take their place?

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