Toowoomba's Firebirds star calls time on career
NETBALL: When Laura Clemesha calls time on her career at season's end she will do so with a happy heart.
Clemesha's time with the Queensland Firebirds had its fair share of bumps but the talented defender wouldn't have it any other way.
Making her National League debut in 2013 Clemesha was dropped the following year before returning to be part of the Firebirds premiership winning 2015 and 2016 teams.
"I was devastated. But it really gave me an opportunity to take stock and reassess,” she said.
"I went back to state netball and really played just for the pure fun of it.
"I worked on my strength and my fitness, which is what Rose (coach Roselee Jencke) had recommended and I didn't really expect to get picked again, but then when I was offered the opportunity in 2015, I jumped at it.”
Clemesha's determination did not go unnoticed and the 27-year-old, who was born in Toowoomba and developed her game at Downlands, was presented with a massive opportunity - the chance to replace Laura Geitz in the defensive circle.
"My time with the Firebirds has been fantastic,” she said.
"I've played with so many great players and made friendships that will last a lifetime - we really are like a big family.
"I basically had a three year apprenticeship under Geitzy (Laura Geitz) which was incredible.
"She was just so generous with her knowledge and wanting to impart as much education to me as she could.
"I remember when she announced her retirement in the dressing room after the 2016 final. I thought to myself 'wow now might be my time'.
"I promised myself I wouldn't take anything for granted though, until they handed me the role I would have to work hard.
"I never set about trying to fill her shoes - I think that would've been an impossible task. Geitzy is one of the greatest players we've ever had.
"My goal was to make it my own - to put my stamp on it - to work hard and have fun.”
That focus is also something Clemesha wants the next generation of female athletes to think about.
"I can't imagine what it would be like to be 10 or 11-year-old female athlete now,” she said.
"There are just so many opportunities now.
"One thing I would say, is no matter what you do, make it yours.
"Bring what is intrinsically you to your team.
"When I look at the Firebirds I see there no one player mould. As long as you work hard and enjoy yourself you can succeed.”
Clemesha will now focus on completing her masters of organisational psychology.
"I'm really looking forward to getting my weekends back,” she said.
"Being able to wake on a Saturday, walk to the markets, enjoy a cup of tea and not have to worry about being anywhere.”
Queensland's first Suncorp Super Netball derby among her favourite memories.
"Our first match with the Sunshine Coast Lightning was pretty special. It was the first Suncorp Super Netball and my first game replacing Laura (Geitz). The atmosphere was amazing and the game was great. Both teams battled it out and in the end we finished with a draw. I hardly slept that night because I was on such a high.”
The 2019 season to date
"This year hasn't been the easiest for us. We still haven't got a win yet but I will say the vibe has been fantastic. Other teams might have fallen apart by now by everyone has come together. We're all pushing in the same direction and supporting each other. We're a family and we've been there for each other all season.”