Laura Scherian is a current Sunshine Coast Lightning netball player and debuted for the Australian Diamonds for the first time in the Constellation Cup in 2019. With a background in naturopathy and nutrition, Laura has started ‘Shez’s Kitchen’ which aims to educate people on the benefits of home cooking and eating well. Laura has over 12 years of netball coaching experience and is passionate about boosting player’s confidence and developing their love for netball. In this conversation we chat about impactful coaches as well as fostering persistence in your putting yourself out there.
How did you find netball?
I lived in a little town in Victoria called Gisborne and mum coached my sister’s team. Every week I’d go down and one week they were short a player, which I was a little too excited about. I stepped in to play wing defence and never looked back.
You mentioned your mum very casually there. When we spoke to Maddy McAuliffe last year, she said that your mum was one of the pivotal coaches in her netball journey. How did that play out?
For me in netball, my mum was just my mum. She was very supportive of whatever I wanted to do and never pushed me to do anything I didn’t want to do. I never really realised how experienced she was until we started moving around specifically for her coaching job. It was quite funny because even to this day I don’t really listen to her when it comes to netball stuff. She’s definitely awesome to bounce stuff off but it’s never about skills, it’s just normal stuff that a kid would talk to their mum about.
Looking at your netball career, being an Australian Diamond and being a member of the very successful Sunshine Coast Lightning team, it would be easy for people to think that your path has been really easy. I know that hasn’t been the case, can you tell us a little about those years that were a struggle?
I got a contract straight out of the AIS to play for the Queensland Firebirds in 2010 and wasn’t re-contracted for 2011. That was really tough for me because I had a taste for playing professionally and then it was gone. I then wasn’t recontracted until the Lightning which wasn’t until 2017.
My path was a little bit different, but I think throughout that time I learnt a lot about myself on and off the netball court. It actually shaped me into a better person and a better player for my team. Throughout those 6 years that I wasn’t playing professionally, I was still playing in the Australian Netball League (which is just under Super Netball), so I was still trying to be seen and put myself out there if any opportunities did arise.
A couple of times throughout those years I was called into the Firebirds squad to travel and I regularly trained with them. I was always sending videos and emails to coaches to keep my name out there because you never know what’s going to come up. I also finished my university degree and worked at a fantastic health food store where I had the opportunity to manage stores and develop those skills.
At the time, it was devasting to not be playing netball professionally but there are other things in life that I needed to learn as well.
Do you think it made you appreciate the contract when you did get the call?
Definitely! I don’t necessarily think I was lucky in my younger years, because I did work really hard to get into those squads, but I think the opportunities came quite regularly. That was my first major letdown and a 6-year wait is quite a long time. Part of me thought the call was never going to come. I remember talking to mum about potentially not sending through those emails that year, but I just decided to give it one more go and so glad I did!
Did it get easier to keep up that persistence?
I think it got harder as I got older and younger girls were coming through ANL and getting those opportunities. It was something that I had to stay confident with. I knew that if the opportunity came, I would be ready to go.
That was a big thing for me – to stay positive and know within myself that I had what it takes. Even with training, I made sure I was doing the same amount of sessions as I would if I was still playing professionally.
How did you foster those skills about living in the moment?
Playing for the Firebirds in my younger years, I always wanted to be fitter and faster than the other girls. I was always trying to achieve more rather than being happy with what I had. When I started playing for Lightning, I was really stressed for the first few weeks. I then realised I needed to take a step back to realise the amazing environment I was in and enjoy the opportunities because I didn’t want to lose it again.
That was definitely a turning point for me, realising that I have to focus on being the best player for my team. It’s important to focus on what you can do better to contribute to the team rather than how you can be better as an individual.
Your Lightning group is really cohesive, and you’ve achieved so much together. How did you find your place in that team?
It’s really an amazing culture to be part of and playing a part in creating that has been awesome. I think Noels, right from the start, was about what you’re good at as an individual and celebrating each player’s uniqueness. I can’t rave enough about Noels and Kylee. They did so much for the team as well as me as an individual. Noels just looks at the game a little differently, partly because of her experience in New Zealand but she’s also a person who thinks outside the box.
Noels leads us to the answers rather than feeding it to us which develops our thinking skills on the court.
What about your experience debuting for the Diamonds last year, what an incredible opportunity! Tell us about that
Learning from my first 3 weeks with Lightning, I realised I didn’t have 3 weeks to settle in – it was only a 3-week tour! I just enjoyed it right from the start. In the first game, one of the coaches said they were looking at changing it up on the attack end. I remember looking around wondering who they were going to put on and then they looked at me. Before I knew it, I was on the court.
I didn’t really have time to think about it, so I didn’t have the time to overthink it.
How did you find it going into that new group and what recommendations would you have for young athletes transitioning into new teams?
It’s really important to be yourself and not try too hard to fit in. You need to identify what you have to give and know that it’s going to be different from everyone else. You need to be confident in yourself because you were picked for a reason.
How did you manage that position change?
I didn’t mind it at all. When you have coaches and support staff who you trust, you can be confident. Being able to trust that they know what’s best, it made me really excited. Growing up, I’d always played WA so I wanted to prove to myself that I could go back to that position. Once I got in there, it was like pulling on an old pair of trackies. Once I had a few games under my belt, I knew it was better to have that positional flexibility. I just focussed on my job from the basics – I knew what I had to do so I just tried to remain calm.
Tell us about your passion for food as medicine
I love cooking and have a strong passion for it. I’ve started Shez’s Kitchen which is my way to share that with everyone. I’m passionate about people getting back into the kitchen and cooking together. That’s the main purpose. It’s also about having good nutrition and wholefoods but it’s also about eating with people. For me growing up, I have really fond memories of cooking with my nan and I don’t think we do that enough as a society. It’s now all about premade meals and quick meals so I’m trying to get people to think more about cooking.
You can watch the recording of our conversation with Laura Scherian on IGTV
You also can hear more about the netball journeys with Steph Wood, Karla Pretorius and Madeline McAuliffe
You can find more of Shez’s incredible recipes here