Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Tscharke set to ignite the Flames

As far as journeymen – or in this case, journeywomen – are concerned, Lauren Tscharke is a premium case of letting her aspirations guide her and fulfilling the mantra ‘whatever it takes’.

Her netballing ambitions have seen her leave the seclusions of Adelaide as mild-mannered but proud South Australian, through to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and now as a Melbournian.

Lauren Tscharke (left) pictured here with Monash
teammate Georgie Davenport. Source: Instagram.
Slim, blonde and swift around the court, it’s not difficult to understand why the 27-year-old has been catching the eye of Victorian selectors with a host of stand out performances in the first half of season 2013.

Now boasting two Victorian teams in the upcoming season of the Australian Netball League, Tscharke was rewarded last Wednesday with selection in Victoria’s newest outfit, the Flames.

Despite a host of credentials already a part of a very impressive résumé, the former South Australian rates her inclusion to the Flames as one of her proudest achievements.

“To get the news, I’m just very excited and very honoured,” Tscharke said.

“Coming across from South Australia, I’ve always been quite envious of the level of standard and competition of netball in Victoria.

“Having represented South Australia in the ANL, I’d always seen Victoria as kind of the benchmark of opposition, so to be a part of them now is an achievement of which I’m really proud.”

The formal selection process began on May 3, culminating in weeks of strenuous squad training and fitness testing, where Tscharke said she relished in “the opportunity to push myself with the intensity of training”.

As much of a testament it is for both Tscharke and Monash skipper Helen Barclay – chosen for the Victorian Fury – Netball Victoria High Performance Manager, Eloise Southby-Halbish said the high calibre of the two teams is a testament to the level of netball in Victoria and an exciting prospect for young netballers in the state.

“This is a very exciting year for Victorian netball,” Southby-Halbish said.

“The selectors have found the process of selecting this squad very challenging and believe that we have picked the most in form and consistent performers within our premier Victorian Netball League competition.”

Having studied Occupational Therapy at University of South Australia before her interstate move, Tscharke now spends much her life as an osteotherapist.

Yet not so long ago, it was Tscharke’s turn to look after herself; previously suffering a serious knee injury and requiring a full reconstruction, which all but ended her year and dented her confidence.

Tossing up whether to continue her netballing ambitions, Tscharke went full circle before arriving at a conclusion totally opposed to her aspiration – I need to get out of here.

“I took off to Europe for six months and just wanted to go and see the world,” Tscharke said.

“It was tough having that setback of having a really serious injury.

“After I got over my knee and its disappointments, I went off to places like Berlin and just experienced something totally different to what I was comfortable with.”

Like many of her age, Tscharke’s raw view of the world transformed as she described the whole overseas experiences as much an “eye-opener…as it was rewarding”.

“I learnt more about myself and more about life in that half-year, than I almost did in the rest of my own life,” Tscharke said.

“I came back pretty proud of myself, because I knew I’d done something totally different that I hadn’t thought possible before.”

Tscharke’s new lease on life motivated her move to Melbourne and, most importantly, to her new netballing home at Monash University Central.

Her coach Leesa Maxfield praised Tscharke’s selection saying it was a testament to her durability and consistency in season 2013.

“The criteria for selection was that they had to perform at a high standard consistently,” Maxfield said.

“That meant that any one of our girls could’ve been selected, but it’s a tribute to Lauren and Helen who’ve been pivotal in our ability to suffocate the top teams with our defence.

“It’s a true credit to their consistency and work ethic.”

Life in the dark and light blue in recent times has been positive for Tscharke, who has stood up to the challenges posed to her and her Monash teammates this year.

“I think having that expectation to put my best foot forward and display my best form every week has really driven me,” Tscharke said.

“I’ve had some really healthy competition (in the mid court) with Tegan (Ashmore) and Lil (O’Sullivan), which has made me think ‘consistency’ on-court.”

A superb self-assessor, Tscharke slightly laments that her side hasn’t been able to duplicate her buzzword to the same degree.

“We’ve been inconsistent at best because we’ve been up there with every single team we’ve played.

“It’s the basic errors and just our ability to finish off games and take our chances; some of those one-point losses in the middle of the season have cost us places further up the ladder.

“It’s great being a really competitive group and having that want to succeed. Hopefully that will put us in good stead.”

But with five rounds to go of the regular season, Tscharke can’t help but look forward to what may lie ahead with her Flames’ experiences.

One of those will include coming face-to-face on-court with skipper and friend, Helen Barclay.

Being predominantly a Wing Attack and Barclay a notoriously energetic defender, the two Central teammates are almost sure to cross paths during the ANL competition.

“I get nervous at the best of times, so it’s going to be no different when I come up against Helen,” Tscharke laughs.

“She’s a fantastic teammate and she’s very deserving of her spot in the Fury. It’ll be a great challenge for me if we do cross paths.”

Yet for now, sitting just outside the top five and the goal of making finals a non-negotiable, Tscharke’s attention will be focussed on the coming Wednesday nights.

But as Monash fans, we can all take great delight that one of our own is well on her way, with great things to come.