What does it take to be an elite defender in netball? Agility? Speed? Long arms? Anticipation? Work ethic? You need all of the above to reach the top and Laura Geitz has all of them and more.
Geitz has an incredible ability to play night after night of incredible defence with a passion rarely seen.
At 185 centimetres she at times has to play against opponents six to seven centimetres taller, but what stands out is her ability to read the play and work the angles in such a short amount of time.
Netball these days is fast, physical and races from end to end, which makes playing in defence a nightmare. But Geitz makes it look easy.
The Queensland Firebirds and Australian Diamonds captain started with the Firebirds in 2008, which was the first year of the ANZ Championships. She was quickly ushered into the leadership group in 2011, the year the Firebirds went undefeated to take out the championship.
Geitz has been the captain of the Firebirds since 2012 and was a key member of their 2013 grand final team that fell short against the Thunderbirds by two goals. Again the Firebirds fell short in 2014, losing the grand final to the Vixens but bounced back to win the 2015 championship.
Geitz has won two netball world championships with the Diamonds and a gold medal at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. All in all, it has been an exceptional career from one of the most respected players to ever play the game.
Champion players have the ability to turn matches at the most crucial times, Geitz has made a career out of it. How many times have we seen tight matches between the Diamonds and Silver Ferns and seen the energy and great defensive presence of Geitz late in the contest to will the Diamonds across the line?
Often in sport we talk about the great attacking players that play the game and forget about the stars who defend like there is no tomorrow; tough, uncompromising and skilful. They can read the play quicker than most, always seem to be in a position to influence the contest no matter what, and hold exceptional leadership skills.
Geitz will go down as one of the greats and hopefully we continue to see her dominate the sport for years to come. At just 28 she will get to decide when it’s time, but from someone who has watched her play since her debut in 2008, here’s hoping it’s not anytime soon.
The Firebirds have a chance to go back to back this season. They will have challenges from the Swifts and maybe the Fever, possibly even the young Vixens, but as of now they are the team to beat.
With their key attacking players, one of the best centres in the world, and Geitz’s leadership and strength down back, they will take some beating. If they were to grab another championship the Geitz would become a three-time champion to add to her greatness.
As a captain you need to earn the respect of your teammates, Geitz not only holds that respect but her teammates look like they would walk over hot coals for her. You can’t ask for anything more than that.
Follow me on Twitter: jased1973