Future Diamond Jo Weston ready to shine
12 Oct 2015
Jo Weston knows she has big shoes to fill representing the future of Australian netball after being selected in the Diamonds squad for the upcoming Constellation Cup series against New Zealand.
The Melbourne Vixens defender personifies the pathway of Australian netball. Weston was part of the AIS scholarship program, which has evolved into AIS-based camps as part of the Netball Australia Centre of Excellence.
Now the 21-year-old is looking forward to the next step, joining the world-champion Diamonds for the Constellation Cup series against New Zealand.
The 188cm Victorian was among 21 athletes – including five other players selected in the Australian squad for the Constellation Cup – taking part in the recent Diamonds Future Focus Camp at the AIS.
“I first came to the AIS when I was about 17 for a talent identification camp and once I finished Year 12 I came up to the Australian Institute of Sport on scholarship for 2011 and 2012,” Weston, 21, said. “So whilst I was here, I was fortunate enough to play with the AIS in the Australian Netball League and to be selected in the Australian Under-21 team.
“I think being able to train with a group of girls who are of a very similar age group and similar mindset in terms of their netball career objectives, and also the facilities are world class, were great parts of being at the AIS.
“It was amazing being able to walk to the gym or to walk to training at the courts … the coaching especially was one of the things that really drew me up here.
“(Under the Centre of Excellence model) I was involved in the defence specialist camp [at the AIS] last year so that was about eight girls from all around Australia who play specifically defence positions on the court. We were here for four or five days and it was quite intense in terms of training and obviously very specialised coaching.”
“My selection into the Constellation Cup camp came as a bit of a surprise for me,” Weston said. “I haven’t had any open-age Australian experience other than with the Fast5 team for the last two years.
“I’m quite fortunate to progress to the squad straight away. Normally it might be a different pathway, so I’m really looking forward to it, playing with the world champions. So there’s big shoes to fill in terms of a couple of retirements, but I’m really looking forward to the opportunity.
“My future in netball depends on my performances in the Constellation Cup and how I progress. I’m very lucky to have a good home training base with the Vixens down in Melbourne and we have great coaches down there and that also facilitates with the rest of the programs they have run under the (Netball Australia) Centre of Excellence. So I’m hoping to continue to be in the squad and really push for selection.
“A couple of the Diamonds have spoken to me (about my selection in the squad). I’m lucky to have Madi Robinson back home in Melbourne. It’s really nice to have her support in the gym because the training intensity has really stepped up for me, so it’s really nice to have that guidance looking forward.”
Australian netball coach Lisa Alexander said the Future Diamonds camp provided athletes with “a really good taste of what we expect at the Diamonds level”.
“We’re getting these athletes prepared so they could step up into a Diamonds Test team if needed,” she said.
“We’re also broadening our base by bringing along the generation underneath the actual team, keeping up-to-date with specific Diamonds tactics and strategies, and the actual technical work we’ve been doing with the team.”
The other players at the Future Diamonds camp selected for the four-Test Constellation Cup series - starting on October 20 - included Ashleigh Brazill, April Letton, Clare McMeniman, Gabi Simpson and Gretel Tippett.
For more about the Constellation Cup, visit the Netball Australia website