Fitzpatrick grabs Pulse opportunity with both hands
For netball nomad Sulu Fitzpatrick, finding her way to Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse for the 2018 ANZ Premiership could well prove the turning point in a promising but unfulfilled career.
With most of the early attention focussed on the Pulse’s talented youngsters, the strongly-built defender has slipped in quietly under the radar. It has come with plenty of sacrifice but Fitzpatrick has signalled it as the best decision of her career.
The well-travelled and engaging Fitzpatrick has played at various stages, with the exception of the Tactix, for every team in New Zealand at the elite level. However, as with the rich array of up-and-coming talent she is surrounded by at the Pulse and still only 25 herself, Fitzpatrick’s best netballing years are probably yet to come.
With four-year-old twins, Tevita and Theresa, it was now or never for Fitzpatrick, whose home is in Auckland.
``It’s probably the best decision I have made for netball, just in terms of where I am in life…..the age that the kids are at, they start school next year, so if there was any time to do what I have done, it was this year,’’ she said.
``It’s the first time I have been away from the kids, so it’s been a huge challenge but the environment here has helped me, not just netball-wise, but just helped me grow in heaps of ways.
``My kids are the family kids. They’re the first grandkids on both sides, so there’s a family village on hand to help raise them. They have a lot of love, so I’m not worried about that. I am really grateful that I have family that have allowed me to pursue this opportunity with the Pulse.’’
A former New Zealand Secondary School representative and NZU21 captain, Fitzpatrick first burst onto the scene as a schoolgirl in 2010 when turning out for the Northern Mystics.
Making the Silver Ferns squad in 2011 as a 19-year-old and playing a one-off test against England the same year, the 1.88m Fitzpatrick, a mobile and aerially-strong in-circle defender, never really kicked on with her career but there’s a feeling that’s about to change.
Fitzpatrick has embraced her opportunity with the Pulse in wholehearted fashion, going to places she’s never been before in terms of her preparation with profound effect, including losing a whopping 21kg in weight since December.
``I came into pre-season with an extra helping……the weight loss has been steady and gradual,’’ she said. ``It has come off as part of just eating healthy and training hard. It’s a change that I want to maintain for the rest of my life.
``This is probably the healthiest and best prepared I’ve been for any season since I was at school. I’m feeling really good, and think because of leaving the kids, my family and my partner that I didn’t want to waste that sacrifice. If I was going to be here in Wellington, I wanted to give it my best and make it worth it for them.
``It’s a long season and however it turns out, I definitely just know that I have prepared the best I possibly could and I’ve never been able to say that before.’’
The Pulse next meet the Tactix in Wellington on Monday, both teams making perfect starts to the season to remain unbeaten.
``They’re looking very, very strong throughout the whole court and we’re going to have to prepare well for them,’’ Fitzpatrick said. ``I think it’s going to be a tough one, especially with the potential tall timber (Ellie Bird and Kate Beveridge) in the shooting end but I’m looking forward to it.’’