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Off Court: Whitney Souness

Off Court: Whitney Souness

Welcome to Off Court, where we delve into the lives of some of our favourite netballers and get to know them a little better outside of sport. Up first we chat to Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse and Silver Ferns midcourter/Wellington club DJ Whitney Souness, aka DJTINO.

Kia ora Whitney – first of all, I’ve just listened to some of your DJ beats and you’re brilliant! How can you be that good at music AND netball at the same time?!

Oh, that’s so nice! [Laughs]. I actually did a full-time course for a year to learn the basics of DJing, and I’ve spent a lot of time practicing with tutors and coaches, as well as the good old YouTube tutorials. I actually picked up the hobby during lockdown, so it was really good to spend all the time learning something new.

What made you want to give it a go? 

Well, my uncle was a DJ and I’ve always loved music, and it’s always been an important part of my life. So a few friends eventually said, ‘why don’t you just give it a go?’ and they gave me the little push I needed – they even helped me find my first mixing controller too. I was lucky to have so many people around me who I could pick their brains.

Is DJing a real escape for you? I know playing netball at the elite level you do must be overwhelming at times! 

Yeah, kind of. There’s a bit of that, but it’s also just that I love music, and being able to create it and set a vibe, whether that’s in the club or at a low-key party, is awesome. It’s great to have something else that I really love, and to be able to share that with people. It’s a cool experience, not just for me!

Do you bring your decks to trainings? 

Yeah, sometimes! We’ll sometimes have little get-togethers and I’ll just bring my stuff and a speaker and just jam.

Do you have a genre you love playing? 

Definitely old school – 90s, 2000s, even 70s and 80s – but I’m learning new genres like house music too. I’m starting to branch out and try and learn because it’s all so different, and I’m still learning as I go. But I really do love old school, that’s what goes off in the clubs in Wellington.

I mean I’m kind of generalising here, but I guess when you’re an elite athlete, perhaps you aren’t going to the clubs as much as other women your age – so this is a great way to still do that? 

[Laughs] Yeah, exactly!

I’ve also seen you talk about being a big believer in having balance, and a life away from netball. Why do you think that’s so important? 

Netball is such a huge part of our lives and it takes up so much time – training, playing games and everything else. It’s such a huge privilege to do what we do, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t sacrifices, and we do miss out on things. I’ve been passionate on, well, being passionate about other things too! Honestly, having something away from netball, like DJing, keeps me sane. You’re happier and honestly a better netball player when you have that balance.

What would a normal (non-playing!) Saturday look like for you? 

I still live with my parents and my aunty, so we spend heaps of time together, and I have nieces and nephews that are here all weekend. So it’s a lot of time hanging out with the family, and I also have a dog, Blue, as well, so there’s lots of walks! He keeps me busy!

And to go back to netball for a second, how do you feel your ANZ Premiership season has started? 

I think we had a rocky start – it’s been a little up and down for us. But we’re a young team and we have a few new faces, so I’m really excited to see how we grow. The vibe is really positive and fun, and we get along so well. Happy players are always going to be better players.

And I guess it’s a bit of weird year with the Netball World Cup looming, and those coveted Silver Fern dresses up for grabs – does that affect you when you’re playing? 

Yeah, we all really feel it in a Netball World Cup year. It’s a hard position to be in because there isn’t a trial at the end, we’re being judged on our whole performance throughout the year. So, every game counts, and at the end of the day we’re focussing on our franchise teams. But it is at the back of our heads, for sure!