Netball: Parris Mason – ‘My confidence was basically diminished’

One of the country’s most exciting young defenders says being dropped after her first year of elite netball felt like the end of the world.

There aren’t many players who pick up full ANZ Premiership contracts as 18-year-olds in their first year out of high school, but Parris Mason was tipped as a player to watch at a young age.

However, she got very minimal court time in 2021 in her first year with the Pulse and was dropped to the National Netball League feeder side for 2022.

Last year, Mason was promoted back into the Pulse. She sat behind experienced Australian defender Kristiana Manu’a, but got regular short bursts on court and had a great impact.

This year the 21-year-old got the nod as the Pulse’s starting goal defence and is thriving.

“I’m really enjoying being able to take that starting position each week. It’s a big privilege that I’ve been working towards for a couple of years now. Obviously, it took me a little bit to find my feet.

“I think I’m still adjusting to being a front-line player, and being someone who has to take on big moments and big plays but I’ve got such great support around me.

“I’ve got two really good leaders down my defensive end, with Fa’amu [Ioane] my right hand man and Kelly [Jackson] at the back, so they make it really easy for me to come in. They’ve given me so much confidence to just go out there every week and just do my best and continue to show what I can do.”

Mason said being dropped after her first year of elite level netball was tough to take.

“It was not something that was very enjoyable to go through. I think it was really hard for every aspect of me as a netballer, my confidence was basically diminished, and I think it was a really hard time to get through and mentally just being an 18-year-old, that was something I really, really struggled with.”

Mason said the Pulse were clear where she stood.

“They believed that I was definitely the future of the Pulse, but for that time I wasn’t ready in their eyes.

“Basically I just had to go back out there with a mindset that not that they were wrong, but I just needed to show that actually I am here, I’m going to be the future. And I think that’s what kind of got me through, was knowing that I can be there if I just persevere.

“And it was really great to be able to get recontracted that following year, but at the start it felt like the end of the world. But at the end of the day no hardship goes on forever and I think once I made it out the other end, I’m starting to see that bright light at the end of the tunnel and I’m really enjoying my netball again.”

NELSON, NEW ZEALAND - Parris Mason of the Queens Tauihi Basketball Final Tokomanawa Queens v Northern Kahu Trafalgar Centre ,Nelson. New Zealand. Saturday 27 August 2022. (Photo by Evan Barnes/Shuttersport Limited)

Mason said it took time to build a fitness base to last a full game in the ANZ Premiership.

“I think the fitness you have to be at to compete in our league, the strength you have to have to compete in our league, is really being pushed to the max at the moment.

“I’m still getting used to that game fitness, with my first year being able to run out a full 60 minutes in the ANZ is taking a toll on my body. I’m slowly adjusting, and I’m getting better, but it’s definitely hard to prepare yourself for such high intensity… I definitely was not an ANZ-built player at the age of 18.”

Predominantly a goalkeeper in her school days, Mason has taken time to transition into the goal defence role since coming on board as a teenager – but positive signs are emerging. The Pulse have the best defensive record in the ANZ Premiership so far, conceding just 45.4 goals per match.

An accomplished basketballer, Mason made her debut for the Tall Ferns last year, but her selection in the 2023-24 Silver Ferns development squad put her focus into netball for the immediate future. For the last two years Mason has also played in New Zealand’s professional women’s basketball league, but she will be sitting this one out.

Earlier this year Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa announced a raft of changes, including doubling player wages and opening up the opportunity for international teams to join the league.

The league is also moving its playing season to October, November and December, a time in the New Zealand sporting calendar that organisers believe will give women’s basketball the best possible exposure to fans.

It also coincides with the Silver Ferns international window, and Mason is not shy about her desire to crack into the national environment.

“I am going into the season really hoping to crack one of the Ferns environments. I was giving 50 percent of my energy to netball and 50 percent to basketball. As well as I can manage that, I think one deserves all of my energy and all my attention, and I think right now I’m really trying to focus on my netball.

“I love basketball and what it gives me. It’s a release from netball, but right now I want to give everything I have into netball and with the new league dates it’s not quite realistic if I was to be lucky enough to make the Silver Ferns environment.

“So at the moment I’m just really focusing on giving all my energy and really trying to fulfil my potential in netball, even though I’m going to miss it dearly. I think I’m really going to struggle watching everyone else get out there, but I know that this is probably what’s best for me at the moment.”

Mason plays a fearless brand of netball and is somewhat unorthodox compared to other defenders in New Zealand.

Pulse's Parris Mason (R and Pulse's captain Kelly Jury (L) with Steel's Kate Heffernan (C  during the ANZ Premiership Wellington Pulse vs Steel netball match at the TSB Arena in Wellington. 17 April 2023. © Copyright image by Marty Melville /

“I think when I’m on the basketball court, it’s very clear I’m a netballer and when I’m on a netball court, it’s clear I’m a basketballer. I’m just going out there and doing what I can really and I want to get balls… wherever that’s coming, I’m just going to go for my opportunities anywhere.”

Mason has been firing balls as far as two-thirds of the way down the court to her goal shooter when there’s an opportunity.

“I just see it and throw it. I’ve got the confidence, I’ve always had it. It’s just my vision, which I think I do get from basketball. I can just see the space a bit better and see all the options.

“That might be throwing it two-thirds of the way down court and scaring my coaches and giving them a couple of grey hairs, but it gets there most of the time – and most of the time they applaud how well I open up the court and the vision.”

Mason’s performances in this year’s ANZ Premiership have caught the eye of Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua.

“Parris has been doing a great job, and that’s probably her connection as well with Kelly [Jackson], but she’s turning over a lot of ball… I’ve been impressed with her, and she just got a bit of fight and a bit of spirit behind her,” Dame Noeline said.

“She can do the one-on-one marking quite tight, and you know it exposes to some degree our goal attacks, which is sort of similar marking as what they do in Australia. She’s also a hunter, so she’s not afraid to leave the circle to go out for a hunt.”

Mason grew up in Taranaki and attended Manukura school in Palmerston North, which has a strong netball programme. Mason is one of five children and was always destined to be sporty.

“Both my parents are very sporty and my mum was my first netball coach. My Dad helped me a lot more in the basketball side of things.

“He’s very involved with my brothers’ rugby. For most of my childhood every weekend we were at the fields watching my Mum or Dad play their sport or my two older brothers, I was watching them all the time. Now it’s my little brothers who are playing sport every weekend, so my parents are involved in that and supporting them.”

The Pulse will play for the inaugural Robyn Broughton Legacy Trophy against the Steel in Invercargill on Monday night.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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