Thanks to Adele’s emotional surprise reunion with her English teacher during An Audience with Adele, a lot of us have been thinking about the teachers who made the most impact on us growing up – especially the black women teachers. I never had a black teacher, man or woman, but I started thinking about the other black women role models in my life, and my netball coach immediately came to mind.
Between the ages of 13 and 16, netball was life for me. My weeks were ruled by my training schedule – Monday evenings I trained with my club, Wednesday was the day for my school team practice, County trials and training were another weekday down and weekends were occupied by matches and tournaments.
I loved netball, and being more or less the same height then as I was now (5’11”), netball loved me. But it wasn’t until my club coach left and Joan entered the picture that I really took the sport – and myself – seriously. At first, I was intimidated by Joan, mostly because before joining South Birmingham (a club whose ages ranged from 9 to sixteen years old) she was the coach of a formidable adult team. I remember hearing on the grapevine how she had turned the club around and she was not one to be messed with, and as soon as she joined, a new level of discipline was expected from all of us.