AUSTRALIAN NETBALL CAPTAIN
Despite winning championships across the globe, this star athlete tells Claire Mactaggart that a farm in Queensland’s Darling Downs is calling her home.
‘cuppa’ features prominently in the memories of Laura Geitz; whether it was poured from an old teapot at the kitchen table or enjoyed from a Thermos in a paddock on the family farm near Allora, almost 2½ hours south-west of Brisbane. It was a daily ritual for the family — parents Ross and Juanita, and older sister Carla. “It was always an occasion when Dad came home from out working and said, ‘I’m going to put the billy on.’ Then we’d sit down and have smoko together,” Laura says. Although the 27-year-old is based in Brisbane, and travels regularly as captain of the Australian Diamonds Netball team and the Queensland Firebirds, she loves to return to the family grain and cattle property on the Darling Downs at weekends. Last year, Laura and husband Mark Gilbride, a former professional rugby union player, purchased 105 hectares of the property and hope to raise a family there. “I still call Allora home and I love the thought of one day putting up a little cottage there,” Laura says. “I’d love nothing better than for my children to grow up in a small country town and have that link back home.”
AFrom the very start, Laura was hooked by netball. “When I was 14 and had just started playing, I said to Mum, ‘I’m going to play netball for Queensland and Australia.’ Mum said, ‘Oh jeez, that’s a bit of a stretch — how are you going to get there?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, but I’ll get there!’ ” Laura soon found a way and was representing Queensland and Australia at the under-17 level. She became captain of the Australian Institute of Sport Darters in 2007, and in 2011, with the Firebirds, won the ANZ Championship, followed by the World Championships with the Diamonds. Another career highlight came last year when the Diamonds won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Laura and Mark were married in 2012, and together they market a range of netball apparel and equipment. Just months after their wedding, Laura’s father Ross was killed in a farm accident. “He was the most wonderful person and role model, a genuine, hardworking and kind-hearted man… I hope I carry some of those values,” she says. Laura will lead the Australian team to the Netball World Cup in Sydney this month.