Last week I spoke with former Scotland international and Jersey Jets captain Jacy Brown about her netballing journey and what it feels like to be captain of the Jets ‘family’.
Jacy is a very talented player who has played at the highest levels, but is still down to earth as ever.
Have you always played netball?
Yes pretty much. When I was younger I played a lot of sports – athletics, swimming, tennis and of course netball. Linda Andrews (my coach) was actually my childminder from about 3 months old so that could be where my passion for the game came from. I played for Beaulieu in Year 4 and then played up a year which resulted in me playing for Jersey through all the age groups starting at U11. I have a very competitive nature and always excelled at sport. My main sports in my teens were swimming and netball and I then I took the decision to concentrate solely on netball. I think the team aspect of netball is the thing I loved the most.
When did you first know you were going to make it into the Jets first team?
Jets had actually been up and running for a few years before I joined, I was in my first couple of years at university playing for Scotland and Glasgow Wildcats at the time.
After I gave up international team commitments to concentrate on my studies, I joined Jets and would travel down from Glasgow at weekends to meet the team and play. We were in Regional League 1 when I became a part of the Jets family.
What position do you play? Have you always played in the same position?
Centre has always been my first choice position – I love being a game player and linking up defence and attack. I have also been known to play WD, this was more the case when playing for Scotland. I think WD is one of hardest positions to master. At playoffs last year I also rotated to WA which was sometimes needed to rest the legs over 4 intense games. But I’ve always been a mid-court play maker.
How long have you played for the Jersey Jets? What’s the journey been like?
Off the top of my head I think this is my 7th year playing for the Jets. It has been a rollercoaster of experiences. I was with the team when we achieved promotion into Premier League 3 and also went to the playoffs where we were promoted again, this time to Premier League 2, we managed to stay up for one season before being demoted back down to Prem 3. We did well to remain in the National Division after the playoffs earlier this year.
Do you have a favourite memory in netball?
There are a good few. In the playoffs, to be promoted into Premier League 2, we faced a team called Leyton in the final game. We had to win to gain promotion. The game was goal for goal but in the last 5 minutes the fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate the building for 10 minutes. We managed to keep our momentum going and our muscles warm before going back on court to win the game by one goal. The whole team showed the most amazing composure and grit that game. I could never forget the feeling of it paying off.
Who’s the queen of pranks?
Lynsey Pitman used to love a prank. Someone would get home to open their bag to a size 12 smelly old shoe that had been left at our venues. I once spent about 30 minutes washing shampoo into my hair only to realise Lynsey kept adding more to the top of my head (Brown said laughing). I’m definitely the butt of a lot of jokes.
The media coverage of netball over the last 5 years has improved. How’s that been for you?
Obviously it’s been amazing to get so much coverage for a female sport. It’s due to a lot of hard work behind the scenes to secure the appropriate sponsorships. We are grateful to all our sponsors, who I think were inspired by a group of local talented girls that have managed to play so well and climb the ranks all on their own merit. I’m proud to be part of Jets which is now a well established team on the island and hope to inspire a lot of young girls to play netball at a high level.
What’s it like when Serena Guthrie comes back? What’s her personality like?
In one sentence – the girl is nuts!
Serena is a good pal of mine and never changes, even though she has reached the status of one of the best players in the world. When she comes home she likes to be surrounded by her family and her friends, having a laugh a minute. She always puts aside time to help us with the netball too whether it’s taking a session, coaching the younger ones or even helping out on court (she played with the Jets for a couple of games a few seasons ago!). She’s an asset to her sport, and the girl has a wicked sense of humour. She is someone who has never forgotten her roots!
You were vice captain for a few years and now captain? How does that feel?
It has been an interesting journey into leadership, I’ve always been vice or captain when I’ve played for the island. I like to think that maybe it’s the way I play on court that has meant I’ve become a natural leader, always trying to create new game play etc. I was vice under Lauren Devine for a few years and we had a really good partnership and would delegate responsibility well between ourselves. Lauren obviously has so many inspiring qualities that make her a natural leader. I feel I have learnt so much from her and have brought this into my role as captain, but the support from the girls this season has really helped me ease into my captaincy. I’m not perfect and I’m still learning how to inspire the girls rather than just tell them what to do. It’s a difficult thing to get right sometimes! But they appreciate that it’s all one big learning experience. The fact that they’ve all been so good with me motivates me to become a better leader.
You also coach. Is that a difficult balance, coaching and playing?
Yes I find this the most difficult aspect of the job. Jimmy (our performance coach) always refers to me having the “player cap” and the “coach cap”. It’s hard to choose which one to wear sometimes. Obviously when playing on court you want the best result and the goals to be firing in. This is built into you as a player. When that’s not happening it’s hard not to lose your cool and put on your “coach cap” to try and analysis what’s happening from a coaching point of view. The coaching side came from some new ideas and drills I had on my return from Glasgow. I really enjoy taking the training, you have to know when to mix things up and keep things fresh but also need to know when something needs further drilling and attention.
Finally, what are your future goals?
I am really enjoying the Jets journey but it’s difficult to make long term goals in our situation. The nature of being on an isolated island, means we are constantly losing girls to university and other opportunities. That’s why we have to take it season by season, there can be so much change in the squad in one year. For now I think it’s important to try and remain in the National League and keep up our national status. We deserve to be playing in the Prem and it enables us to expose girls of 16 and 17 to playing at high level.
We aren’t a professional set up so therefore we understand the hard work that goes into having normal jobs, attending school as well as trying to keep fit and train and travel a lot of weekends. I respect anyone who is able to do that for the sport that we love.
Some really interesting points by Brown, with comments that illustrate why she is a true role model for young Jet’s and fellow players.
Jets are next at Fort Regent on the 4th November as Brown and the girls host Norfolk United at 12pm.