STIRLING graduate Lauren Tait has finished her university run in style after representing Scotland at the Netball World Cup.
Lauren, 23, formed part of the twelve-strong squad that travelled to Liverpool in July to face off against the world’s best.
Scotland finished just outside the top ten in 11th place: an impressive result considering the average age of the team was around 23, and only a handful of players had World Cup experience.
It’s not all been smooth sailing for Lauren, though.
Playing in the defensive positions of either goalkeeper or wing defence, she is much more likely to face physical contact than some of her attacking team mates.
Following two ACL ruptures, she only returned to the sport around five months ago after a tough two years out of play.
After undergoing surgery in July 2017, she had a full season off the court, and only came back to training in November 2018.
Lauren told Brig: “I was out of netball for two years trying to get back. It was a really long time.”
And although she was still involved in netball at the university, it was difficult to stand on the side-lines.
She said: “I found it hard watching others play because it reminded me of what I couldn’t do.
“I couldn’t watch the Sirens playing for the first year, but I took up coaching at Stirling.
“It definitely made me mentally stronger fighting through it all.
“I was worried that I wouldn’t get back to the same level. I spent three months just trying to learn how to run and change position.
“When I eventually came back to training, it went from zero to a hundred.”
Lauren was selected for the Scottish national team in June, by which point she had only been back training for a few months.
In a fortnight of intense netball at the tournament, the team played eight games, as well as two practice matches against the eventual tournament winners, New Zealand.
Lauren got to play in four of the matches, a significant achievement given that she only made her grand return to netball a few months earlier.
“It was a great experience, and to be part of the twelve-strong team that were selected was such an honour.”
Her two favourite highlights of the tournament were playing in the matches against England and Samoa.
Although she only made it on for the last five minutes of the group match against Samoa, she was thrilled to be a part of it.
Playing in the same group as England, she came up against some big netball names, including attacker Jo Harten and Geva Mentor, one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
Lauren added: “I was injured during the Commonwealth Games and had never been to an event of that calibre before.
“I definitely did think about who I was up against, but at the end of the day, it’s just like another netball match.
Lauren was lucky enough to have a network of family and friends supporting her in Liverpool, which made all the difference.
“My parents came to every match, and some of the girls from netball and touch rugby also came down to support me – it was so lovely to have the support and make them proud.”
In her next step, she is moving to the University of Glasgow to study a masters in sports medicine.
She will re-trial for the Scottish Sirens in September and is currently discussing future plans with her coaches.
Featured Image Credit: Netball Scotland