By Bridget Tunnicliffe

Radio New Zealand

3 May, 2024


The Mystics newest defender Catherine Hall says she’s in a good place to be learning on and off the court as she juggles a fledgling netball career with a degree in medicine.

The promising young defender received her first full contract with the ANZ Premiership defending champions this year after impressing as a training partner and member of the Northern Marvels last season.

Able to play both in-circle defensive positions, Hall’s tall 1.91m frame is an asset and her long reach stands out.

“I have had my arm span measured, I think it’s about the same as my height. I’ve always been told that my long arms are an asset of mine so I try to throw them around as much as possible and see what ball I can get,” Hall said.

Like many girls Hall was introduced to netball at primary school. Hall played a few other sports growing up, including touch when she was younger and volleyball in high school.

She gets her height from both parents.

“My dad is six foot five and my Mum she says she’s 5’11” and three quarters. My mum played representative level netball when she was growing up.”

The 20-year-old said getting her first full-time contract happened sooner than she thought it might.

“When I finished school, the NNL (National Netball League) coach asked me to trial for the Northern Marvels, so I was like ‘okay, I’ll give that a go’.

“And then I got a call up to be an apprentice training partner the following year. I guess I’ve always thought about potentially playing professionally but it probably is faster than I expected.”

An injury to captain Sulu Fitzpatrick last season opened the door for Hall to be included in several Mystics match-day squads, and she got a few minutes on court.

Hall has come into a well-established team and very strong defensive end, which includes Silver Ferns’ Michaela Sokolich-Beatson and Phoenix Karaka.

Carys Stythe, also 20, was another promising youngster, who got her first full-time contract last year. Hall and Stythe could potentially anchor the Mystics defensive circle for several years to come.

Hall has been able to learn from some of the best about the demands of elite level netball.

Last year she soaked up as much as she could from Fitzpatrick, before the former Silver Fern retired.

“It’s been so cool. Phoenix and Mickey [Sokolich-Beatson] and Sulu last year, and Carys have all got so much to offer, they’re amazing players so it’s really cool to play alongside them and I’m definitely learning a lot.

“There’s so much for me still to learn and I think I’m in a good place to be learning at the moment with the players around me. I think some of the tactical stuff, seeing opportunity to hunt for ball and getting my angles and positioning right, it’s something I want to develop.”

Mystics assistant coach Rob Wright focusses on the defensive end and brings a point of difference as an Australian.

“He’s really good, he’s got a unique coaching style. He can be very direct and to the point, but also he’s got a fun personality so it’s a really nice balance. And he looks at the game quite differently than any other coaches that I’ve had before. I feel like I’m learning a lot from him.”

Hall has started in two out of three games so far this season and has already played 101 minutes.

Remarkably, she was also studying for a degree in medicine.

In 2021, her final year at Auckland’s Baradene College, Hall was named Dux – the school’s top academic student. She was first in biology, chemistry, physics, and statistics. She also earned Academic Achievement in English, as well as the Senior Literary Cup.

She was in her third year at the University of Auckland, studying medicine, which was normally a six year degree.

“I’ve started to think about specialising in sports medicine, maybe mixing the two interests. Otherwise general practice, but I’m not sure, I’ve got a bit of time to think about it.”

How was she managing to hold down full-time study with a netball career?

“I am busy but I’ve actually found it a lot better than I expected and I’ve got really great support from both ends, so it’s actually going really well.”

Hall was offered a scholarship for Otago University in her final year at high school but decided to stay in Auckland.

“I figured staying at home was the best option because I’ve got lots more support around me and I guess I already had netball set up here as well so I decided to try for Auckland University.”

On Sunday the Mystics host the unbeaten Pulse in Auckland, looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season against the Tactix earlier this week.