FORMER Australian netball captain Liz Ellis used failure as a form of motivation.
“After missing selection in the U12 Hawkesbury netball team, I set my goal to never experience that dreadful feeling of failure again,” she told more than 300 women, men and PLC Armidale students at the Armidale Bowling Club earlier this week.
It was part of an inspiring address called “Balancing ambition in all courts”.
In her 45-minute, spontaneous and entertaining presentation, Liz described how she used that failure as a form of motivation. Often described as tenacious and determined, Liz has been focused on achieving from an early age.
After not being really interested in netball at the age of nine, she was encouraged to play by a family friend. As she grew into her height, arms and legs, she discovered a passion for the position of goal keeper and for the game, which has taken her all over the world. She spoke about the wonderful support she received from her parents, who were far from pushy but were always encouraging.
“They always emphasised having fun, being self-motivated and the importance of getting a good education – because, as everyone knows, a career in sport itself can be very short-lived, particularly if you receive a debilitating injury,” she said.
Liz was offered a scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport’s netball program while still in Year 11, but chose not to accept it until after finishing her HSC in her high school in western Sydney.
And she hasn’t looked back.
“Having that experience was so invaluable. I learnt so much from other athletes and the way they trained. I picked up one very important skill from celebrated heptathlete Jane Fleming, who trained at the most amazing intensity. Basically, how you train is how you play – a tip I have since always lived by and tried to impart to others.” Liz continued that same work ethic as she applied herself to combining training with her legal studies at Macquarie University, and then in her working life as a solicitor with Sydney firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth.
“But I wasn’t a very good solicitor,” she laughed.
She described the challenges she faced in trying to balance a demanding work life with a rigorous training schedule until at one point she called the “comma moment”.
When a fellow solicitor she was working with pointed out that the positioning of a comma in a document could help their case, she replied, “What comma? I didn’t even see it.” It was then she realised she “wasn’t passionate about law, but I was passionate about netball”.
But she admitted having that legal background had assisted her in other ways since.
Another inspiring aspect of her humorous address was her dynamic and easygoing communication skills, which so impressed everyone, particularly PLC Armidale head of school Debra Kelliher.
“Her leadership qualities were so evident in the way she entertained her audience, whether at the luncheon or coaching the PLC netballers in the morning,” Ms Kelliher said.
“She has a lovely, relaxed manner with people and was able to deliver a very inspirational message. She was an exceptional role model for our girls, particularly her obvious core values, which are very much aligned to those of PLC Armidale.”
“Strong”, “united” and “passionate” were the three key words and actions Liz used as captain of the Australian Diamonds to motivate her team to defeat the Silver Ferns in 2007, after some losses the previous year. Following her public address, Liz conducted an intimate Q&A with PLC Armidale students from Years 10-12, as well as some girls from Glen Innes High School.