In light of the new National Netball League teams that were announced last week, along with the 2016 AFL Grand Final this weekend… We caught up with Geelong local, Australian Diamond and newly announced Collingwood Magpies Netballer Madi Robinson for this week’s Ladies We Love series.
Thanks so much for featuring Madi! Firstly, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a Netballer, teacher, health aficionado, beauty enthusiast and mindfulness explorer! I’m addicted to health and wellbeing. Whether it’s in the kitchen, experimenting with wacky and wonderful health alternatives, creating simple, nourishing, real wholesome food, trying natural beauty products or exploring ways to be mindful and balanced in my lifestyle – I love it all and can’t get enough.
I’ve always had a passion for education, that’s why I studied teaching. Being the best authentic version of myself, inspiring and empowering other drives me everyday. I’m extremely lucky in my job as a netballer that I get to meet some amazing people who challenge me to constantly be better.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey? When did you start netball and what was your pathway that led you to being an Australian Diamond?
Born and bred in Geelong, I was brought up in a very sporty family. Dad played football for Geelong and Mum was very active and competitive in a variety of sports, so I guess staying fit and healthy and having an extremely competitive nature and passion for sport was always part of my destiny.
Although, my parents laugh that when I first started playing Netball, I was more worried about running away from the ball, practicing my dance routines while the ball was down the other end and chatting to my opponents making new friends.
Eventually the light bulb flicked on in my head with what it was all about and from then you couldn’t get a ball out of my hands, practicing before, during and after school – I loved everything about playing!
After trying a range of different sports, I settled with Basketball and Netball and slowly rose through the player pathways, representing Victoria and being identified to attend a few talent camps at the AIS. I wasn’t sure how I was ever going to choose between the two, and it wasn’t until I was 18, that Netball eventually chose me.
From starting my elite netball journey at the Melbourne Kestrels, I made my first Australian Squad in 2006, before the new ANZ Champs competition came into play in 2008 which saw me go from a starter to a bench warmer when the two existing Melbourne clubs forged together to become the Melbourne Vixens. It was hard sitting there, and only hide sight and maturity has taught me a lot of valuable lessons from those early days.
My biggest decision was heading over to the west to play for the West Coast Fever in 2009 & 2010. A massive career and life decision to leave everything I knew, family and friends all in Geelong to pursue making the Aussie Diamonds. But what an incredible experiences it was, especially when I debuted for the Diamonds in Scotland at the start of 2010!
I’ve been back home in Melbourne now for 6 years, back wearing the Big V for the Mighty Melbourne Vixens, won a premiership, Commonwealth Games medal, 44 test matches under my belt for the Diamonds, had the privilege of being captain this year at the Vixens and now I’m about to embark on another amazing opportunity playing for the new franchise the Collingwood Magpies Netball Team in the inaugural year of the new National Netball League.
Coming from a small(er) town, you would have looked up to the best netballers in the nation. Who is/was your role model that inspired you to push yourself to play at an elite level?
Shelley O’Donnell was my Netball idol growing up. I watched heaps of her games and tried to emulate my style of play and game to be just like her. She was an incredibly creative, dynamic and dominant C/WA player of her time. She finished her playing career at the Melbourne Kestrels (wear I began my journey) and when I first started, people commented how similar we were in our movements and smarts on court. The most humbling comments I could have received!
Being an Australian Diamond, you would be a role model to just about every aspiring netballer in Australia. How does it feel to be an influential role model? Does it drive you to be the best version of yourself not only in netball, but all aspects of your life?
Absolutely it does!
I used to get so annoyed when I was younger that my sister wanted everything I had, but I guess its only when you get older that you realize that is the greatest form of flattery you could receive as an older sibling.
I still pinch myself that people idolize and look up to me in that way, as to me its just me being me and that’s the important thing – to be true to myself whilst continually growing and learning as a person. Putting a smile on a little girls face or bringing some joy to someone is priceless!
What should someone look for in their role model?
Someone who shares the same values, beliefs and is genuine!
You play alongside and against some of the best athletes in Australia and around the world, who would you say is your biggest competition? Who have you enjoyed playing with or against?
My biggest competitor used to be Renae Hallinan. She is one of my closest friends (she was one of my bridesmaids and I was one of hers). It wasn’t just the physical challenge, as we knew each others game better then anyone else, it was also a mental one. We would never speak during the week we were to play each other, just shake hands on court and put friendship aside for 6o minutes. We are both so competitive and would do anything for our teams, so it was a silent mutual agreement that would just happen each time.
After the game, it was like nothing had happened. We would stay at each others house, whether you won or lost, business was just business and friendship was never compromised.
You created history in 2014 when you won the Liz Ellis Diamond for the SECOND time! What an achievement! Were you surprised they called your name? What were your initial thoughts at that moment?
2014 was an incredible year on and off court.
I got married in February, won the premiership with the Vixens in July, went to my first Commonwealth Games and won gold in August and then created history with a second Liz Ellis Diamond. I was shocked when my name was announced, I just didn’t think that year could get any better than it already had been.
What was your preparation like for the Commonwealth Games in 2014? How do you deal with nerves when playing on the big stage?
Failure to prepare is preparing to fail! I believe a lot of my success has come down to my attention to detail and high level of self-motivation to make sure I have no regrets in every opportunity I have been given.
Preparation is where it all starts, and what helps me curve any nerves. If I have done the hard work, I don’t have any doubt and know that I just have to get out there, do my job for the team and play with instinct.
I was so nervous on the bus to the arena for the gold medal match, but the second we arrived at the courts and I got changed into my dress; I felt this sense relief and calmness – like I was home. I knew what I had to do; now I just had to go out there and ENJOY doing it!
In big games its easy to get caught up in all the hype of being a big stage moment, never lose sight of why you started doing something in the being – its because you LOVE IT!
Representing your country at the highest level surely would have been your biggest goal; can you talk us through the emotions from the moment you were selected?
When I got selected in the Commonwealth Games team for Glasgow there was a big sigh of relief.
I had missed out on Delhi 4 year’s prior so it felt like I had been trying for 8 years to get there.
They read it out in alphabetical order, and because I had just gone from a B to R surname from getting married earlier in the year, when they got to C surnames, I was shattered I thought I had missed out again.
It wasn’t until they finished reading the team out and Renae Hallinan came over to me and said “I’m so proud of you” I was like “What? Wait? That was me at the end – phew!” Hahaha!
After a stellar year in 2014, you then ruptured your ACL in Round 6 of the ANZ Championship in 2015 against West Coast Fever, what was your immediate reaction or thought?
I first thought it was my kneecap slipping out, but when I looked down and saw it in place I knew straight away what had happened. Instantly I thought there goes my Netball World Cup hopes and a chance of a back to back premiership with the Vixens. It’s such a common injury in netball and even more common for my position. You hear people describe what it feels like so I was more than aware of what had occurred and what that meant for my next 12months.
Your aim was to get back on court in Round 1 of 2016, which you achieved! What did you do to reach that goal?
A lot of hard work, hours, sacrifice, tears, swearing, smiles, relief, high times, low times, small milestones to slowly build and build on not only my physical prep but mental prep as well.
Your sister Kelsey stepped out on court in the Vixens uniform in your position, what was it like seeing your little sister out there?
It was a bittersweet moment for the family. One daughters world had come crashing down whilst the other had been given an incredible opportunity. The first game Kelsey got on, she looked at me in the change rooms, and she looked petrified. I remember telling her to take a few deep breaths, soak it all up, enjoy it and to go out there and be herself. Don’t try and be me, be YOU and everything will be fine!
I sat in the crowd and watched her out on court and was so proud to see her finally have the opportunity to live her dream!
Not only did you step back on court in round 1 of 2016 after your knee reconstruction, you stepped out as Captain. Can you describe that feeling? How did you find your first season back?
It was a huge round 1. So much hype and pressure (mostly from my own expectations). I was too worried about everything that I played an absolute shocker. I was so disappointed because I knew I could have done so much better.
After the game I spoke with my dad and I said “Well I hope that isn’t an indication of what this year coming back is going to be like”. He reminded me to stop worrying about trying to be a particular leader and that I lead best with my actions. If I cant do my job first on court, and be ME, how do I expect to motivate, empower and bring others along with me.
From there it has been about building on each week, learning from the experience and not expecting it all to happen at once.
You’ve have so many accolades to your name and you’ve reached goal after goal. What continues to drive you to achieving these goals, and secondly, what’s the next goal?
There is a lot that motivates me. My family, teammates, fans, strong and confident people who love what they do. I think it’s all about embracing the uncomfortable to constantly pushing the boundaries to see how far you can go.
Long term Netball goals are to win another Premiership with the Mighty Magpies, go to another Commonwealth Games and hopefully get to one World Cup!
How many times a week do you train?
At the moment with Diamonds we have 10-12 sessions a week. Court work, strength, running, off-legs condition (cycling or swimming), mobility and stretching.
Pilates, circuit work and yoga are other things I do as well more because I want to and I enjoy it and I love having balance and variety in my training.
What do you eat to ensure you’re putting the best fuel in your body?
To me being healthy shouldn’t feel like a diet, it’s a lifestyle and mindset change. I don’t believe you have to eat right all the time; life is about enjoying and living and not about feeling guilty about what you do or don’t eat.
I’ve played the guilt game many times, but what I’ve learnt is you can enjoy all life has to offer in a balanced and healthy way.
I know what my body thrives on and its taken time to learn what works best for me, both physically and mentally.
I eat a lot of organic wholefoods and macrobiotics.
You’re a proud Geelong girl, what’s your favourite thing to do in Geelong or on the Surf Coast?
Family, beach and food! All in that order, actually food probably before beach now that I think about it. FAMILY – it’s about spending quality time with loved ones. FOOD – King of the Castle (Pakington St) & Natural Harry (Barwon Heads) are my favs. The beach is my happy place, where I can switch off and relax regardless of what is happening in life and weather it’s torrential rain or sunshine, I find it so relaxing.
Can you tell us a bit about what you do outside of netball?
I have a primary school teaching degree, as I have a passion for education, but I rarely find myself in a classroom these days. It’s more about making the most of the other wonderful opportunities I am being able to do through being a netballer. I do a lot of public speaking, run my own netball clinics, media, have an online health blog (its being revamped at the moment – www.madirobinson.com.au) where I can inspire, educate and empower women to be happy, energized and radiant in their own bodies and self, through my own learning and experiences, as well as selling a few of my own drink bottles and netball products. I’m a mum to my dog Ruby…haha (got you all there!) as well as training and trying all things healthy, I love just living in the moment and making the most of every opportunity
What do you love about netball?
The long lasting friendships I have made throughout my journey. I have friends not only in Australia, but all over the world from being fortunate to play this wonderful sport at the level I have. I never take it for granted!
Lastly, describe yourself in three words?
Organized, authentic, passionate.
A big thank you to you for sharing your journey with us Madi. The Circus Media team wish you all the best for the future, which we will certainly following closely!