Gabi hoping passion runs deep at Firebirds
THE power of love.
That will be the driving force behind the captaincy of Gabi Simpson at the Queensland Firebirds in 2019.
The Australian Diamonds vice-captain will lead her beloved Firebirds for a third-straight Suncorp Super Netball campaign with the trio of Romelda Aiken, Caitlyn Nevins and Mahalia Cassidy supporting her as part of the team's leadership group.
The Firebirds leaders were unveiled at the new Queensland State Netball Centre on Wednesday with the $44 million venue to host all eight Suncorp Super Netball teams for the three-day #TeamGirls Cup pre-season tournament that gets underway on Friday.
Simpson said she was ready to take her leadership to another level.
"Each year I've learned something new about myself but probably more importantly about the team. The biggest thing for me is that I've learned my core values are about care and about love,'' she said.
"I've been able to really adopt it into the way that I lead.
"It feels a lot more natural than it ever has … the real care that I have for my teammates and the Firebirds in general.''
Simpson said the four games during pre-season tournament was the ideal time to test how the Firebirds handle the pressure moments as they seek to improve on their early exit from the finals last year.
Firebirds players voted on their leadership group late last year and were asked to give reasons for their votes with athletic wing attack Simpson receiving overwhelming support from her peers to continue as captain.
Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke said Simpson had been a keen student of her predecessor Laura Geitz and had added her own personal touch to the captaincy role.
"Gabi was the standout leader and all the feedback was really positive which you would expect,'' Jencke said.
"Gabi has grown immensely. She had the opportunity to be able to learn from one of the great leaders in our sport (Geitz) but she has also got her own unique leadership style which is great.
"She is very warm but she is also very passionate with that real unique enthusiasm. She is just so giving and Gabs wants to make sure that everybody is better around her.''
About to embark on her 12th season with the Firebirds, goalshooter Aiken said the process of turning the State Netball Centre into a purple fortress starts this weekend.
"One thing we've learned from the opening ceremony the other day is that we've worked so hard to get this building and we stand on thousands of shoulders here,'' Aiken said.
"Now that it's here … when we step out there on court we are a force to be reckoned with and we won't shy down from anything.
"We'll go hard and even when we get knocked down, we'll get back up and go harder again.''