Culture and sport are blending perfectly for Selby-Rickit

Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit is now the assistant coach of the Mainland Tactix. Photo: Linda Robertson
Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit is now the assistant coach of the Mainland Tactix. Photo: Linda Robertson
Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit thought she would miss playing, but it turns out coaching fills that void. The former Southern Steel defender tells netball writer Kayla Hodge how her culture and sport have finally blended together and the Southland link she has found at the Mainland Tactix.

Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit stands on the sideline as she watches one of her players drop the ball.

The Mainland Tactix assistant coach glances at head coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek and specialist Donna Wilkins and knows they all have the same thought.


It is one of the many tricks ingrained in the coaching group from a Southland netball great, the late Robyn Broughton, with whom they shared a special connection.

Broughton coached Selby-Rickit and Wilkins for years, and when she moved to the Central Pulse, she had Delaney-Hoshek as her assistant, and coached Selby-Rickit and Wilkins there, too.

The woman responsible for a southern netball dynasty had many quirks when it came to her coaching style — she believed people would be called for stepping if they wore coloured shoes — and those little things have stayed with Selby-Rickit as she transitions into the next phase of her career.

"When players dropped balls, or missed things, Robbie used to think they needed to check their eyesight because she was proven right a couple of times," Selby-Rickit said.

"It’s just little things like that . . . and drills, which is really nice, because I don’t know if it’s my ideas or Robbie’s ideas half the time, because we were so immersed.

"Marianne and Donna almost have the same — it’s almost like a Robbie thing."

It has been a special bond for Selby-Rickit as she embarks on her first coaching gig after calling time on her playing career with the Southern Steel last year.

After more than 200 elite games, Selby-Rickit thought she would miss playing, but coaching gave her the same buzz.

"I get really excited by the actual netball games.

"I thought ‘oh, I’m going to miss that’, but you actually get really excited coaching. Even more so because you work on these things and then seeing them do it . . . is actually really fun."

It gave her a refreshed energy for the game — she used to treat days off like Christmas — and she loved running the Tactix defence end.

"I was very nervous at the beginning and it’s still really tough.

"But it’s quite interesting how it does kind of transfer quite nicely and because I’ve recently stopped playing, you still understand what the game is like."

Coaching at the Tactix almost fell into Selby-Rickit’s lap.

Knowing she needed to become a registered teacher, Selby-Rickit moved to Christchurch last July to work at Te Kura Whakapūmau i te Reo Tūturu ki Waitaha.

It is a kaupapa Māori school, similar to what Selby-Rickit attended in Otaki growing up, and it was an area in which she always wanted to be involved.

"It was just a situation that almost aligned perfectly for me."

Growing up speaking predominantly te reo, Selby-Rickit struggled to speak the language in netball circles and felt fortunate her two passions were blending almost seamlessly.

"It’s been really tough in netball [with] the Māori part, speaking Māori consistently and being around it.

Selby-Rickit retired last year after playing more than 200 domestic games. Photo: Getty Images
Selby-Rickit retired last year after playing more than 200 domestic games. Photo: Getty Images
"[Netball] does try their best, but it’s not what I was used to growing up and I did find that I did struggle a bit with my reo.

"Being immersed in that every day, and then also being able to go to netball . . . I never thought they could mix like this, so I’m very lucky."

Her sister, Te Paea, who plays for the Tactix — "we’re here for business, she doesn’t give me the sideye," Selby-Rickit said laughing — and fellow Tactix shooter Aliyah Dunn also speak te reo, and defender Jane Watson has moved to Otaki to study the language.

Selby-Rickit was "super proud" of Watson’s journey and felt fortunate her culture could connect with others.

They played together at the Steel and that familiarity helped Selby-Rickit in directing the Tactix defence line of Watson, Karin Burger, Kate Lloyd and Paris Lokotui.

"The people I have, honestly are unreal," Selby-Rickit said.

"When you come in with the calibre of athletes the Tactix have, you’re almost like, ‘oh jeez, how am I even going to help? They could coach themselves’.

"It’s been really fun trying to think up things . . . and they do it almost immediately."

Moving from the Steel to teaching to the Tactix had been a whirlwind, but Selby-Rickit felt that pathway was right.

"You almost play so long it just becomes like . . . another year rolling around.

"Obviously, I didn’t enjoy losing, but I still enjoyed the environment, but I [knew] I had to get teaching.

"I didn’t even have time to think about it, which was probably best, because I’m not great at sitting down [and] thinking about things."

After playing for the Steel in two stints across 11 years, it was always going to be tough to walk away.

But she knew the community would still welcome her when she returned with the Tactix — even if was on the other bench.

Always honest, Selby-Rickit admits her last year with the winless Steel was tough and felt they suffered from a losing mentality at times.

"Winning, and consistently winning, is a mentality. You learn how to win.

"You don’t want to learn the losing way. . . that mentality a wee bit crept in sometimes."

She was excited to see what the Steel’s familiar defence circle could do with the return of Taneisha Fifita and Abby Lawson.

"You need those Southlanders in the team.

"It’s so important to keep growing your own talent and they’ve definitely done that this year."

What does she hope for the Steel’s season this year?

"They win a game. They definitely will, I know that for sure."

She just hopes it will not be against the Tactix when they meet again in round six.