“I knew I was good right from when I first started playing in primary school,” says the Manchester Thunder goal attack, without apology. And she’s dead right to be as it certainly hasn’t done her any harm. In fact, the Rainhill native credits netball for bringing her out of herself. She explains: “Netball makes me feel confident and good about myself, as I used to be really quiet and shy.”
There’s a different swagger to the 24-year-old this season. Often looked upon as one of the most consistent and reliable players in the Thunder squad, it’s Turner’s fearlessness and composure that has been especially noticeable this season. Having a shooting partner that you click with is an asset, too, and Turner is lucky she has that with both Joyce Mvula and Amy Clinton. Turner, who also plays for Oldham, said: “I’m happy with my form and I’m having a good season with Oldham so that’s carried over. Joyce coming in has been really easy to play with so it’s allowed me to be more free. It makes a big difference – her and Amy are a similar style and that really suits me and the way I like to play.”
And while shooting stats and percentages are big part of the game, and even more so with her position, Turner is always keen to look at her overall performance too. She added: “I try not to dwell on getting obsessed with stats. You can still play well without coming out with good ones. Overall performance is important to me.”
And balanced and happy life outside of netball and looking to the future is equally as important to Turner, who married her beau of 10 years, Tom McNamara, in February. But of course, netball still had a say in her plans. She explained: “We’d booked a mini-moon after the wedding and then a Thunder fixture changed from a Monday to Saturday and messed it up, so I had to come away from it halfway through and then go back. Tom wasn’t impressed at first but he is very supportive of my netball career, bless him. We’re going to Cuba after the season finishes in June, which is something to look forward to as we’ve been on a bit of a downer after the wedding.”
Turner is also building another career she plans to pursue once she hangs up her Black and Yellow netball dress for the last time. Currently taking part in a graduate scheme with food and drink group Princes, Turner has already worked in marketing and sales and is currently based with the commercial buying team. It’s a different, corporate world and Turner has to take holidays to fulfil her netball commitments, but she’s hoping it is all worth it if she manages to secure a permanent position at the end of the scheme. She said: “Marketing has been my favourite so far. I was involved in a new website launch, digital campaign and Youtube channel so it brought out my creative side. At my work, it’s not a young culture and there’s not people playing sport. I just get on with it and take holidays when I need to. I want something after netball so I’m working hard at my job.”
Being in the team ‘forever’ means Turner is well versed at dealing with ‘so many’ fans and playing in big-capacity venues such as the Copperbox and Manchester Arena. But she still wants more. “I want netball to get bigger and it is going in the right direction and it’s great the stadiums we are getting to play in. There’s still that perception of high school netball and I think we have a responsibility to change that, and drive it forward.”
Turner then joked she wished she’d taken up tennis as there is more money in it. Thank the sporting Gods she didn’t.
Feature by Denise Evans