The sound of cow bells will be music to Jo Harten’s ears when Kia Magic meet Southern Steel in third round ANZ Championship netball action in Hamilton on Monday.
After transferring from Tactix in the off-season, the willowy England shooter has made an impressive start to the season in helping her new Waikato/Bay of Plenty team secure a perfect start to their campaign.
With two wins on the road Magic, who have the most successful home record of any team, are now looking forward to playing in front of their own supporters for the first time, cow bells being key apparel at sporting events in the area.
``I can’t wait to experience the Magic home crowd,’’ Harten said. ``I’ve been told it’s something different with the cow bells…..I’m looking forward to hearing that kind of thing and my parents are flying over from England, so they’ll be at that home game as well.’’
Harten, 24, is thriving in her new environment, making the best possible start with her general play and just the two misses at goal from 73 attempts after two full games.
``It’s a really fresh environment here, probably a change in what the Magic has had over the last few years and a change from what I’ve experienced at the Tactix as well,’’ she said.
``There’s a lot of self-responsibility but it’s also a pressured responsibility so if you do the work then you’ll be able to achieve on court and you’re contributing to the team performance.
``Julie (Fitzgerald, coach) doesn’t put heaps of pressure on us, she wants us to be confident in our game so trains us in a way that we work hard against each other, for each other.’’
Change, a growing maturity and the will to push on has Harten poised for a real momentum shift in her career.
``Even if we had lost the first two games, I feel it’s still been the best decision for my netball career to move here,’’ she said.
``A change in environment can really bring out a different side to you. I also feel like I’m gaining in confidence and maturity.
``I’ve been a young player in most of the teams I’ve been in but now it’s like trying to be a leader in the attack end in this team and I’m really striving to be that person and hoping to improve my game week-in week-out.’’
Magic’s winning start to the season handed the affable shooter consecutive wins for the first time in her 28-game career.
``You play netball for a whole heap of reasons but one of them surely is to win,’’ she said.
``To win two games on the trot and then go into the training week knowing you’ve done that and contributed to the team performance makes you want to train harder because you want to win again the next week.
``That’s what I’m feeling at the moment and I don’t want to lose this feeling, so I know it’s about working hard, keeping the pressure on myself and the team and hopefully we’ll come out with a few more wins.’’
Harten had a limited pre-season following ankle reconstruction surgery in October and has slowly rebuilt her confidence but is far from getting ahead of herself.
``I think the Steel will come out fighting next week,’’ she said. ``From their standards, they’ve had two shaky first games and obviously they’ve got a real weapon in attack with Jhanielle Fowler-Reid who has the ability to score quick goals.
``It’s about punishing their errors and when we get the ball we really do need to finish off and help with the through court defence as much as possible. Being the third week in, they will be a lot more settled and with Jhanielle’s presence, it’s going to take a massive team effort from us again.’’