On game day this weekend, Julie Fitzgerald will try and sit down for breakfast with her family. Notably close with her family, Fitzgerald's grandchildren are often present at games, and will often be seen playing with the Giants' netball players and staff after games.
That ritual has been part of game day for years, and Fitzgerald explained that it helps keep her calm on game day.
"I always like to try and have breakfast with the family somewhere because that fills a couple of hours and it gives me other things to think about," Fitzgerald told Edge of the Crowd.
"I get dreadfully nervous on game day which is pathetic, given how long I've been doing what I do.
"Then I just like to get to the courts a bit early touch base with everyone. Go through the normal routine we do before the game but I do like to have breakfast with family first to take your mind off it for a while."
Fitzgerald has more than 25 years of coaching at the elite level of netball under her belt, starting in 1994 in charge of the Sydney / Ku-Ring-Gai team in the then Superleague.
She's been a foundational coach repeatedly, something that has changed how she coaches along the way, as the environment around elite netball has changed.
Just two weeks ago, the Giants were celebrating 100 games for their club, and Fitzgerald has been at the helm for all 101.
"Giants is obviously the most recent but we started off with Sydney Cenovis they were Ku-Ring-Gai, and we hadn't experienced anything like a national league. So we certainly started that from scratch.
"And then the Swifts, we virtually started from scratch when this we started playing as the Sydney Swifts. We didn't have anywhere near the backing that the teams have now. So kind of started that from scratch as well.
"So the Giants was unique because we had such a short period of time to bring something together and make it successful."
When asked what keeps the fire going, Fitzgerald was quick to take it back to the simple tenents of coaching, and keeping it fresh.
"I just love it and I think every year presents different challenges. And so, you'd never be able to say that now was the same as when I started or even halfway through or even last year, every year.
"There's different challenges. There's different things you want to achieve. There's different players who can be to group every year it's different.
"I just go with the flow I think, I've always wanted to learn and then learn from other sports and learn within myself and that sort of thing.
"I've got great staff at the moment. I'm really enjoying playing ideas, throwing around ideas around with them. So everything changes every year."
Fitzgerald's wealth of experience has given her perspective and practice when it comes to coaching. When asked about what underpinned her coaching philosophy, Fitzgerald went straight back to her players - something that has stood her in good stead over the whole course of her career.
"I have a responsibility to make the environment the best that I can, so that everybody wants to be a Giant and everybody wants to play for our club.
"But I also think I have to provide the high performance environment where every player can be the best that they can be.
"Above all else, I want them to enjoy it. I want them to always want to come back I want them always to be a part of our team."
It's a simple enough equation for the veteran coach, who has experience across netball and basketball, from district level to the Australian Institute of Sport, and everywhere in between.
"I think philosophically the higher the level the more it becomes people management.
"You tend to get players now who've got pretty good basic skills and those things that you're teaching a player and it becomes much more strategic and definitely a lot more of people management."
Fitzgerald's focus on her players and the environment has been reflected in her time at the Giants. Just four players have left the Giants and continued their careers elsewhere as professional netballers, including two who went overseas (Kristiana Manu'a and Serena Guthrie).
The turnover in the Giants' team has been stark, compared to the player movement at some other clubs. It's a point of pride for Fitzgerald.
"Particularly this year when we signed exactly the same list, I was happy that they wanted to stay and there was no debate about 'I might try this or I might try that'.
"It was more a matter of you know, can we make it satisfactory for you to stay with us they had no desire to go anywhere else."
The playing group is obviously one of the most important parts of a netball team, or any sporting team for that matter. For the Giants' leader, it's a relationship that she has learned to build over time, and that changes from year to year.
"I think it's something that you do learn over time. I would say that I'm very close to players and particularly players that I've coached for a very long time and I've seen grow up in some ways.
But I also think it's important that you maintain that level of respect, because no matter no matter what what you're in charge and you have to care decisions and have hard conversations and you want to know that they respect you enough that you can have that do that."
That playing group, at the moment, is led by Jo Harten, who has had a long partnership with Fitzgerald. Over that time, the player has been mentored by the coach, and it is a relationship that Fitzgerald treasures.
"If you've got a captain who is not on the same wavelength as you or doesn't want to follow the same principles as you do, then you're in trouble.
"It's very, very important that I think that you're both on the same wavelength in terms of not only the tactics on the court, but particularly what's happening off the court and what sort of culture and reputation you want to build for your team.
"[Jo] is a great scholar of the game and she's a very good reader of the game that I think even when she was playing World Youth Cup when I first saw her she was still being a leader and a bit of a coach on the court.
"She has great instincts into the game and has always been happy to share them."
And Harten has been a leader personified on the netball court, looking back to the losing 2021 Grand Final, and she was recently recognised for her 100th club game for the Giants. She has been part of the foundation of the club, and Fitzgerald links one of the key principles of her coaching ideals to character, exemplified by Harten.
"I think the thing that I really have come to terms with that I won't budge on now is you have to have the team with good character.
"It doesn't matter how good a player is if you're going to bring them into your group and they don't share the same aims and I'm trying to think of the word 'culture' that you want to build, then you're not going to be successful.
"So I think you you have to take how they will fit into your team's environment you do count every bit as much as how good a netballer they are."
And so, Fitzgerald, who has more than 25 years and untold number of games under her belt, continues to find the passion and fire for coaching. Invigorated by the youth in the side she manages on a day to day basis, and the people she works with, there's no telling how long the master coach will stay on.
It's clear she loves the people, the environment and the work about her job. And her influence and legacy is already clear and unmatched, with coaching disciples filling the ranks of Super Netball and other competitions.
When all is said and done, will Fitzgerald have anything left to achieve? But for now, she is focussed on the now.
"I'm really enjoying playing ideas, throwing around ideas around with them. So everything changes every year."
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