The netballer, Jess Monthe, has her eye on an England Roses spot and no amount of juggling training, matches and GCSEs will deter the steely teen
It’s a bit of an understatement to say that Jess Monthe has a lot going on. England U17, Loughborough Lightning Academy, Stratford Thunderbirds, Bromsgrove School team as well as the usual Year 10 GCSE commitment all feature in Jess’s heady schedule.
Training is intense and matches frequent, but Jess is determined and supported by both school staff as well as her England, Loughborough and Thunderbirds coaches, so she’s able to thrive in the classroom as well as on the netball court.
Jess quotes Muhammed Ali, ‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough’ and says that ‘failure is part of the path to success’ allowing a person to become ‘resilient and persevere when things get tough’. She lives by this. For instance, when Jess was unsuccessful in her first attempt to make the England squad she took it in her stride and carried on training hard. She was then invited back after being spotted in a School Games match with Loughborough and this time she was successful.
Selected initially in the goal-keeper spot, Jess has moved to goal defence which requires different skills such as increased speed, but she’s up for the challenge. Chatting to her, it’s hard to believe she’s still a schoolgirl as she’s so driven and yet mature enough to understand the need for balance too. Goals like making it to the England Roses squad sound completely realistic because she’s so measured. By all accounts, Jess’s work ethic is phenomenal believing ‘things are earned not given’ – she also just loves the game which helps. She says: “I love the bond between athletes and playing as a team.”
Remarkably, Jess thought she was awful at netball in primary school. It was only when she was scouted by Stratford Thunderbirds head coach Kelly McCormack and attended a summer camp that she began to see she might have potential. Jess credits playing with older more experienced girls for her rapid improvement.
Jess has been on a high-level netball pathway since she was a 12-year-old when she was first selected for the U15 Loughborough Lightning Academy. She’s now with the U17 Academy and cites head coach, Molly Salmons along with Thunderbirds head performance coach as playing a huge part in developing her ability and nurturing her talent. Covid restrictions meant no face-to-face training or matches in favour of online sessions during lockdown. Happily competing and training is back to normal and Jess has a packed regime again.
MAKING THE GRADES
A combination of regular strength and conditioning taking advantage of the facilities at Bromsgrove as well as multiple club and school sessions and matches generally on a Saturday with Loughborough, mean the week is netball heavy with a rest day on a Monday. While Jess is focused on the sport, she says: “My education and getting good grades for university are also important. You cannot control the future, so it is essential to get a good education, alongside taking part in what you love.”
Jess’s advice to budding netballers is simple: “Love what you are doing. If you don’t enjoy the game, you cannot play your best, and if you cannot play your best, you can’t be there for your team. At the end of the day, netball is a team sport and everything combined is left on the court. You play your best not just for yourself but for the team because the team always comes first, on and off the court.”