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Thristina tops them all with MVP year in 2013

Thristina Harwood’s year in netball for 2013 has been the stuff of dreams. The 19 year old University of the West Indies (UWI) student has shone brightly at club, collegiate and national level for the Sunshine Girls with her crowning moment being named Most Valuable Player of the Fast Net Competition in New Zealand in November.

Thristina Harwood’s year in netball for 2013 has been the stuff of dreams. The 19 year old University of the West Indies (UWI) student has shone brightly at club, collegiate and national level for the Sunshine Girls with her crowning moment being named Most Valuable Player of the Fast Net Competition in New Zealand in November.

 

After representing the UWI in the Berger League Harwood went on to represent Jamaica in the Test Series against England at the National Indoor Centre in Kingston Jamaica.

 

At the end of May she again donned her red and white uniform to represent the UWI Mona netball team at the biennial UWI Student Games played between the Mona, Cave Hill and St. Augustine campuses. Harwood led from the front for the victorious Mona team and received her first MVP title of the year at the games.

 

“It was really nice to be named MVP in my very first UWI Games, with Malysha Kelly a veteran of the games playing in the tournament as well, I kinda expected her to get the award so it was a pleasant surprise.”

 

There was no time for the 19 year old to catch her breath or enjoy a summer vacation as she had to prepare for a Tri-Nation Series involving England and Trinidad and Tobago in July. Jamaica dominated that series winning all their games in dominating fashion and once again, Harwood was a major force on Jamaica’s frontline.

 

“It was a good experience playing against those two countries and it gave us the understanding of how both of those teams played so we could be ready for them in August,” she said.

 

Harwood jetted off with the team to Scotland to play in the World Youth Championships in August and it was during this tournament that her true qualities started to shine through. Jamaica’s leading shooter during the Tri-Series with England and T&T Shantal Slater went down with a knee injury during the semifinals against New Zealand and it was then down to the rest of the team to carry the work load. 

 

Harwood took on the responsibility and led the team to a Bronze medal after a narrow and devastating semifinals loss to eventual champions New Zealand. The Young Girls went on to cop the third place medal by defeating England yet again to prove that the dominance in the Tri-Series was no fluke.

 

Not only did they leave with the bronze medal but they also left with the hearts and minds of the fans who watched the tournament in Glasgow.

 

“When I was told to take on the goal shooting role I was nervous but when I went on the court and took that first shot I was ready to show my true shooting skills.”

 

On her return to Jamaica, Thristina returned to school and with that came the local intercollegiate netball competition. She had been part of the team left heartbroken by the loss in the finals to MICO University in 2012, but she came up trumps in the 2013 final, finally getting her act together in the final quarter. After having an ordinary first three quarters, she started raining in the shots from outside in the fourth quarter to help her team secure the title.

 

“I didn’t have a good game before the final quarter. My shots just were not dropping in. But in the fourth quarter it was like I couldn’t miss,” she said.

 

 “Yu cyan imagine if mi gun did clean,” she joked.

 

All of what had gone on before earlier in the year was preparation for the teenager’s piece-de-resistance.

 

The Sunshine Girls headed to New Zealand for the World Fast Five Tournament  in November, fit, motivated and determined to win the tournament. The team was an exact mix of youth and experience, with 5 of the 10 member squad coming from the U21 team. 

 

Each performance by the Girls earned them fans in New Zealand as they performed incredibly well. They advanced to the semifinals to play against Australia and were very unfortunate to lose a close and exciting encounter. To their credit, the team was able to brush themselves off and inflict a crushing defeat on South Africa ending the game 44-17, to claim third place in the tournament.

 

At the end of the tournament Harwood was named MVP and this came as a huge surprise to her.

 

“I was shocked, surprised, I never expected to get that award, trust me,” she said with a huge smile.

 

 “I wasn’t even thinking about that. I expected it to go to Maria Tutaia. She was the crowd favourite because of her amazing long shots and she scored the most three pointers in the tournament and the most two pointers too. I was second behind her in the competition. I guess I surprised them with my performance because I am so young, yeaaa me,” she said with a huge grin.

 

The Business major says her mom keeps her motivated and was very happy about her individual award.

 

“My mom was excited and happy for me. Then she told me she knew I would come back with an award.”

 

Harwood has her eye on the ANZ League that is played in New Zealand but has no intentions of going pro before completing her degree. Despite being named MVP of the Fast Five, her teammates have helped to keep her grounded as she receives the same treatment as she did before the tournament.

 

Thristina is currently away with the Sunshine Girls competing in the Tri-Series that includes New Zealand and hosts England.

 

Photo: Thristina Harwood (Photo courtesy Netball Jamaica)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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