A Tall Ferns aspirations in becoming a Silver Fern

ENERGETIC triple-code star Parris Mason has shifted her sights from the Tall Ferns and the lack of Olympic Games aspirations to pursue her netball dreams.

The 21-year-old has always been a force on court whether that be in basketball or netball.

Mason has played at high levels of netball, basketball and touch footy. But ever since she picked up a netball, she knew something was different and put her heart and soul into every minute.

“I haven’t always been in defence, but I just drifted that way at a young age and then I got picked up at a young age, so I just stayed in defence the whole time,” she told Rookie Me Central.

At five years old, the Tamaki local first stepped out on court where she “fell in love” with the game. Her mum was really into netball and continued progressing up the Netball New Zealand pathway. It was the first sport that really spoke to her.

Mason played in under 7s and continued playing representative netball all throughout the pathway when attending New Plymouth Girls High. She was in the prems team from year nine to year 11. Mason then moved to Manakuta in year 12 to pursue her netball career.

During the second half of her high school years, Mason played in the New Zealand Secondary Schools competition and was selected in the NZ Secondary School squad for 2019 and named in the tournament team.

Mason (top row second from left) playing for New Plymouth in the NNZ Secondary Schools competition in 2018 (Image: Alesha Williams)

Straight out of high school, Mason signed a contract with the Central Pulse in the ANZ Premiership while playing for their developmental side Central Manawa in the National Netball League, winning a title in 2021. Mason was also part of the Pulse’s premiership winning team in 2022.

Mason knew the Pulse Head Coach Yvette McCausland-Durie who was the deputy principal at Manukura in Palmerston North. Mason was already in the pathway for the Central region, but her move to Manukura prompted McCausland-Durie to place Mason in the pathway that was connected to her schooling.

She described the ordeal as very lucky knowing the right person at the right time.

In her last year of school, Mason officially began her training partner position at the Pulse after joining several training sessions before the COVID riddled season. Someone departed from the Pulse so Mason got elevated.

Mason playing for Tokomanawa Queens in the Tauihi Basketball League (Image: Parris Mason/Instagram)

2022 continued to be a big year for Mason who signed with the Tokomanawa Queens who won the inaugural Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa title, the new national women’s basketball league at the time.

“I love being in the Tall Ferns environment. It was an unreal campaign, unreal girls, unreal coaching,” Mason said.

Her standout season saw her earn her first call up into the Tall Ferns, New Zealand’s women’s basketball team. She was part of the under 17s side in 2019 and competed in the FIBA Oceania championships winning a silver medal.

It began to be difficult balancing all three sports, but the support of Mason’s family, coaches and support staff helped her persevere and establish a balance in life “rinse and repeat”.

“It’s definitely something you’ve got to get used to and something that takes a lot of trial and error,” she said.

“Over the years, I just have understood how to manage myself, but it’s extra special when you know that other people are looking out for you and other people are supporting you, whether it’s a sport or not.”

Mason playing for the Central Pulse in 2023 (Image: Graeme Laughton-Mutu)

It eventually got too much and Mason decided to rule herself out of the Tall Ferns squad for the Olympic qualifiers. Unless she wants to play at a national level at the end of the year, she has put basketball on a hiatus to make more room for her netball commitments.

“I’m ready to focus on netball for a while and really put my head down and work hard for netball,” Mason said.

“As much as it gets me giving up an Olympic campaign at this stage it’s something my heart just wasn’t quite into.”

Mason dabbled in touch footy in school from year 10, but gave it up to have some balance in life. As much as she loved it, she wasn’t able to play it as much as she’d like.

In order to go all out on her sporting aspirations, Mason put a hold on her degree, studying a Bachelor of Science. She was majoring in chemistry and minoring in maths. Still unsure of whether or not she’ll return to studying, Mason has enough credits to be a chemistry teacher, but sport is her first priority.

The current focus is on netball and only netball.

“My focus is there at this stage, but I do look to hopefully get back into studying in the future,” she said.

Mason in the NZ under 21s squad in 2020 for the Cadbury netball Series (Image: Paris Lokotui/Instagram)

Mason has plied her trade as a New Zealand under 21s squad member and is currently a part of the Silver Ferns development squad. Her work at the Pulse has pulled her slowly but surely into the main senior squad.

She wants to join Kate Heffernan as a dual-international who is a current Silver Ferns squad member and former White Fern in cricket.

The black dress has always caught Mason’s eye. The Silver Fern on the front and being a part of a community that has seen only 187 people be a part of.

“I’ve always wanted it, it’s been a dream since I was very young. I’m so close, but I’m still very far away from getting there,” Mason said.

“At this stage, it’s just getting there, getting to the black dress, and having an amazing career in both franchise and international netball.”

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