Winikerei takes Mystics reins for 2023

THOUGH the ANZ Premiership off-season usually provides lots of player movement, the Northern Mystics have made an off-field change, with current apprentice coach Tia Winikerei appointed to the head coach position. Winikerei takes over from Helene Wilson who will move into a role at High Performance Sport New Zealand after six years in charge of the Mystics.

After conducting a thorough process, Winikerei was chosen to step up to take the reins for the 2023 season, with Mystics Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Phil Vyver and the board impressed by her “strong vision, deep understanding of the MG Mystics culture and her drive to be the best coach she can be”.

“Tia was very clear on what she wants, and the direction the team needs to go. Her vision to enhance the connection with our people, from the netball community to on court performance was exceptional,” Vyver said.

“Tia is an impressive person who constantly seeks the best out of all people and herself. She bleeds Mystics blue and has a deep understanding of the MG Mystics culture and players.”

Winikerei said she was excited to take on the extra responsibility, knowing the club well considering her role as an apprentice coach. She said in particular, she was looking forward to continuing to work with the other coaches and on-court experience.

“To have the expertise of Rob Wright and leadership of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson alongside me in my first year along with a strong team of players, who I have coached over the past two years, gives me confidence we can build on what has already been achieved at the MG Mystics,” Winikerei said.

Having spent the past two seasons as apprentice coach for the Mystics, Winikerei has formed a strong partnership with assistant coach and former Collingwood Magpies head coach, Wright.

“I know Tia can coach,” Wright said. “She has taken every opportunity to learn what it takes to succeed at a high performance level. I am excited to be led by her vision for the future direction of the MG Mystics.”

Winikerei has experience in a number of other roles at the club including the inaugural head coach of the Mystics Men’s side this season, as well as roles in as the athlete development lead and high performance manager. With the 2023 squad locked and loaded, the Mystics are ready to go one match further than their third placed finish in 2022.

Northern Mystics begin their season against Southern Steel at The Trusts Arena from 7pm on Saturday, March 4.

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