I’m predicting even if you do not religiously follow the Queensland Firebirds, you’ll be familiar with this sociable face by the end of the year. So, let’s kick off Lunch with Liz for 2016 with leggy blonde Gretel Tippett. Grets (as her friends call her) bounced onto a court as a WNBL (basketball) player, but after only 3 years, found herself forced to take a break due to a severe bout of Glandular fever. When her health returned it wasn’t the basketball she picked back up. After watching some tournaments on TV, she decided to try a change of code. 3 years after shooting her first hoop, she would be representing the country in Netball. Both her brothers Kurt and Joel play AFL professionally and you can only imagine what the youngest sibling had to achieve to keep up with the 6ft plus boys in the backyard. Gretel is the new breed of athlete, and in a time when brands and fans are turning to sporting star’s social media accounts, she is definitely one to follow. Lunch with Liz caught up with Gretel a few days before she flew out to England to play for the Australian Diamonds, at Yard Café, Nobbys Beach.
WHERE WE WENT: Yard Café, Nobbys Beach.
WHAT WE ATE: Seafood board – a selection of premium seafood, smoked and cured fish, Cuca tinned seafood, seafood rillettes, fresh seasonal crustaceans, sauces $42. Small salad of rocket, dukka and cherry tomatoes $6.
WHAT WE SIPPED: Energy juice – orange, pineapple, carrot and ginger. Watermelon Collins – Tito’s Vodka, watermelon, lemon, sour, soda top.
WHAT GRETEL WORE: Vintage denim jumpsuit from Vietnam
WHAT LIZ WORE: Portmans
How did you find the transition from basketball to netball?
“I thought looking at netball that I could transition a bit quicker than I did, but in my first game I got thirteen air balls, stepped five times and was pretty much awful! The netball is so much lighter and I found not having a backboard above the hoop tougher than I imagined. My body was so used to the way I moved on a basketball court that I had to unlearn so many habits that were detrimental to netball. In defense it was frustrating not being able to rip the ball from out of my opponents hands! All in all changing codes was a great challenge to tackle though.”
Did you always see yourself becoming an athlete of some kind?
“I actually always wanted to become a dietitian, sports related though! That’s what I am studying at the moment. I enjoy learning how food affects your performance. When I took that break with Glandular Fever I had such itchy feet to get back to playing sports and that’s when I started thinking of it as a possible career. As I was growing up we were always playing sports, it’s in my genes I think.”
What’s involved in your preferred training session?
“On Tuesday we usually have more of a tactical training session, where we analyse how we performed in the game the week before, and talk about the opposition – it’s very analytical. Whereas Thursday’s which are my favourite, we start with a game of some sort to get us warmed up like Touch Football and then we play a game of netball against each other. I just love playing – three on three, half court! Less drills, Thursday’s are my fave.”
Who inspires you?
“My brothers definitely inspire me. Gosh they were on my case over Christmas though! They are always training, they are so dedicated and I had England coming up so they wanted me to train with them all the time! I love watching them play their AFL games – that really motivates me. Laura Geitz our Netball captain also really inspires me. She’s an awesome person on and off the court and a great role model for all females.”
How do you prepare for each game?
“I live with our centre Kimmy Rav, so it makes routine really easy. After training we’re like “it’s Salmon night”. We know what we’re having, everyday of the week. Before a game we always go to Hawthorne Garage and get a coffee and fruit toast on the way to the stadium. Caffeine and carbs!”
How hard is it to fly and perform at games, especially trips such as England, or your more regular appearances in New Zealand and Perth?
“There’s a lot you can do to help, such as wearing skins on the plane and doing all the little 1 percenters (maintain hydration levels, walking around the plane every half hour, stretching, keeping the blood flowing). We are conscious while flying to keep our bodies right. We usually factor in a massage as soon as we arrive at the hotel; it gets your blood flowing through your legs again and corrects your body after being at high altitude. We have a light run through on the day of the flight and when we arrive that night we also go and shoot some hoops and get the legs moving again. Then in the morning we’re up and at it. We’re lucky we have such an awesome manager and she knows what we all eat so she gets us snacks. We have a buffet breakfast and at night she passes around the menu of the restaurant we will be eating at. Gietzy always has a steak before she plays, I always eat salmon, Rav gets Spaghetti Bolognaise and we also have to go to a place where Risotto is served for Gabby Simpson, our wing defence, otherwise if she doesn’t have her Risotto she’s very superstitious! We lost last time she didn’t have Risotto. Our manager does a good job; she always finds a place with all those options! We’re such divas!”
You have a side business ‘Tippett’s Health’ how did this come about?
“The website is actually about to be launched this year. I started it with my roommate and teammate Kimmy Rav. She’s a personal trainer. Younger netballers were always asking her how she keeps so fit and I always get asked to do nutrition talks at netball clinics because I’m studying dietetics. We thought it would be easier if we could give them a meal plan and show them how we keep fit for the season and this was the best way we could show younger plays how we train and eat. We’ve started writing six week programs, which will be on the website. We’ve already sold over 300 copies of our program!” www.ravfitandtipshealth.com.au
What is your approach to food? I know brother (Sydney Swans player Kurt Tippett) has a lot of raw food in his diet and is very conscious of eating ‘cleanly’?
“I’m not as obsessive with food as Kurt. I love all foods! I allow myself a cheat meal. I think for me, it’s just finding the right balance. I try and eat as clean as I can during the week and then after a game on the weekends I might have a pizza. I like to have a green smoothie once a day and I like to eat fresh food from the earth and limit my processed food. You can really feel the difference out on the court when you’ve been eating the right type of foods. I actually learnt during this last season that I was not fueling my body enough during my games. In the breaks I was too busy getting feedback and talking to people and I didn’t think to use that time to refuel my body as well. Then we started seeing a trend where I was hitting a slump in the fourth quarter. When we picked up on this I started sipping on Power Aid and having a few handfuls of dates in those breaks and it really helped. Higher glucose levels helped me concentration during the last quarter of the game too.”
The boys say ‘you’re the social butterfly of the family’. Would you agree?
“Yes I would! Kurt and Joel shy away from any social media, Kurt keeps talking about deleting his Instagram, but I’m very social, I enjoy meeting people and I am always texting the girls. I’m so used to being in a team environment and having that constant chatter and companionship. I love going to cool cafes and restaurants, I’m pretty outgoing as a person.”
What’s your goal for 2016?
“To win the ANZ championships again and make the Australian Diamonds team for the Constellation Cup after the season”.
This post is in honour of Gillian Willams. Gill was a passionate follower of the Firebirds and passed away on December 30th 2015, due to brain cancer. Please help find a cure at https://www.curebraincancer.org.au