Claire Maxwell lifts the lid on Strathclyde Sirens' new Superleague set-up
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 10/11/19 3:15pm
Claire Maxwell opens up to Sky Sports about the important of self-evaluation, balancing playing and coaching and shares why she believes Strathclyde Sirens are well-positioned for the 2020 Vitality Netball Superleague season.
The 31-year-old, who has been with Sirens since its inception as a franchise, was announced as their new assistant coach in August and she will combine that role with her commitments as a player.
Alongside Maxwell there will be a new head coach, Lesley MacDonald, and Karen Atkinson stepped into the role of their technical director back in May.
The trio are all experiencing 'firsts' in Scotland, however, Maxwell believes this is a positive for the franchise and it will help to enhance their position within Superleague.
"We're all aware that it's Karen's first time being involved with Sirens, it's Lesley's first time being a head coach and it's my first time being player-coach, but we've seen that it actually brings a freshness," Maxwell told Sky Sports.
"I think that one of the best qualities is someone that can be really reflective and that can self-evaluate. I believe that all three of us have got that... we're probably our own worst critics at times.
"So, being able to bounce ideas off each other and really trusting in each other is a strength of the group."
The coaching combination of Maxwell and MacDonald is a tried and tested one. Back in 2017, with MacDonald as head coach and Maxwell as her assistant, the duo led a Scotland side to their highest placing at the World Youth Cup.
"That [coaching together before] gave me a lot of belief," Maxwell said.
"Belief in the fact that we've been successful before, that we have already created a good dynamic and that we trust each other in these roles.
I've been in Sirens' squad for a long time now and I've been in the Superleague since it started. I think there have been valuable lessons that I've learnt and with having the assistant coach position it just gives me more opportunity to help make those changes and help share my learnings.
Following the recent Netball World Cup, Maxwell and MacDonald made a trip over to Australia; a trip that gave them exposure to the inner workings of two Suncorp Super Netball sides as they built towards the final stages of their season.
The venture was made possible by the contacts of their technical director, Atkinson and ultimately, it proved to be a fruitful one.
"It was a really valuable experience and at times, it was kind of humbling. It allows you to see that what they are doing is not too different to what you're doing but, the intensity that they worked at was phenomenal.
"Obviously, with them being full-time athletes it enables them to create a really special environment," Maxwell said.
"Hopefully, full-time is the next step for netballers within the Superleague and I think that the value of getting that would be priceless in terms of the outcome that it would create.
"We've got a long way to go to reach that point but I think that we're definitely making valuable steps forwards.
"Every year the competition gets stronger, every year there seems to be more opportunity for teams within it as well, whether that's financially or just to train on a more full-time basis."
Right now, both Sirens' coaches and players have their eyes fixed on another block of pre-season training which includes a pre-season tournament in Bath.
For all Superleague sides their sights are firmly fixed on the Season Opener on February 22, 2020, which is live on Sky Sports, and Maxwell believes that Sirens will be ready to make steps forwards next season.
"I think that every year with Sirens we have learned something new and hopefully this year we will again," she said.
"We're looking to make that next step up and be really competitive and consistent with our play. We're not naive because we know how competitive the league is, but we've got a lot of belief in our group.
"The Emirates Arena is a fantastic venue to play in and our fans are really loyal and they come in week in and week out.
"We have our Fan Zone afterwards and it all adds to what we're trying to create as a franchise in terms of making a difference to our community, making a difference our nation but also making a difference within the league."
Sky Sports is your home of netball and live action returns with the Vitality Roses' three-Test tour to South Africa. The first Test from the Velodrome in Cape Town will be shown live on November 29 at 5.00pm.