England Netball has been informed that Netball Super League (NSL) and International Umpire Kate Stephenson has taken the decision to retire from the sport to focus on bringing up her baby daughter Eva.
Kate began umpiring nationally in 2011 receiving her Europe Netball A Award and joined the NSL in the same year. During her time in the NSL, Kate has umpired a massive 162 matches. At World level, Kate received her International Umpire Award (IUA) in 2014 and went on to umpire 87 international matches including series in Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as numerous appointments to Europe Netball Championships in the home nations countries. Her international highlights include the 2017 World Youth Cup Final in Botswana and the 2019 Netball World Cup Final in Liverpool.
Kate has also worked for England Netball as a course tutor and umpire assessor for many years and has dedicated a huge amount of time to her local officiating community in Leicestershire as the County Officiating Lead, as well as being a mentor and assessor at numerous events across the East Midlands.
Fellow NSL Umpire and East Midlands colleague Lizzie Saywell said “Kate has been a fantastic role model for umpires in the East Midlands and across the country. She has been a great support in my own umpiring journey and her international credentials speak for themselves. She will be greatly missed in the netball community.”
Reflecting on her time in Netball Kate said “I am so grateful to the entire netball community both in Leicestershire and across the country for all the support I have had over the years. None of what I have achieved would have been possible without you all. It’s impossible to pick out one highlight of my career as there have been so many, and most are away from the court. It might be the joy I feel when an umpire I have mentored passes an umpiring award or perhaps the friendships I have made. I do really enjoy the changing room banter now that teams see umpires not as the enemy, but who are contributing to the sport being the best it can be.
The decision to step away from netball has actually been one of the easiest I have ever made. It has taken a long time for me to become a mum with many heartaches along the way. My daughter is my greatest ever achievement and it is now time for me to dedicate my time to her, bringing her up to be the best person she can be. Maybe one day she will be on a netball court, but she will definitely not be giving the umpires any back chat!”
Speaking about Kate’s contribution to the sport, England Netball’s Head of Officiating Gary Burgess said “Kate has given tirelessly and selflessly to our sport for many years and has travelled extensively across the World as a result.
Kate has attended all of the big tournaments including the World Youth Cup (2017), the Commonwealth Games (2018) the Netball World Cup (2019), racking up quite a few finals as well! Kate has also taken part in the blue-ribbon Constellation Cup between Australia and New Zealand on many occasions. Whilst incredibly special and outstanding career milestones, it is Kate’s work with the Marion Smith Disabilities tournament that I know holds a special place in her heart. Kate said herself that she celebrated every goal scored at those championships like it was a gold medal winner! That speaks volumes of the woman I have had the privilege of working with for so many years”.
On behalf of everyone at England Netball we would like to thank Kate her years of dedication and the many sacrifices that she made during the course of her career and look forward to celebrating her contribution at the Netball Super League Season Opener in Nottingham in a few days’ time.