The previous 12 months proved to be a highly successful period in the career of Vitality Roses and Manchester Thunder player Laura Malcolm.
The mid-courter added another Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) title to her growing collection and has been a valuable asset for Jess Thirlby’s Roses squad.
Now, with the Vitality Netball Nations Cup and another VNSL season on the horizon, another chapter of her netball story beckons.
“The first thing I did was play for my school”
Malcolm began her netball tale at the age of ten when she, as an active child inspired by her sports-mad family, took up the sport in primary school.
The youngster was originally encouraged to try every sport that she could and, due to her desire to become an athlete, duly obliged.
Beginning playing in defence, Malcolm was quickly recognised at county level and joined a junior netball club soon after.
“I was always sporty, I played every sport under the sun and first got into netball when I played as a goal keeper in year six. When I got introduced to netball, it was just another sport that I could play and enjoy. I played for county first and then started playing for a club,” she explained.
“I started as a goal keeper and goal defence because I got a lot more interceptions compared to some of my friends. I got to play half a game at goal shooter and half a game at goal keeper for a while. That was quite fun.
“When I was younger watching the Olympics, I always knew I wanted to become an athlete. I feel lucky enough that I’ve got into a position where I am playing elite sport.”
“I idolised a lot of netballers”
Coming from a sporting family, Malcolm was able to draw inspiration from her father and two older brothers. While they had little experience with netball, their sporting background and will for her to do well had a profound effect on her career.
Originally happy to mirror her brothers’ sporting endeavours, it was her father that began taking her to training and giving her feedback on her matches.
“My biggest influence growing up were probably my older brothers. Netball was the first thing that I could do that mirrored what they did with their football. I always wanted to do something similar to what they were doing. They were probably my biggest influences,” she said.
“The biggest impact on my career to date, though, would be my dad. He was very sporty himself and we would all grow up watching him play football. I remember him driving me to all my netball fixtures and all of my training.
“He’d give me feedback even though he didn’t play netball, he just knew sport really well. He’s always supported me and my brothers in everything that we do as has my mum.”
As she grew more experienced and more aware of a potential netball career, she began to idolise players at the top of their games.
At the elite level, fellow mid-courters Jade Clarke and Sara Bayman stand out to Malcolm as early sources of inspiration.
The duo has since become an even larger part in the Malcolm who has had the opportunity to learn from the pair off the court.
“I idolised a lot of netballers to be honest. As I got a bit older and started taking my netball more seriously, Jade Clarke and Sara Bayman became real netball idols of mine. Not just because of their amazing ability on court but because of the people they are,” she said.
“Sara knows everything about netball and I love having deep discussions with her. She has always supported me with my netball journey and it’s the same with Jade. They’ve been very supportive of me and are also just the nicest people in the world. They’re amazing players and amazing people.”
“I aspired to play for England as a young girl”
The Wolverhampton-born player has since become one of the most decorated players in VNSL history having won three titles in 2012, 2014 and 2019.
Having also played for Severn Stars, the 28 year old has become one of the most coveted players in the division and has channelled her form for her country as well.
After a number of international appearances at youth level, Malcolm made her debut for the Vitality Roses against Barbados in 2012 and has since earned more than 25 senior caps.
“After county, I began playing regional netball and got put forward to England from there. I played for U17s, U19s and then got into the senior squad. I worked my way up through the pathway even though it was a bit different to how it is now,” she commented.
“I never really thought about reaching this point. I just loved playing and training. I’ve always just wanted to get to the next level. As a competitive person, once you start playing at one level, it’s hard not to want to get to the next level.
“I aspired to play for England as a young girl but it wasn’t just a case of getting there, it was a case of getting better so when the next thing comes along I can to give my best shot.”
“I want to take every single opportunity”
The 2019/20 season has already provided a great deal of success for Malcolm, who has already vice-captained the Vitality Roses against South Africa and travelled on a tour of Australia and New Zealand.
Such is her stature in this squad, she will also vice-captain the Vitality Netball Nations Cup squad later this month as they look to lift another trophy under Head Coach Jess Thirlby.
Her individual aims, however, do not revolve around silverware but instead focus on improving aspects of her own game and enjoying every opportunity that comes her way.
“For the rest of the season, I just want to keep improving my overall fitness. I want to get faster, I want to get stronger, I want to get fitter and just keep enjoying the game,” she said.
“There’s a lot of opportunities being in this Roses programme; I just want to take every single one and enjoy each of them.
“It’s a very competitive team in both the Roses and at Thunder so I’d like to compete in my position and try and get myself on court as much as possible.”
Read our other Where It All Began instalments including; Halimat Adio, Eleanor Cardwell, Amy Carter, Jade Clarke, Rachel Dunn, Serena Guthrie, Jo Harten, Nat Panagarry, Yasmin Parsons and Fran Williams.