Surrey Storm captain and Superleague stalwart Naida Hutchinson has confirmed that she will hang up her trainers to mark the end of an incredible 12-year career.
An 18-year-old Hutchinson kicked off her professional career in 2005 with Hertfordshire Mavericks (now Benecos Mavericks) as part of the first Superleague line-up, before making her international debut just a year later and notching numerous appearances for The Roses in her 8 year England career. Hutchinson was also part of the successful U21 team who won Silver at the World Youth Cup in Fort Lauderdale in 2005.
A long-term knee injury saw Naida sit out of the game for a number of seasons, before making a huge comeback 2 seasons ago and even receiving a reserve call-up for the national side in 2015.
The veteran defender made her Storm debut during the 2017 Vitality Netball Super league season being named the 2017 highest rebounder and 8th on the intercepts list, instantly became a fans favourite thanks to a number of powerful, controlling performances in the duck egg blue dress.
Following the news, Naida said: “I can’t quite believe that I have said the words to be honest, it still feels quite surreal like I would always play! However, this is the right time for me to stop for my body and also my life.
“Netball has been such a huge part of my life and I am sure it will continue but in a different capacity. I will miss playing the game and walking my team out but maybe not so much the 90 minute journeys to training and games!
I have been very fortunate to have played with and against some of the greatest players of this game. Netball has made me a better person and athlete. I never thought at 16 I would be the gym lover that I am now! My injury has provided me with a mental strength I didn’t think I had in me. Netball has provided me with some of the best and hardest life experiences and for that I can’t thank my sport enough.”
Surrey Storm Director of Netball, Tania Hoffman, said: “Surrey Storm were incredibly lucky to have a player of the calibre of Naida lead our team through a challenging rebuilding season. It is a testament to Naida’s character and determination that she managed to dominate and stand out on court after putting herself though a harrowing and time consuming rehabilitation.
“Her leadership and passion on and off the court will be missed by not only the team but also our fans. On behalf of everyone at Surrey Storm we wish her well for her playing retirement.”
Maggie Jackson at Mavericks said: “Naida represented Mavericks for many seasons and her strength and presence on the court in the black and purple was outstanding. Respected and popular with fans, players, coaches and volunteers alike, she will always be be considered a member of our Mavericks family.
“Naida developed strongly as a player over the years, particularly after the serious knee injury she incurred in 2011 that meant she had to learn how to train and play again; it is great credit to her determination that she managed to return successfully to playing in the Superleague.
“She always demanded 100% from herself and her team mates and we wish her well in her retirement from the game and in the next stage of her netball career. Naida has a lot to offer others and I personally looks forward to seeing what comes next.”
Everyone at Surrey Storm would like to thank Naida for her dedication and commitment to the club during the last season.