Southern Stars and VicSpirit spinner Kristen Beams recently joined the team at ACA HQ as she prepares to step in as the National Manager of the ACA Past Player Game and Personal Development Program while Clea Smith takes maternity leave at the end of the month.
It has been a busy year for Kristen, following her international debut during the South Stars' series against the West Indies.
Kristen joined us to chat about the new role, her cricket and what she's getting up to away from the cricket field.
First of all, welcome to the ACA.
You arrived during one the biggest and most emotional fortnights imaginable. What was that like from your perspective?
It has been a difficult time for everyone in the cricket community, we are all affected and saddened. My thoughts have been with Phillip's family and friends.
With many ACA staff involved in the response to Phillip's tragic injury and passing, did this offer you a different or deeper insight into the organisation?
I've always had an incredible amount of respect for what the ACA does, being so well supported as a player. The response to Phillip's injury has been nothing short of incredible. It's a privilege to now have the opportunity to join this team of great people.
Despite all that's being going on, you've had a little bit of time to settle in at ACA HQ. What does your role here involve and how did it come about for you?
I will be taking on the role of National Manager Past Player Game and Personal Development Program whilst Clea Smith is on maternity leave. I was working for the industry body for printing prior to taking the role. The Past Player Game and Personal Development Program has been hugely successful and I jumped at the opportunity to work for the ACA.
Where's the program headed in 2015?
The program continues to go from strength to strength, we have exceeded our target for game development appearances and the number of past players supported through our grants program. We will be striving to engage more ACA members and increase the number supported in 2015.
Which aspect of the role are you most looking forward to?
Working with our State Coordinators to continue to provide a quality program, along with getting to know as many ACA Members and supporting them as best I can!
Your cricket journey has been one of desire, dedication and perseverance. When you were playing in Tasmania, was the thought of playing State and even international cricket something you envisaged?
Like most kids I dreamt about it, I'm pretty sure I told my dad I would play cricket for Australia when I grew up... that was pretty ambitious for a 7 year old ! I always thought that if I worked hard enough some luck may come my way. I've always been more determined than talented.
Tell us a little about the early days when you were striving to play for the VicSpirit because Tasmanian Roar weren't yet established.
It had its challenges, but I loved every minute. I played men's cricket for two great clubs (Westbury Shamrocks CC and South Hobart Sandy Bay CC) before I started flying to Melbourne on weekends to play for Essendon Maribyrnong Park Ladies CC whilst being Rookie contracted for the VicSpirit. I eventually made the decision that I needed to move to Melbourne, having been in and out of the VicSpirit team, to see if I was good enough to be a WNCL cricketer. That was a hard decision, I love Tassie and enjoyed working for Cricket Tasmania.
If crossing Bass Strait and having to establish yourself on and off the field weren't challenges enough, you also did it whilst trying to master one of the game's toughest crafts in leg-spin. Why!?
A coach once told me that everyone bowled medium pace and that given I wasn't going to get any taller, (they were right) I should try something else. Shane Warne at that time was the most dominant bowler in world cricket, so I went with leg spin !
You've managed to combine your cricket with a few positions in the game and also outside of it; tell us a bit about your career leading up until now?
My first job was with Cricket Tasmania as the Women's Cricket Officer before moving to Melbourne and taking on the role of Community Cricket Officer with Cricket Australia. I then worked with VicSport and in the printing industry. I've been lucky to work with amazing people and organisations both in and out of sport.
How do go about keeping a work, life, cricket balance?
Is there such a thing as work, life, cricket balance?! I just try and do the best I can, work hard, smile often and drink lots of coffee.
How have the advances in support for women's cricketers in recent years been a help?
As we are so well supported as players by the ACA and Cricket Australia, it will continue to get better and better. The women's game has changed a lot in recent years and that's no surprise given the increased support and professionalism.
Any news on the study front?
I deferred my Human Movement degree many years ago to start my first job. Thanks to the ACA Ed Grants, I'm now going to complete my degree in 2015.
You completed a Beyond the Boundary placement with Inspired Heads in Sport Leadership Coaching earlier this year. What did you take from that?
I had the privilege of working with Leigh Russell from Inspired Heads, learning about leadership and organisational development.
What value is there for members to take up opportunities like the ACA's Beyond the Boundary program?
ACA Members who don't take up the Beyond the Boundary Program are missing out. It's a great opportunity to experience different industries to find the best fit for you and your ambitions, whilst making connections with leaders who could influence your career in the future.
You recently made your Southern Stars debut. Tell us about that experience and what it meant to you.
It still feels a bit surreal to be honest. I thought the opportunity had passed me by (I debuted a few months before my 30th birthday). They are a great bunch of girls and I've made the most of every second being a Southern Star.
Your rise has been steady and a terrific achievement given the strength of the Southern Stars in recent years; how did your game improve to the point where you had to be picked?
People say that spinners take a bit longer to develop, I'm not sure exactly when or how it all changed for me. I played a county cricket season for Essex in 2013 and really enjoyed the experience. From that point on I really focused on enjoying my cricket and things have fallen into place from there. I land a lot more leg breaks these days, it's a nice feeling.
No doubt you've had some significant people helping guide you in both a cricketing and non-cricketing sense; any you'd like to mention?
There are too many to mention and I know I'd miss someone if I mentioned names. I'm thankful for every coach, volunteer, cricket club, team mate, work mate, family member and friend that has helped me get to here, it really does take a lot of people to support a cricketer both on and off field.
What are you hoping to achieve on and off the field in the coming months?
On field - helping EMPLCC and the VicSpirit to some premierships (fingers crossed).
Off field - to get stuck into the role and meet/work with as many of our members as possible and make a contribution to the Past Player Game and Personal Development Program.