She’s one of the most athletic netballers in the world and she’s based right here in Auckland. We caught up with Kayla Cullen of the SKYCITY Mystics.
What sports were you into as a kid?
I was a tomboy and played everything. I was right into basketball, netball, athletics, volleyball, touch, rugby, anything really. Except swimming. I was useless at swimming. We were graded for swimming, with the good kids being Dolphins, the next best Sharks and the last group were Snappers. Obviously, I was a Snapper. I just couldn’t do it.
Can you tell us a bit about your family background?
I’m the second-youngest of seven kids. I’ve got five brothers and a sister. Dad grew up in Kaikohe while Mum is from the
Falkland Islands. In Spanish, the Falklands are called Las Islas Malvinas. That’s where my middle name, Malvina, comes from.
If you weren’t a netballer, what would you be doing?
I think I would be focusing on my basketball and trying to get to the Olympics. But outside of sport, I would love to get into
interior design, floristry or something in fashion or beauty.
You’ve had some major injuries. How’d you deal with those challenges?
I’ve had two ACL knee reconstructions. One on each leg. Both took me out for roughly a year. The rehab was not only physically demanding but mentally taxing as well. My family and supporters were a critical part of getting me back on the court and I’m so thankful for them.
What’s your biggest asset on court?
I’ve played in a lot of positions, from shooting as a youngster, to defending, to now mostly playing in the midcourt. That’s offered perspectives on the game that not everyone gets to see. But I think my biggest asset is conning people. So looking like I’m not interested and then pouncing and having the speed to get there and make an intercept or get a deflection.
Anything with chocolate in it.
And, lastly, I hear you’re a bit of a Justin Bieber tragic. Is this true?
I was never really into Biebs until his latest album Purpose. But I got hooked on the tune ‘Sorry’, with the Kiwis girls dancing in the video, and things changed. I got the album, played it all summer, made everyone listen to it in my car or whenever the SKYCITY Mystics were in camp. It got a bit out of hand, and Cat Tuivaiti threatened to stage an intervention, but I think I’m regaining control now.
You can catch Kayla Cullen and her SKYCITY Mystics teammates at The Trusts Arena, Henderson, taking on
the Magic (June 6), Swifts (June 26) and Tactix (July 2).