Caitlin Thwaites: Navigating the new norm

Caitlin Thwaites is looking forward to celebrating this year’s Mother’s Day as a first time Mum.

Caitlin and partner Adam Carlson welcomed daughter Blake into the world in July 2021.

One of the longest-serving Australian Diamond players, Caitlin was an extraordinary athlete having represented Australia in both volleyball and netball.

Bendigo-born, Caitlin grew up playing netball in the Victorian pathway, beginning her professional career at the Melbourne Kestrels in 2002. She was a part of the inaugural Melbourne Vixens team for three years, winning the 2009 Premiership, before playing elsewhere.

She returned ‘home’ to the Vixens in 2019, and won another premiership in 2020.

Caitlin played 54 games for the Diamonds, scoring 1106 goals at 92 percent accuracy on the way to winning Commonwealth Games and World Cup gold medals. She retired from elite netball in 2020.

In 2022, following the birth of beautiful Blake, Caitlin signed on as specialist shooting coach with the Vixens, set to guide the development of the squad’s goalers.

We spoke to Caitlin about how she is navigating her new normal and balancing her elite coaching and media commitments with motherhood:

VIS: How has becoming a Mum changed you?

CT: Well, the transition into motherhood also coincided with a transition into retirement from “athlete life” for me, so there has been a lot of change.  As an athlete I had to be selfish in some ways to prioritize things that would get the best performance- my world now entirely revolves around my beautiful tiny human and everything that she needs! 

The appreciation and gratitude I have for my body has changed, even though as an athlete I utilized my body to do amazing strong things for my sport every day, but I have a deeper appreciation and gratitude for what my body was/is capable of throughout pregnancy, birth and breast feeding.

And my time management skills have been pushed to a whole new level balancing work and motherhood!

VIS: What is the best part of motherhood?

CT: Best part of being a Mum is getting to witness so many firsts.  Hearing her laugh, seeing her smile and watching a little bit more of her personality develop each day!

VIS: What does a typical day in your week look like?

CT: A Tuesday, for example, looks like this – well it starts the night before, making sure the pram is all ready in the back of the car, any food I might need for the day is ready in containers in the fridge, and the nappy bag is re-stocked.

Wake up at 7ish to the baby alarm.  Breaky and coffee, get Blake ready, get myself ready. Head off to Vixens training allowing time to change and feed bubs before training starts at 11.00. (Beautiful Vixens manager Lisa looks after Blake while I’m coaching).   

After training, feed and change her again, then jump in the car to head across town to VIS training in the afternoon. I might fit in a few phone calls or emails and a quick walk before VIS training at 4pm-5:30ish.  Get home, dinner, bath, bedtime routine. 

VIS: How do you practice self-care as a Mum?

CT: Practicing self-care as a Mum is tricky because I feel like I sacrifice a lot of myself to put Blake and others first. It looks like making sure I am hydrating and eating nutritious foods.  Taking time to see physio for my sore neck and back, or foam rolling and stretching (carrying a baby constantly and breast feeding is hard work on the body!).  Going for walks, and setting aside some “me” time every week!

VIS: How are you navigating the ‘new normal’ when it comes to balancing time at home with your family and the demands of elite coaching and media commitments?

CT: Finding a balance with the new norm has been difficult because I am going through these two big life transitions at once (post athlete life – and motherhood) and throw in a pandemic for good measure…. I’m finding my feet with new work opportunities in coaching and it has been really rewarding to know that I can pass on my knowledge to assist the next generation of athletes along their pathway.  I am also learning and trying my hand at commentating which has been an eye opener to see a different side of the game.

I wouldn’t be able to manage it without incredible support from my partner Adam, my family, and the wonderful people involved at VIS, Vixens and FOX.

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