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A Women's Sports Alliance Production

Mikki Austin has firmly cemented herself as a key member of the Surrey Storm squad since signing in 2015. Part of the back-to-back title winning Superleague squad, Mikki is a vital role model in the club’s community coaching programme across London and the South East, leading sessions for adults and juniors to inspire people to take part in the sport. Austin was announced as Director of Netball on 19 July 2018 and spoke of her determination to take Storm to the top.

Mikki Austin | The Player Coach | Women's Sports Alliance
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Mikki Austin is the Director of Netball, Head Coach and Player for Vitality Netball Super League Team, Surrey Storm.

She became an instant success after joining in 2014 by guiding the team to their first title, which Storm defended in 2016. That year she won the first of three successive fan ‘player of the season’ awards, underlining her prowess and also wider popularity.


Then in 2018 Austin was appointed director of netball, a role which also saw the then 24-year-old become the youngest-ever head coach of a Netball Super League team.

She continues to juggle all three roles four years on.


“I’ve always been really open with people who ask that it’s really hard combining them and I’d be foolish to say that it wasn’t, however, I’m insanely lucky to do what I do!”


In her own words, Austin is the one who “does all the graft and takes none of the glory”, which is why we at the Women’s Sport Alliance (WSA) wanted to acknowledge not only her incredible commitment to developing netball, but also her successes in the sport.

Mikki Austin - The Player


After making her Superleague debut in 2011 at the age of 18 for Hertfordshire Mavericks she spent three years with the team before moving to current side Surrey Storm.


“Mikki Austin as a player is fire,” the centre tells the WSA. “She’s red, she is your energiser, she is your do or die, put your body on the line and grit your teeth.


“I don’t have a niche, I’m not extremely good at anything. I’m certainly not very tall, but what I reckon I have is a real ‘grit your teeth, you will not outwork me’ kind of mentality and that’s stood me in really good stead so far.”

Mikki Austin - The Head Coach


She always wanted to become a coach one day, but never predicted the opportunity would appear in her early twenties.


Although the timing was a shock, it was not a role she ever considered turning down. “Mikki Austin the coach is honest – for better or for worse – is well prepared, is diligent and is intense,” she tells the WSA.


“I’m very explicit before any player even signs for this franchise about my expectations and the values that I hold in really high regard, which are hard work and honesty.

“I think that’s really important because the nature of my role is really convoluted and playing for a player-coach isn’t for everyone.


“It’s really tough, because I want to be your friend, but I’m not your friend and at times I’ll act like your friend, but I’m the gaffer and when it comes down to it, it’s my job to make really hard decisions for the benefit of pushing this franchise forward.


“I try and do things the right way, in terms of sitting people down and having that

face-to-face and we try to be very subjective in the way we operate here. It’s not based on my opinion or what I think and feel, it’s based on statistics and numbers.”

Mikki Austin - The Director of Netball


Mikki Austin as the director is still learning and growing,” she admits to the WSA.


“The coaching opportunity presented itself six years earlier than I ever thought it would, but it included the director side of it.


“I’ve had to learn the commercial and finances, budgets, as well as the community element of our franchise, not just the performance side of it.”

The Challenges


“There are many different challenges through wearing so many hats and the biggest is probably time management,” she says.


“There are so many aspects of the business that require my attention, my input and it’s trying to balance where I can relinquish that control and say you know what maybe I need an oversight of that, but I don’t need to be involved.


“At first I probably let it consume far too much of my life and made a lot of sacrifices and mistakes along the way.


“After a year I had to actually sit down and go ‘was that actually beneficial?’ did any part of it actually get the best version of me?’ or was I just burning the candle at all ends and was just insanely run down and mentally broken.”

‘Blessed’ Life and Career


“Being a player at a professional level was a dream and all I ever wanted to do since the age of 12, so I feel so blessed that I’ve had a 12-year career so far in Superleague.


“There are only 11 teams in our league, so there’s only 11 coach spots in the whole league and I’m one of them. There are even fewer director and head coaches rolled into one, so I’m so blessed to be in this position, no matter how stressful it is.


“Win, lose or draw, I am really fortunate and I try to never really let that feeling pass me by because I know it won’t be here forever.


“That perspective is important too because I’m a person before I’m anything else.


“I’m a daughter, I’m a sister, I’m an aunty and all of those things are really important to me. What I do as a job is one tiny part of what makes me, me but it isn’t everything.”

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