By the time she finished primary school, Caitlin Bassett was close to six feet tall.
Growing up, she’d assumed being taller than everyone her age was perfectly normal. Then the comments and stares began — and nowhere did she feel her height more keenly than during her daily train ride to school.
“I had to put up a wall. It was constant; people were in my face saying, ‘Oh my God, how tall are you?’ ‘Look how tall that girl is!’ or making comments about how big my feet were,” Bassett recalls.
At the time, the Blythewood girl couldn’t have possibly have known her height would be the gateway to a professional sporting career. Like most self-conscious teens, she wanted nothing more than to be just like her peers.
“I wanted to fit in and wear the cool clothes they were all wearing, but none of that stuff fit me,” she admits. “I kind of wanted to be invisible.”
Despite her wishes, ‘invisible’ is the last word anyone would use to describe Caitlin Bassett.
She’s played at the Commonwealth Games and two Word Championships, taking home gold at all three, and last year she bagged the Liz Ellis Diamond — netball’s most prestigious individual award. Not bad.
It’s no secret that height is an asset on the netball court — every tall girl in the country has fielded the ‘so, do you play netball?’ question countless times — so it’s surprising to learn Bassett was a relative latecomer to the game.
One of her Year Six sports teachers saw her potential and got her into the school netball team. “I had never played before, and he put me down the defense end [thinking that] with my long arms and legs I would be pretty intimidating,” she says.