Shooting star rises to the top
Netballer takes on league’s best
KRISTINA Brice has emerged as netball’s hottest new property after a “crazy” season in which she won the ANZ Championship’s best new talent award.
The in-demand Hassall Grove shooter had left Sydney for Adelaide expecting only to train with the Thunderbirds but ended up making a big impact on court.
Now she is likely to be involved in contract talks with more than one club to sort out where she will play next season.
“It depends on who offers me what, and how it can all work around my uni studies and work. In the end I’ll make the decision that’s best for my netball,” the 22-yearold shooting star said.
Brice is in the third year of a health science degree at Western Sydney University’s Penrith campus, part of an elite athlete program that enabled her to complete some units while in Adelaide with the Thunderbirds.
She also takes coaching clinics for Netball Australia.
“I didn’t expect this award. I didn’t even expect any court time when I went to Adelaide,” she said.
It’s been crazy, one thing after another. I just happened to be there. I didn’t expect this. Kristina Brice
“I was contracted as a 13th player, looking to do some training, get some experience interstate and end up in a good spot to be selected for the next season.
“But so many players got injured and sick. It’s been crazy, one thing after another. I just happened to be there.”
Brice took her opportunities with both hands after injury hit veteran shooter Carla Borrego.
She notched up eight appearances, with 226 goals from 262 attempts at 86 per cent accuracy, taking on some of the league’s best.
She was instrumental in helping the bottom-placed Thunderbirds to their only two wins of the season, picking up a most valuable player award against Central Pulse in New Zealand.
Brice followed in the foot- steps of formidable shooters Mwai Kumwenda (2014) and Jhaniele Fowler-Reid (2013) when she was named the league’s best new talent of 2016.
Her self-assurance grew as her time on the court increased.
“Knowing that the girls knew I was going to do my job made it easier for me and gave me more confidence going into games,” she said.
“Being able to get out there and have a go has been a bonus.
“I’m really happy with how I’m playing at the moment.”
Brice thanked her teammates, coaching and support staff for her confidence.
“Getting more consistent training, having coaches who have put the time and effort into me has really helped,” she said.
The 196cm shooter, second-tallest player in the Australian Conference, began as a defender when she started with Hassall Grove at the age of six.
She moved up front when she switched to Baulkham Hills as a 13-year-old.
Kristina Brice (right) has impressed on court this season. Picture: Keryn Stevens