Get this team a drink, but where’s the fridge?
ONLY a few months ago they were scrambling around getting biros and balls as the coach asked “does anyone have a whistle?’’
It’s all happened so quickly they have got their hands on the trophy before they’ve got an office fridge.
So quickly that their supporters are still being educated on when to cheer — not that they need much encouragement for they are a hearty and loyal crew.
Welcome to the exotic success story of the Sunshine Coast Lightning netball side, the team that rose from ground zero to be groundbreakers and premiers in their first year.
Coach Noeline Taurua shakes her head in wonderment at the journey and has colourful memories of walking in to their new office at the University of the Sunshine Coast for the first time.
“When we walked in it was an old psychology student hall with the double windows and curtains,’’ Taurua said.
“But we were happy because we had four walls and a building and we knew we wanted to put our own flavour.
“We had to do everything. I remember in those early days asking ‘where are the balls … do we have a whistle?’ We still don’t have a fridge.
“Paper, pens, those sort of things which you just took for granted previously … at times you laughed at it all.’’
The Lightning have done more than win a title in their first year — they have given a sporting face to a region that was craving someone to love.
Think Sunshine Coast sport and you think … who?
Grant Kenny? Hang on, he first made headlines way back in 1980 when he won the Australian junior and senior ironman titles in the one day.
Kayaker Clint Robinson? Sure, but his Olympic gold medal was won 25 years ago.
Pat Rafter’s family lived at Eumundi for a while, Mal Meninga’s family passed through the region, Allan Langer and Billy Moore bought restaurants and the great Norm Provan moved there in retirement.
But there’s no doubt about it. The Sunny Coast was dying for someone to wrap their loving arms around and now it has it. All those Gold Coast sporting teams that went up in smoke must be rolling in their graves.
“The support has been amazing right from the start. You go to supermarket and people stop you but they are also very respectful,” Taurua said. “They will say hello but they are not in your face. That is the Sunny Coast for you.’’
It has added to the side’s story that they play out of a tiny perpetually sold out 2000-seat venue at the University of the Sunshine Coast which has the flavour of the massive family backyard barbecue.
They could not train on the venue last week because there was University exams.
“We call our stadium boutique,’’ Taurua said.
“You pretty much know everybody. People come up behind you and tap you on the shoulder and that just makes part of the atmosphere.”
There were yellow shirts everywhere in the crowd of around 9000 last night — surely most of the 2000 rusted-on regulars.
The day will come when recruits will say their journey started when they were inspired by the premiers of 2017 who had everything bar an office fridge.
A shame really because if any win deserves a cold drink, it’s this one.