Youth and experience combine
Stawell will look to consolidate an improved 2016 season by advancing even further in 2017.
The Warriors made a return to Wimmera Netball Association finals last year after a tough 2015, defeating Dimboola and Warrack Eagles before falling short of Minyip-murtoa in the preliminary final.
Stawell has retained the majority of last season’s players, although A Grade coach Kelly Cosson has made several changes to her line-up.
The Warriors have lost defender Kellie Sommerville, who has left Stawell because of work commitments, but will cover the loss with recruit Johanna Kelly.
“Johanna is new to the club. She’s a new doctor in town and she’s going to play a defensive role for us,” Cosson said.
“We’ve also picked up Heidi Sudholz, who played for Rupanyup last year. She’s started as a teacher in Stawell and is looking forward to being part of a local club and playing sport.”
Sudholz will play in the midcourt.
Cosson has also elevated two players still eligible for 17 and unders.
Tarnee Orr will play in the midcourt, while newcomer Maggie Clough will play in the midcourt and goals after transferring from Navarre.
The team has retained midcourter-shooter Jemma Clarkson, defender Lisa Fleming, goalie Ebony Summers and midcourter-defender Maddi Jelly.
“I’m really happy with the team,” Cosson said.
“We’ve got a really good blend of youth, with the girls who are still eligible for 17 and unders, and experience through the girls who have spent several years in A Grade.”
Cosson said the club had attracted good numbers throughout pre-season.
“All teams have been selected. We have eight in each squad, except for the under13s, who have a team of 10,” she said.
“Our under-13s unfortunately lost the grand final after an undefeated season, which was disappointing for them after a great year.
“All grades will be aiming to finish higher this year than last year.
“Our focus is to finish as high as we can – we’re definitely aiming for finals for all grades.”
Cosson said A Grade would look to adopt a different style of game play for 2017.
“We’ve been working on some things we haven’t done before, developing some new strategies, such as being more defensive when we’re bringing the ball down the court,” she said.
Cosson said it was difficult to know what the competition would have in store this year.
“We have four new players and some of the players who were part of the team last year will be playing different positions this year,” she said. “We’re a relatively new side and it will take us a while to gel and get the mix right.
“It will also take us a good round to get to know everyone else’s game style.”
Stawell will launch its 2017 Wimmera Netball Association campaign against traditional rival Ararat on Good Friday.
“It’s not far away,” Cosson said. “It feels like we haven’t played netball in a really long time. We started tryouts in the first week of February so we’re definitely ready and looking forward to it.”
YOUNG GUN: Goalie Ebony Summers, pictured playing against Ararat last year, will be back in action for Stawell in 2017. The Warriors and the Rats will go head to head in round one. Picture: DON PHILLIPS