Southern Mallee aiming high
Southern Mallee Giants enjoyed a strong Horsham District league debut in 2016, but injuries to key players late in the season proved costly come finals.
The Giants will look to improve on last year’s result under the leadership of newcomer Kelly Gray.
Gray said she was excited about her first coaching role.
“I’ve umpired and played for many years,” she said.
“I joined the club in about June or July last year after moving up here.
“The club approached me about coaching because they thought it was a good chance to have some fresh eyes and I thought I’d give it a go.”
Gray, a defender, will be a playing coach.
The Giants have retained several of last year’s A graders, but have several big losses in young-gun shooter Zali Brown, defender Maddelyne Foott and versatile Amy Walder.
“Zali has gone to university, Maddelyne is pregnant and Amy recently gave birth to her first child,” Gray said.
She said the club had welcomed back former players Trudi Hallam, who played a handful of games in 2016 after returning from having a baby, and Codie Robins.
Both are likely to play A Grade, although teams will be finalised this week.
The Giants have also picked up Caitlin Hickey, who will travel from Melbourne to play.
Midcourter Emma Uebergang – who was equal league best and fairest last year despite breaking a wrist in round 14 – will return for the Giants in 2017.
Gray said pre-season had gone well.
“We’ve had quite a few play- ers come along,” she said. Gray said coaches had concentrated on fitness, ball skills and footwork throughout pre-season, putting everything together in practice matches against Wimmera outfit Warrack Eagles.
“For me personally, that made it more exciting,” Gray said.
“You can have intra-club scratch matches but it’s not the same as playing someone else.”
Gray said the club would aim high across the board in 2017.
“Our aim is to make finals and be competitive in all grades,” she said.
“The club had a good year last year and we would like to build on that.”
The Giants’ A Grade, C Reserve and 15 and unders made finals in 2016, with the latter two teams falling short in thrilling grand finals that went down to the wire.
Gray said she looked forward to learning more about Horsham District competition.
“I’m pretty new to the league, but talking to people, Harrowbalmoral comes up as one to watch,” she said.
“In saying that, I’m expecting every game to be a hard game. But it’s good if the competition is strong. It makes it more interesting.”
Gray said she looked forward to representing the Giants.
“I’m really excited to be at the club,” she said.
“It’s a really good family club – it’s a lot of fun and everyone has been really welcoming.
“I’m looking forward to the year ahead.”
BACK IN ACTION: Reigning equal Horsham District league A Grade best and fairest Emma Uebergang will return for Southern Mallee Giants in 2017.