Kalkee strong across all grades
Incoming Kalkee A Grade coach Jaymi O’connor plans to instil a strong game sense across all grades throughout the 2018 Horsham District Football Netball League season.
O’connor, who joined the club last year from Wimmera outfit Horsham Demons, said she hoped her experience as a coach and player stood her in good stead for her first A Grade appointment.
“This will be my first year as an A Grade coach but I have coached senior netball teams before,” she said.
“I am super excited for the challenge of A Grade though.”
O’connor said game play and fitness were key aspects of pre-season. “We’ve had a good start,” she said. “We have some really enthusiastic girls among the group who are pushing us all so that we can improve on our fitness before the season begins.
“My main focus as coach is to instil a really strong game sense in all of our grades.
“Our girls are very skilled but have lacked an understanding of court structures and effective use of lanes, so hopefully we can improve on that this season.”
O’connor said the club had attracted fantastic numbers at pre-season training and selection sessions.
“There is a really good vibe among the group,” she said.
“Numbers are great and we will certainly be fielding all grades this season. I think all grades should be very competitive, which is an exciting situation for our club.”
Kalkee’s A Grade finished eighth in 2017.
All other Kees netball teams qualified for finals, with C Grade making the grand final.
“We were really disappointed with not making A Grade finals last season,” O’connor said.
“We lost some games we should have won early in the season that really cost us.
“We will be hoping to make finals this year and then anything can happen from there – in fact all grades should be aiming for a competitive finals series as we have some really strong inclusions across all four teams.”
O’connor, who will play B Grade, has taken over the reins from Bek Harvey, who will remain as a player and junior coach.
“We have a few inclusions this season in Jenna Bywaters, Britt Nitschke and Clair Mcdonald,” she said.
“These inclusions, plus keeping all players bar Anna Exell, will help us build on our improvements from last season.”
Nitschke and Bywaters will add extra strength and versatility in goals, alongside Tamara Exell.
“Our midcourt will remain similar to last season, which is exciting because those girls – Emily Hannan, Grace Braithwaite and Millie Mcrae – just continued to improve every week last year,” O’connor said.
“Clair’s inclusion will add some height to our defensive end, which will be great because it will give us more rebounding power.”
Coco Ledgar and Remy Hoffmann will also return to the Kees’ defensive line-up this season.
O’connor said preparations were progressing well in the lead-up to the start of the season on April 7.
“At this stage our focus is just on improving fitness and preparing ourselves for round one against Laharum,” she said.
“They are a really strong club and all of their senior teams will be a good challenge for us, so we are looking forward to seeing where we are at against them.”