Spald­ing seeks re­turn to fi­nals

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Netball Countdown - BY SARAH SCULLY

Ade­sire to see Ararat net­ball re­turn to its pow­er­house sta­tus of the past is the driv­ing force be­hind Donna Spald­ing’s de­ci­sion to take on the A Grade coach­ing role. The Rats en­tered a re­build­ing stage two years ago to en­sure the club’s longevity, but have not played fi­nals since 2015, when they fin­ished fifth. Spald­ing – a club stal­wart who has played a role in years of suc­cess, most re­cently as a ju­nior coach – said yes to the call-up a few weeks ago. “I didn’t think I’d be back in this po­si­tion, but when I was ap­proached I had a good think about it,” she said. “When your heart is with the club you want to see it go­ing well. “To get some suc­cess back is my driv­ing force and I hope I can at least guide and sup­port them in their quest.” Spald­ing has taken over the reins from mid­court duo Jess Wil­liamson and Lau­ren Arm­strong, who will re­main at the club. She said pre-sea­son was go­ing

well, with plenty of num­bers on the track.

“We had 30-plus for tri­als for the three se­nior grades, which is a bit daunt­ing,” she said.

“Some have cho­sen not to play or have gone else­where, but I think we’ll still end up with a big C Grade squad. We needed it last year though, be­cause of in­juries.”

Spald­ing and B Grade coach Olivia West have each se­lected eight play­ers for A and B squads.

Spald­ing said ex­pe­ri­enced mid­courter Kate Bligh would step up from B Grade.

“Kate’s agreed to give me a few games in A Grade,” she said.

“She hasn’t played A Grade for a few years, but I’m ex­cited to have her back be­cause I coached her for a long time and I know what she’s ca­pa­ble of.

“I’m still in con­sul­ta­tion with Krys­tal Fisher. She’s a lovely de­fender but she’s also a young mum and lives in Bal­larat. Her hus­band is coach­ing the se­nior team but we’ll just have to wait and see.

“It’s hard enough to travel to play when you’re sin­gle, let alone when you have three kids.

“I think we’ve lost Alex An­to­nio, who is liv­ing in Mel­bourne to study. She’s a great kids coach and she starred in B Grade last year. I was hop­ing to give her a go in A Grade but I don’t think I’m go­ing to get her back. We’ve kept ev­ery­one else.”

Monique Scott, Tah­nee Walker, Tayla Bor­relli and Re­becca Skrabl will also start in the A Grade squad.

“Olivia and I will work to­gether and play­ers could shuf­fle teams. We’re hop­ing to set­tle our teams within the first few rounds,” Spald­ing said.

“I’m look­ing for a good mix of youth and ex­pe­ri­ence.

“A few years ago they got rid of the A Grade team and started from scratch, but you can’t af­ford to do that, be­cause if you don’t have ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers in key po­si­tions they’re not teach­ing the young ones com­ing through.

“I want to get back to our pol­icy of more than 30 years, of hav­ing a mix of both. Play­ers will not be dis­crim­i­nated against on the ba­sis of age. If they are the bet­ter player, they are in the team.”

Spald­ing said the Rats had an un­usual start to the sea­son.

They will play Stawell on Good Fri­day, March 31, and then have a break un­til a show­down with Hor­sham Saints on April 28.

“With a month off af­ter round one peo­ple aren’t re­ally ready to get started yet,” she said.

“We have a prac­tice match against Gor­don the week be­fore and round one will prob­a­bly feel a bit like a prac­tice match as well. “I’m play­ing it very low-key.” Spald­ing said de­spite A Grade fin­ish­ing sixth last year, the rest of the club’s net­ballers had a good sea­son.

B Grade and 15 and un­der A won premiershi­ps, with C Grade and the 17 and un­ders play­ing fi­nals.

Spald­ing said all grades would aim to qual­ify for fi­nals in 2018, par­tic­u­larly A Grade.

“I’ve been dev­as­tated the past two years, not mak­ing fi­nals. We need to make fi­nals again,” she said.

“I don’t take on a coach­ing role think­ing you don’t need to make fi­nals. Net­ballers give up a lot of time and ef­fort and we do it all for free. It’s a big sac­ri­fice and you put in a lot of work through­out the sea­son. Mak­ing fi­nals is your re­ward.”

Jess Wil­liamson

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.