Determination the key for netballers after staking 8th place in champs

Rhiannon Dennis training in Orange earlier this year. Photo: JUDE KEOGH.
Rhiannon Dennis training in Orange earlier this year. Photo: JUDE KEOGH.

Orange under-17s coach Mikayla Riley keeps coming back to determination when talking about her charges’ efforts at the Netball NSW Under 17s State Championships in Gosford. 

From determination to overcome the weather, to determination to keep going despite constant games back to back, to determination to pick themselves up and do one better when they falter, Riley is proud of the drive her girls are showing at the tournament. 

“That’s the challenge to find the intensity to keep going after each hit and keep fighting.”

Each side was slated to play 17 games over the three days, with an hour between start times leaving little time between games, which were 13-minute halves, to recover. 

With two games to go on Monday, Riley said batteries were nearly “running on empty”, but going well to dig deep and push through.

“We’re lucky to have a group of girls who are fit and determined and they just keep pushing through the fatigue,” she said. 

After seven wins and four losses over the first two games, including a huge win over Blacktown and pushing competition leaders Manly all the way to the final whistle, Orange picked up two early wins on Monday. 

They had a 22-19 win over Gosford and a 16-15 nail-biter against Cambelltown District before two losses – 12-19 to Newcastle and 23-10 to Illawarra – brought them back to earth. 

They then defeated Bankstown City and claimed a 19-12 win over Eastwood Ryde in their final game.

“They’ve been really happy with how they’ve gone but at the same time they’ve gone into some games with the expectation to do better than they did and they’ve been disappointed when they fall short,” Riley said. 

“They’re never giving up  and they fight for everything, and if they lose they shake it off, turn around and pick each other up … I’m really proud of them.”

They also achieved their pre-tournament goal of finishing in the top 10, ending the tournament in 8th position, which “really pleased” Riley. 

As bottom aged players, all but a handful of the girls will be able to return to the tournament in 2019, but if they will or not depends on the stresses of HSC.

“I hope they return, they’ll be determined to be back despite year 12, they’re a driven bunch of girls and netball is really important to them.”