Published in The Sun-Herald on July 17, 2016
The ANZ Championship is in its final days, but as the Swifts prepare to face the Firebirds in Monday’s Australian conference final, Sydney’s rookies are revelling in the final moments and planning their next steps.
Amy Sommerville, 23, Lauren Moore, 18, and Kaitlyn Bryce, 21, are all rookies in this year’s competition, and they’re loving every minute.
“You still kind of pinch yourself and think, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m in the team’,” Sommerville said.
“It’s kind of something that you believe will never happen. I’m just taking in as much as I can. I’m really lucky.”
Sommerville has represented NSW since she was 19, but her rise to netball stardom was stopped in 2012 by a knee injury.
“I definitely thought it was going to jeopardise my career,” she said. “In a way, those were silly thoughts I had in my head.
“It took me a little bit longer than most people to get back, but here I am four years later with the Swifts. Now I have lots to look forward to, but lots of hard work to do as well.”
Moore, from the Central Coast, is the youngest member of the team. She was still in school last year when she got the call from Swifts coach Rob Wright to tell her she was in the squad.
“I was in class when I got the call, but of course I took it,” she said.
“I was in tears when I told my family. I don’t even think they could understand what I was saying, I was crying so much.”
Moore was a replacement player for the Swifts last year.
She said she is honoured to be given the opportunity of an elite career at such a young age, but she won’t let her youth hold her back.
“I think it’s a real pleasure to be picked up so young,” Moore said. “It’s not often that you get called in straight out of school.
“Rob [Wright] sees me as a Swift, so my work ethic has to be at the same standard of the other players. He has high expectations for me to take on board everything I’m learning.”
Moore has looked up to star defender Sharni Layton as her biggest inspiration since she was a kid.
“We’re in the same position and we have a lot of personal characteristics that are quite similar, too,” she said. “She’s a free spirit and, similar to Kim [Green], she doesn’t just talk, she goes and does it.”
Bryce, from Nowra, came up through the NSW under-age club system as well.
She says it has always been her dream to be part of the ANZ Championship, and to play in the competition’s final year is a thrill.
“I remember when I watched the first season of the ANZ Championship in 2008; I used to watch them all on the telly on repeat,” she said.
“To actually be a part of it is something that I’ve dreamt of for 10 years now. It’s been an amazing experience and I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Bryce said that once the competition finishes she plans to go back to university and study but, in the meantime, her head is well in the game.
Moore said, and the other players agree, that the Swifts’ biggest advantage going into the finals is their depth and versatility.
“We’re unpredictable to the other teams,” Moore said. “They’re never going to know what hit them!”
Australian conference final: NSW Swifts v QLD Firebirds at Brisbane Entertainment Centre, 7.18pm (doors open 6pm)
Tickets available from Ticketek.