WHEN most teenagers were tucked up in bed, Emmanuel College’s intermediate netball team was at school training.
A series of 7.30am training sessions each Wednesday for six weeks before class might have seemed tough at the time, but the hard work was rewarded with victory in the School Sport Victoria netball championship in Melbourne on Monday.
Captain Darcy Wilson, 15, said she and her teammates had enjoyed the early morning sessions, made sweeter by the eight-goal win against Wonthaggi Secondary College.
“Because we are all really busy, we needed to find a time that worked,” she said.
“It really helped.
“Most of us have played with each other in Hampden league rep teams and school teams. We are all good friends and being such good friends made it easier.”
The team included Darcy, Nell Mitchell, Bridget Smith, Olivia Niddrie and Mahni Wright, who are all teammates at South Warrnambool, plus North Warrnambool Eagles’ Sophie Chow, Maddy Drew and Kate O’Meara and Warrnambool duo Ruby Farley-Steere and Chelsea Baxter.
Darcy said the team members had been encouraged by coach Stephanie Mahony to believe they had the talent to progress through the gruelling day of competition, which included three round-robin matches, a semi-final and the grand final.
“Miss Mahony kept telling us we had a really good chance,” Darcy said.
“The first game we won by a lot and we thought ‘yeah, we do have a shot’.”
But she said the physicality of some rivals had surprised the team.
With a versatile line-up, Mahony was able to swing changes to cover dangerous match-ups.
Darcy said Emmanuel was behind by three goals at half-time of the grand final, which was made up of four seven-minute quarters, but it edged ahead by one at three-quarter-time.
“We had momentum,” she said.
As the lead stretched, she said her teammates stuck to the coach’s game plan.
“We had to keep possession,” she said.
Mahony said the students deserved their success, with defensive pressure across the court a key.
“The girls played at high intensity all day with a can-do attitude,” she said.
“They never gave up and kept fighting.”
The year 9 and 10 girls are all members of Emmanuel’s netball academy and the western zone academy.