KRISTIE Bolden started the Warrnambool and District league season hoping her left knee would stand up to the rigours of the sport.
Eighteen rounds have passed and her focus has shifted — to helping Dennington capitalise on a major chance to claim its maiden A grade netball premiership.
The 23-year-old defender has made a successful return to the court this season after spending two years recovering from a knee reconstruction.
She will play in today’s qualifying final against Panmure but knows her campaign could have been much different had her knee not held up.
“We did a lot of pre-season work, that helped. That was building my confidence back up,” Bolden said yesterday.
“By the first round I was still a little bit apprehensive. But as the season went on (the knee) became better.”
Bolden remembers the fateful night when she sustained the injury.
She was playing for Warrnambool and District in a Western Regional State League match at Warrnambool Stadium in early 2012.
“I heard (the ligament) snap. I went back on the court and thought ‘this is fine, there’s nothing wrong with me’,” she said.
“But soon after I couldn’t run or jump and realised ‘this isn’t good’. I got an MRI and was told it was completely gone.”
Season 2012 was a write-off, while Bolden was still not ready to play in 2013. But her form this season has vindicated her patience.
The Dogs are likewise glad to have her back. Her presence in defence frees up Lani Keane to play in attack, with other flow-on effects.
But rewind half a decade and Bolden was an enterprising shooter making her mark at junior level. She won the 15 and under best and fairest award in 2006 with a whopping 41 votes, 12 months after finishing runner-up as a bottom-age player.
Her transformation from shooter to defender happened almost overnight about five years ago.
“It was literally one week. My auntie put me in defence and said ‘I’ll try you in this position one week’. From then on I really loved it,” she said.
“It’s obviously a little bit harder, you get one out of 10 as a defender, but I really enjoy it. I’ve stayed there ever since.”
Bolden, the daughter of former Dogs coach Josie Bolden, said she was looking forward to taking on the Bulldogs at Allansford.