Saint Kate to play 250th Hampden league game

KATE Foster knows she’s nearing the end of her A grade playing career.

Kate Foster, one of Koroit’s playing coaches, will notch up 250 games when her team meets Portland today.110910AM36    Picture: ANGELA MILNE

Kate Foster, one of Koroit’s playing coaches, will notch up 250 games when her team meets Portland today.110910AM36 Picture: ANGELA MILNE

But at 35 and with seven top-grade premierships to her name — five with Koroit and two at Golden Point — the Saints co-coach is content.

Foster is yet to make a firm decision on her playing future but admits it’s “highly likely I’ll be happy to play A1 next year”.

The mother of three, whose career started at Terang, will celebrate her 250th Hampden league A grade milestone against Portland today.

It is an achievement she’s proud of, having missed seasons to go to university in Ballarat, travel to the United Kingdom and have her three children — Tom, 6, Annabelle, 4, and William, 2.

Foster made her A grade debut for her junior club Terang and travelled back from university for two seasons before spending a two-year stint at Ballarat league club Golden Point.

It was her brother Nick O’Sullivan, a former Hampden interleague coach, and his wife Stacey who encouraged her to join Koroit for the 2001 season.

Foster’s been at Victoria Park ever since.

She’s played a key role in the Saints’ midcourt and as coach on a number of occasions.

The veteran mentor said the 250-game milestone, which culminates in Hampden league life membership, was significant. 

“It is pretty special,” she said. 

“I know it sounds cliche that you don’t think about it at all when you’re playing, you just love netball.

“But as your career goes on and you have interruptions with children and injuries you realise it doesn’t just happen.”

Foster played in the Saints’ 2001, ’04, ’07, ’10, and ’11 A grade flags.

She was based in England, where her sister Natalie has lived for the past nine years, and missed the 2003 triumph.

And she coached in 2009 when she was pregnant with Annabelle and watched from the sidelines in 2012 when she was pregnant with William.

Of her flag triumphs, 2001 stands out.

“It was Koroit’s first netball premiership and we were underdogs and we were up against Warrnambool who were successful and we were young,” Foster said.

“Watching in 2009 was OK because I was coach and although I was pregnant, I was heavily involved and I felt a part of it all.

“It was a hard thing in 2012 when the girls were playing but I had Kate Dobson by my side.

“It was a strange feeling on grand final morning, I was excited and nervous, but also (part of me) wanting to be out there too.”

Foster jumped back into A grade coaching this season, teaming with Dobson in a joint role.

They replaced fellow veteran Jacqui Bowman.

Foster said the Saints’ ability to rotate their senior players through the coaching ranks was one of their strengths as a club.

“We’ve always had strong leadership at Koroit — Stacey (O’Sullivan) coached for a couple of years, Jacqui coached and Kate coached,” she said.

“We thought it (co-coaching) this year was another way to contribute before the end of my career.”

Foster, who battles hamstring tendonitis, said she had fond memories from her time at both Terang and Koroit.

She played 60 A grade games at Terang before notching 190 and counting at the Saints, where her husband Andrew is still involved in football as a runner.

“At Terang as a junior I played goal defence actually and centre,” she said.

“As everyone grew, I didn’t.

“Both clubs are special in one sense because I grew up at Terang and got my first senior game at Terang and played seniors for three years.

“I have been at Koroit for a long time now and the friendships Andrew and I have made together at the club are important to us.

“It’s a great community out there. I feel very fortunate because Koroit has been so fantastic to us.”

Foster credited her parents Peter and Helen O’Sullivan for enabling her to carve out a distinguished career, saying they were always willing to help out with the children on game days.

Koroit defender Emily Batt shares a milestone with Foster today, belatedly celebrating her 150th A grade game.

Batt reached the milestone in round two but was unaware, sparking the club to honour it this weekend.

In other A grade games, third-placed North Warrnambool Eagles and fourth-placed South Warrnambool clash in a pre-finals tune-up, third-placed Hamilton Kangaroos meet lowly Warrnambool, and Camperdown and Terang Mortlake and Cobden and Port Fairy battle for pride.

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