ON the netball court, Steph Townsend is known for her strategic prowess.
But as a cricket mentor, the new Nirranda leader hopes to use her technical coaching credentials.
Townsend has become the first female to coach a Warrnambool and District Cricket Association men's side and will lead Nirranda's charges in partnership with Jakob Stennett and Jethro Serle.
Townsend, a six-year player at Victorian Premier Cricket powerhouse Melbourne, said the decision to shift her focus back to the south-west was exciting.
She said Serle, Stennett and president Dion Jansz had been "super supportive" and receptive to her ideas and philosophies.
"I was involved when we had a division one side about four or five years ago. I think I was actually the first female to play division one in the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association," she said.
"I've always had ties at the club. They're a fantastic club. Obviously coaching netball out there, I knew a few cricketers.This past year, I was thinking for my personal cricket endeavours that I'd better actually train. I couldn't train down in Melbourne which made it difficult and that reflected in performances."
Townsend started attending net sessions at Nirranda Recreation Reserve post-Christmas and rediscovered the bug for country cricket.
She helped lift professionalism and training standards on the request of Stennett and Serle in an informal capacity before the chance to take on a fixed role arose in the winter.
Townsend jumped at the chance but said the decision to leave Melbourne Cricket Club wasn't taken lightly.
She hoped to use learnings from Melbourne's elite batch of mentors to improve the Knights.
"They're a fantastic club full of quality coaches. Tegan Parker, who is a very dear friend of mine, was club coach this past year but her mentor was Karen Roulton, who was the Australian women's captain and a sensational bat for a very long time," Townsend said.
The opportunities that Melbourne gave not just me, but all the players were second to none and I'm really grateful.Steph Townsend
"The opportunities that Melbourne gave not just me, but all the players were second to none and I'm really grateful.
"The decision to not play down there was really tough but I've got my own business and trying to save for a house - a heap of factors went into the decision."
Townsend said the chance to develop another part of her coaching repertoire was a boon. "I'm not a very technical player myself, but I understand the technical side of it a lot," she laughed.
"I think the biggest thing is understanding players and what works for them and what doesn't.
"It might just be some little changes, it might be drastic changes in technical setup. I probably bring a lot of that to it and a lot of structure. I know both Jakob and Jethro are keen to have a lot more structure to training and game day and just enhance that professionalism."
But the first order of business? A netball premiership - and the first-placed Blues are in the box seat.
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