COBDEN'S netballers have made an art-form out of their premiership near misses.
Their end-of-season tongue-in-cheek celebrations are a reflection of their feelings.
When COVID-19 lockdowns forced the 2021 finals series to be cancelled when they were the Hampden league's dominant netball side, the Bombers dressed as though they were attending a funeral.
"RIP to season 2021", a cardboard tombstone read.
This year the Bombers fell to South Warrnambool in the decider and opted to go as bridesmaids to Mad Monday.
"The open team dressed as bridesmaids to play on the 'always the bridesmaid, never the bride' (adage)," Hinkley laughed.
"Hopefully one day we'll get to dress as brides. If you don't laugh, you'll cry."
Cobden is already plotting a way to make that a reality in 2023 and turn "inner drive into getting the job done".
"We want to make sure sometime in the near future we're able to get the club's first premiership," Hinkley said.
Hinkley said motivation was high - as in past seasons - but the players were seeking a competitive edge.
That's where a deeper focus on strength and conditioning comes into play.
"We have been doing a little bit of work with the Regional Institute of Sport that work out of Nick Hose's gym," she said.
"Stu Canavan and Matty Kemp, who is one of our footballers, (do that). We are trying to ramp up the work Stu does with our netballers, just to give us that edge with strength and conditioning.
"We did a testing night with him, just to give the girls a base-line of the foundations for their gym work."
Hinkley hopes the program will help the Bombers limit soft tissue injuries.
"It will up the preparation and professionalism," she said. "It will help us have that physical edge with our power, strength and speed."
The Bombers will run two trials in the lead-up to Christmas to determine their squads.
Hinkley will return to the court after giving birth to her second child in September while Jess Wheadon and Helene Foster are also back after pregnancy.
Jaymie Finch has returned to the club after a stint at Colac while former league best and fairest Amy Hammond will trial with both the Tigers and the Bombers before picking a playing destination.
"We have huge numbers interested in playing so we've actually had about 45 players register to trial for four teams," she said.
"That's put us in a position where we wanted to make sure we could let people know where they'd be playing so we can make arrangements for division three potentially, how we work that out if we have a surplus of numbers or allow people to trial elsewhere."
Hinkley said the club's strong netball program encouraged people to return to the fold.
"It is really exciting and there's awesome girls who have played and coached in our division three team who might have partners who are playing footy," she said.
"They are really involved and contribute to our club, whether it's umpiring or on our social committee and organising.
"We have awesome people who are willing to volunteer their time and I think that's probably the biggest thing in a country club, just having young people around to continue that on."
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