Schooling Bendigo’s young netballers

NVW2014_SMPost-CoachingBeing a coach in any sport requires tremendous dedication as it takes up an enormous amount of personal time.

Be it at junior or senior level, a club or representative team, netball coaches play an important role in not just the sporting lives but the everyday lives of their athletes.

Bendigo school teacher Carmel Hamilton has been responsible for coordinating netball teams at Girton Grammar in the central Victorian city for a number of years.

Girton Grammar has a senior and junior campus with around 1200 students; the school has a number of teams that play in the Golden City Netball Association on Saturday and during the week in the Bendigo Strathdale Netball Association.

“There’s a range of activities to do in the school but netball is one of the bigger clubs,” Hamilton said.

“In term one we hold selection trials and initially pick our Saturday teams. We then hold further trials for girls who wish to represent their school.

“Bendigo is a pretty big netball town.”

Girton is a regular competitor at the Victorian Schools Championships and also enter a boys’ team.

“We put them all on the bus and send them down for the day,” Hamilton said. “Some of our boys’ teams have been wonderful.”

Hamilton tries to rotate students from different year levels through their mid-week team to give them the experience of lining up against older opponents.

“They’re playing against women a lot of the time and that’s to challenge the girls. But we’re also about improving their skills so they can play the best netball that they can,” she said.

Students and staff members are also involved in coaching the school’s Saturday representative sides and Hamilton highlighted the coordinating efforts of people like Belinda Moore and Holly Speed.

Hamilton said coaching has been a great way for to stay involved with netball, which has been a big part of her life since she started playing at the age “of about seven or eight” in the Victorian town of Rochester.

“I love sharing the fun times that I’ve had with netball and I try and help anyone be as good as they can be,” she said.

“Not everyone can get to that next level but if you can help someone out and they say thank you for what you’ve done, that’s the satisfaction that you get.”

Australia Diamonds and the Malawi QueensGame 2One of Girton Grammar’s notable graduates is current Australian Diamonds shooter Caitlin Thwaites, who Hamilton said played in the school’s top side when she was a Year 10 student back in 2002.

“She was easily one of the better netballers,” Hamilton said of Thwaites. “If a player is good then I’ll put them up (a level) if they’re happy to do that. It provides them with a challenge.”

Thwaites has gone onto forge a successful netball career in Australia’s national league and the ANZ Championship as well as representing the Australian Diamonds.

“Caitlin has always been terrific. If we’ve taken girls (down to Melbourne) she’ll come over and talk to them so it’s rewarding to know that she went to Girton and is someone that girls can look up to and aspire to follow.”

Away from the school, Hamilton has supported her children in their sporting interests. Daughters Lily, Ellen and Grace all played netball while son Conor plays in the Bendigo Junior Football League.

Next year Sydney will host the Netball World Cup, the first time it’s been played in Australia in more than 20 years. If you are interested in volunteering for a role, visit to register your details.