ZENDA McConnell will add to arguably the most decorated career in the history of the Heathcote District Netball Association when she plays her 300th game for White Hills this weekend.
McConnell will reach the milestone either in Saturday's A-grade second semi-final against Lockington-Bamawm United or Sunday's A-reserve first semi-final against Colbinabbin.
In 18 years at White Hills, the mid-court dynamo has amassed an incredible roll call of achievements that is simply too long to list.
At the top of that list are 10 A-grade premierships – including eight-straight between 2000 and 2007 – and six HDNA A-grade best-and-fairest awards.
McConnell has also been best-on-court in a grand final twice, been awarded the best player medal for the HDNA’s inter-league team and won eight club best-and-fairests since joining the Hillies in 1996.
Until this season – when she returned mid-year after the arrival of her second child, Holly, a sister to her son Cooper – McConnell has played every match in A-grade.
Whichever grade McConnell plays her 300th in this weekend, it will be a special moment for her and the White Hills Football Netball Club.
“I guess I’ll feel pretty proud,” McConnell said. “I grew up in a sporting family from a little town called Nullawil, which is a very proud sporting town.
“I grew up going to footy and netball with my parents playing footy and netball, so it started young for me.
“I’m sure (my achievements are) nowhere near as far as what my mum and dad have done, but I’m certainly pretty proud because I moved here for work and I’ve stayed at White Hills.
“I’ve been very fortunate to play in a good era at the club and we’ve had a lot of good players there.”
McConnell’s achievements off the court contributed to her receiving White Hills life membership in 2005.
She’s held almost every position on the netball committee – including president – and has coached and umpired for the Hills.
The White Hills social scene was where McConnell met her husband, David, the current football president.
McConnell – also a HDNA life member and last year’s Sports Focus ‘Administrator of the Year’ credits family support for her longevity.
“No-one can play a lot of sport all their life if they don’t have a lot of support,” McConnell said.
“My husband, David, is president this year and he’s supportive of me playing, but I couldn’t play every week, realistically, without my parents and David’s parents helping out with the kids.”
McConnell is sure to have plenty of support this weekend and will start on the bench as White Hills and LBU do battle for a spot in the A-grade grand final at Prendergast Oval in Heathcote from 3pm on Saturday.
Mount Pleasant and Colbinabbin will fight to stay in the finals race in Sunday's first semi-final at Huntly.
In the Loddon Valley netball competition, Calivil United will take on reigning premiers Mitiamo in the preliminary final at Mitiamo from 2.30pm on Saturday.