TEN years ago Bendigo’s Caitlin Thwaites had the volleyball world at her feet.
Thwaites was representing her country in volleyball and had multiple schools in the United States ready to sign her on a college scholarship.
However, a funding cut to the volleyball program at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra changed Thwaites’ sporting pathway.
Thwaites decided to go down the netball path instead.
Volleyball’s loss was netball’s gain and on Sunday night 27-year-old Thwaites was part of Australia’s gold medal winning squad at the Commonwealth Games.
“Unfortunately for volleyball, Caitlin had a great passion for netball and she chose that line,’’ Thwaites’ former volleyball coach at the Bendigo Academy of Sport Gary Roberts said.
“When volleyball fell through at the AIS that probably made her decision a bit easier.
“It was a big loss for volleyball, but no surprise that she’s done so well at netball.
“She always had a great desire to succeed and do everything she could to improve herself.”
Roberts said Thwaites would have had a successful career in volleyball.
“Caitlin would have been in the Australian women’s open team,’’ Roberts said.
“Volleyball is an Olympic sport and you can play professionally through Europe... so it would have been a big decision for her to make to go down the netball path.”
Thwaites didn’t see any court time in Sunday night’s gold medal game against New Zealand, but her performances in the pool games showed she could easily slot into the starting goal shooting position.
She scored 19 goals from 23 attempts against Wales, 42 goals from 50 attempts against Barbados and 21 goals from 23 attempts in the win over Trinidad and Tobago.
After a short break, Thwaites will be back in action for the Diamonds in Test matches against New Zealand and England in October.
For Thwaites, the highlight of the four Test matches will be the clash with England at Bendigo Stadium on October 19.