JAYDEN Cowling has never been one to back down from a challenge.
Kangaroo Flat’s new A-grade netball coach himself acknowledges he has big shoes to fill, following a solid run of success under former leader Jannelle Hobbs.
Cowling sees no reason to make drastic changes, but is focused on bolstering the club’s playing stocks and hopefully leading the Roos back to premiership glory.
“Obviously Jannelle has done such an amazing job with the girls during the six years she was at the Flat, so it’s massive shoes to fill,” he said.
“If I haven’t already, in the next few weeks I’ll be contacting all the girls to see what their intentions are for next year.
“I know plenty of clubs are already starting to chase players, so I guess getting everyone back from last season is my main focus, and then we will look at what went wrong and why we didn’t finish in that grand final this season.”
Cowling inherits an A-grade team that has won premierships in two of the past four BFNL seasons under former coach Hobbs.
The Roos have also enjoyed plenty of grand final joy in that period in the lower grades.
Cowling has been a major contributor to that success, leading the B-grade team to a premiership in 2016 and A-reserve to a flag in 2017.
He continues to combine coaching with playing and umpiring.
His playing resume includes appearances with the Australian under-23 team in 2016 and national under-20s in 2013-15.
Evidence of his ability to embrace a challenge, Cowling – as a teenager – once petitioned the BFNL to be able to play in the Saturday competition.
His bid sparked a media frenzy and a groundswell of support from supporters in Bendigo and beyond.
Six years on he is continuing to break ground as the Roos’ first make A-grade coach.
Cowling’s appointment caps a big few days for the 21-year-old and his family.
His sister Lauren Bowles, who won a BFNL league best and fairest and multiple premierships with Kangaroo Flat, was last week named coach of Heathcote District league club White Hills.
Cowling revealed the two appointments had led to more than a little bit of banter between the siblings.
“We’ve been saying to each other, ‘don’t you dare steal of any of my players and I won’t steal any of yours’,” he said.
“But it’s all fine – I obviously tried netball because of my sister, so it’s very exciting for us both to get head coaching gigs.”
Cowling credited Hobbs, who has been appointed director of coaching and A-grade coach at South Bendigo, as another great influence on his blossoming coaching career.
“It’s going to be weird coaching against Jannelle, she’s been amazing the last few years,” he said.
“Her mentoring and experience have helped me so much, but I’ll obviously carry that on next year.”
Meanwhile, Kangaroo Flat has reappointed gun A-grade centre and BFNL representative Chelsea Sartori as 17-and-under coach.
Sartori, who was the BFNL’s rising star award winner in 2014 and a dual premiership player in 2014 and ’16, led the Joeys to a second-placed finish at the end of the home and away season in her first year at the helm.
Applications are being sought for coaches in A-reserve, B-grade, B-reserve and development.
For inquiries contact netball operations manager Cath Wicks on 0408 577 629.