SINCE playing her first A-grade netball game for Pyramid Hill as a 14-year-old, Zoe Kennedy has made habit of stepping up when it’s mattered most.
In 2015, when the Bulldogs won their first LVFNL A-grade netball crown in eight-years, Kennedy was considered the most influential midcourter on either team in a thrilling two-goal grand final triumph against Calivil United.
A year later when the Bulldogs lost all but two of their previous year’s grand final line-up, it was Kennedy who remained to provide much-needed on-court leadership during a tough season.
And just two months ago, as the Bulldogs’ completed a remarkable renaissance, the class goaler was voted best on court in the Bulldogs’ seven-goal grand final triumph over Mitiamo.
Now, at just 20, Kennedy is stepping up again as Pyramid Hill’s new A-grade coach.
She replaces Deb Forster, who in her second stint as A-grade coach, led the Bulldogs for two seasons.
Kennedy said it was Forster, who gave her the encouragement needed to pursue the coaching job.
“I was looking for a new challenge, something different,” she said.
“I’ve always been interested in coaching and the opportunity arose.
“And obviously being from Pyramid Hill, I’ve always wanted to coach Pyramid.
“For Deb, I think doing A and B-grade was a lot of work and she was keen to cut back to one.”
Forster will continue coaching B-grade and will assist Kennedy with an A-grade bench role.
The new coach expects the Bulldogs to undergo a few changes in personnel from their grand final line-up, most notably star midcourter Gabby Kennedy, who has travel plans.
“We’ll do a bit of recruiting …. we also have a few girls in B-grade who have played A-grade before, so there is an opportunity for them to do that again,” she said.
“But at this stage we have a couple recruits.”
Reflecting on this year’s premiership success, Kennedy believed there were signs early in the season the Bulldogs could progress deep into the finals.
“I had a feeling from the beginning of the season that we could do it; I definitely believed in all the girls,” she said.
“It was a different feeling from 2015 as we weren’t as dominant, but the potential was always there.
“It was about coming together as a team, which did take us until the end of the year, but we did get there.”
No stranger to leadership roles at Pyramid Hill, the dual premiership star said she felt comfort in being able to balance the demands playing and coaching with those of her teaching studies in Melbourne.
“I guess 2016 proved a great opportunity for me to take on more of a leadership role,” she said.
“I was captain in 2015, but 2016 was different with a lot of girls coming up from B-grade and I felt I was one of the more senior players and that I had to lead from the front.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to do that again.”