NETBALL pre-season will carry extra significance in 2018 for Claudia Powell.
It will be the 21-year-old’s first as an A-grade coach.
The class defender has joined Loddon Valley league club Bridgewater after a productive stint at Strathfieldsaye in the BFNL.
Powell takes charge for the first time this Thursday at the Mean Machine’s opening tryout for the 2018 LVFNL season.
She can barely wait to hit the courts, with her appointment fulfilling a long-held ambition.
“I’ve always wanted to coach,” Powell said.
“Strath was a really good club; I did a lot there and they did a lot for me, but I was ready to get into coaching.
“It’s my first senior coaching role. It will be a huge learning curve, but I think I’m ready for it and I’m sure everyone at Bridgewater will be super supportive.
“It didn’t take much convincing to take on the job.”
Powell is not without coaching experience having led Strathfieldsaye junior teams in the Bendigo Strathdale Netball Association competition at Flora Hill.
She spent four years as a player at the Storm and credits former coaches Mali Roberts (now at Eaglehawk) and Melissa Ryan as strong influences.
“I have had really great coaches and hopefully I can bring everything they have taught me into helping other people,” she said.
“I want to get the best of everyone at Bridgewater and have some success.”
She is the second former Storm player to accept a coaching job in the LVFNL in as many seasons, after Cara Bastian joined Bears Lagoon-Serpentine in 2016 and led the Bears to their best finish in several years.
Coaching aside, Bridgewater is gaining a quality player with a proven track record of being able to mix it with the region’s best netballers.
Powell won the Storm’s best and fairest last season and finished top 10 in the league best and fairest count won by Sandhurst’s Heather Oliver.
She will guide a Mean Machine side which has finished fourth after the previous two regular seasons but lost elimination finals to Maiden Gully YCW (2016) and Calivil United (2017).
The highlight of their 11-5 season in 2017 was undoubtedly an early season victory against eventual premiers Pyramid Hill at Mitchell Park.
Powell, who played her junior netball at Manangatang, confirmed Bridgewater’s 2017 coach and good friend Meg Allen would remain with the club as a player.
“Meg and I actually grew up in the same area and played a lot of junior netball together,” she said
The Mean Machine have scheduled three tryout dates on January 18, 23 and 25.
Juniors start at 5.15pm followed by seniors at 6.15pm.
In other Bridgewater coaching appointments, Kym Childs will again be at the helm of B-grade following last year’s premiership season and Therese O’Toole returns to coaching after a few years off to lead C-reserve.
The Mean Machine will be chasing back-to-back flags in B-grade and four in a row in C-grade.
In junior grades, Bree Wickham and 2017 B-grade premiership player Carly Scholars will lead the 17-and-under side, and Jayne Lawson, who is in her second season at the club, and Jodie Turnbull will coach the 15-and-under.
The Mean Machine are still looking for coaches for their C-grade and minis teams and minis players.
Anyone interested should contact Lisa Langley on 0429 352 227.
Confirmed Loddon Valley A-grade coaching appointments for this season are Cara Bastian (Bears Lagoon-Serpentine); Lizzie Wiggins (Inglewood); Benita Swatton (Maiden Gully YCW); Linda Bickerdike (Marong); Jenny Clohesy and Kylie Piercy (Mitiamo); Rachel Pettifer (Newbridge); and Zoe Kennedy (Pyramid Hill).
An announcement on Calivil United’s coaching position is expected soon.
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