INSPIRATIONAL, loyal, a great contributor off and on the court and a club legend.
These are just some of the words her South Bendigo club-mates use to describe Emma Tomlins.
The Bloods stalwart will play her 250th club game against Kangaroo Flat on Saturday.
Tomlins, who started playing at South Bendigo in 2004, is the club’s longest standing netballer and games record holder.
Despite devoting years of service to the club, Tomlins would have preferred for her milestone to have passed without much fuss or fanfare, but there was never any way her Bloods club-mates were going to allow that.
Tomlins, who has been a team-captain on five occasions, said she was enjoying her netball as much this season in the Bloods’ B-reserve team as she had at any time in her point of her career.
“I’m loving it; my bones pull up a bit sore, so I am ready to retire,” she said with a laugh.
“But the girls and the club – just the routine – keep you going back.
“You make life-long friends through it; and then you drag your sister-in-law along to play and make it a family day.”
Her splendid record of service includes eight seasons on the club’s committee and five years as the club’s netball secretary. Her only breaks from playing came while giving birth to children Hunter, 4, and Blake, 1.
She coached B-grade for three seasons from 2010-12 and B-reserve in 2012.
The only thing missing from her netball resume is premiership success.
Tomlins has come close before, making it to three grand finals, most recently in B-grade in 2016.
With her B-reserve team sitting on top of the ladder with an impressive 13-2 record, she hopes this might be the year for a break-through.
“I said to the girls in pre-season if they win a grand final they get rid of me finally,” she said.
“It’s motivated them so far; I’m not sure whether I like that or not.
“If we put our heads down like we did last weekend (a 49-40 win against Eaglehawk), there’s a possibility we can win it, without jinxing it.”
Hugely satisfying for Tomlins, who has contributed so much on and off the court to South Bendigo throughout the years, is the tremendous strides the club has taken in recent seasons.
She hailed the eventual full-time move to Harry Trott Oval and the recruitment last pre-season of astute multiple-premiership winning coach Jannelle Hobbs as decisions that would position the Bloods for sustained future success.
“Every time you come to training she (Jannelle) has something new to teach you,” she said.
“She’s made us step up a notch or two, especially A-grade. They’re coming up against Golden Square and winning.
“The bottom-ages at South have always been competitive, but she’s really recruited well and stepped up our senior girls.”
Meanwhile, a top-of-the-ladder clash highlights this weekend’s A-grade round.
Second-placed Eaglehawk hosts reigning premier Sandhurst, which won the teams’ earlier season contest in a thriller by three goals.
Golden Square will attempt to tighten its hold on fifth place against Strathfieldsaye, while South Bendigo is fighting to keep its fading finals hopes alive against Kangaroo Flat.