A PAIR of proud coaches have heaped praise on the winners of this season’s Bendigo Football Netball League’s Rising Star awards.
Marybourough on-baller Lachlan Bond and Golden Square midcourter Bree Heiden were announced as the winners on Monday night’s pre-Michelsen Medal count broadcast on Bendigo radio station Fresh FM 101.5.
Magpies coach Ben Lavars and Golden Square’s Kendyl Hopley said the respective award wins were richly deserved.
“For a 16-year-old kid to walk into senior footy and play the way he did is testament to why he won the award,” Lavars said of Bond.
“He started forward, played a bit down back and went to the wing, and then ended playing on-ball in the last five rounds.
“In that time we played Strathfieldsaye, Eaglehawk, Kyneton, Sandhurst and he certainly held his own against the best midfields in the competition.
“He’s got a great set of hands and really leads up hard and can take a great mark. In our side he was very important as that link-up player, moving from defence to attack.”
Lavars, who will continue with the Magpies next season, said as much he would love Bond in the side for 2019, he hoped the newly crowned Rising Star would spend more time at TAC Cup level with Bendigo Pioneers.
“I think for his development, it would be great to see him there and I’m certain he’s deserving of it,” he said.
Bulldogs coach Hopley described 17-year-old Heiden, who joined Golden Square from rival club Kangaroo Flat, as a real ‘quiet achiever’.
“She just gets on the court and does her job, takes on any feedback and really puts it into her game,” she said.
“She’s been an absolute delight to coach this season.
“Bree was keen to step into senior netball and we were excited to have her on-board.
“She adapted to A-grade extremely well and played some great netball.”
Hopley said Heiden had demonstrated her love for netball by choosing to play with Elmore’s 17-and under team in the Bulldogs’ bye rounds.
She was rewarded by being part of the Bloods’ HDFNL premiership team against Colbinabbin last Saturday.
Also revealed on Monday night were the winners of the reserves and under-18 football and A-reserve, B-grade, B-reserve and 17-and-under netball best and fairests.
South Bendigo’s Nathan Newlan claimed his third McCarthy Medal (reserves) – his previous two being won with Kangaroo Flat in 2015 and ’16, while Gisborne’s Baxter Slater won the George Symons Medal as under-18s best and fairest.
Netball winners were Gisborne’s Rylee Connell (A-reserve), Sandhurst’s Bri Giddings (B-grade), South Bendigo’s Maya Van Es (B-reserve) and Kangaroo Flat’s Ella Wicks (17-and-under).
The B-grade win was Giddings’ third league best and fairest following wins in B-grade in 2013 and A-reserve in 2009.
Wicks is the second member of her family to win the Sing Medal after sister Milly claimed the award in 2015.