ASHLEY Gilmore can barely believe her luck when it comes to her dream introduction to netball.
White Hills' powerful goal shooter will be lining up in her second HDFNL grand final in just her second season of netball, when the Demons clash with Colbinabbin in this Saturday's premiership decider at Huntly.
And as was the case last September, when the Hillies prevailed in a thriller by two goals, expect Gilmore and her goaling partner Rhian Moresi to have a massive say in the outcome.
The former Bendigo Braves and Western Australian state league basketballer will be looking to cap a stellar season on the netball court.
Gilmore finished equal third in the HDFNL's Esther Cheatley Medal count, won by her Demons team-mate Anna-Grace Close.
She continued her strong form into the Demons' 13-goal semi-final win over the Grasshoppers, but now has her sights on helping her team achieve back-to-back flags.
"It's been very exciting, my first two seasons of netball have produced pretty high expectations, going straight into a second grand final," she said.
"Last year's was very close, but ultimately a success - hopefully we can get the same result."
Gilmore, who won a trio of championships with the Braves on the basketball court - the first in 2003 - described her move into netball as something that 'took little convincing' when the opportunity presented.
"I had literally just had a baby (Lachy) in January and we were relocating back to Bendigo from Perth and it was something I wanted to try and get into to reconnect with Bendigo," she said.
"I have always loved sport and that side of things, so it was pretty easy to do.
"I have been back and forth to WA for 10 years, so it was good to come into a club, where the culture was great. It's a real family club - the perfect fit actually.
"With three kids it's pretty hard with training being the age they are and my hubby (Terran) still works over in Broome, but the club have made it so easy for me. They are so supportive."
Gilmore said the thought of joining White Hills was first broached in discussions with her former junior Braves team-mate Dannielle Sawyer, a 350-gamer with the Demons, whose family is firmly entrenched in the club.
Her next discussion was with senior coach Lauren Bowles - the rest they say is history.
Gilmore missed the first couple of games of the 2018 season, but quickly stepped into the A-grade line-up and has not missed a beat since.
The sharpshooter is the first to admit the transition to netball was a steep learning curve
"I've always loved the idea of playing netball, but basketball has been my life since I've been young," she said.
"Being with the Lady Braves, we were never allowed to play netball in case we did ankles and knees - and we didn't have the time with training and travel.
"I don't know netball that well to be talking about netball too much.
"I've picked up quite a bit, but there are still some rules I struggle with. Loz and the girls do laugh sometimes at the questions I ask about the game."
To that end, Gilmore has found the perfect ally in goals and an excellent sounding board in goal attack Moresi.
"We have had some amazing chemistry Rhi and I," she said.
"She has been fantastic for me. I will go to her for a lot of advice."
(White Hills) is a real family club - the perfect fit actually.Ashley Gilmore
Gilmore believed 'an attacking and aggressive' brand of netball was the key for White Hills on Saturday, similar to that which reaped plenty of success against Colbinabbin in the semi-final at Heathcote a fortnight ago.
"We have got some real quality through the middle, and Aggie (Close), Dan Sawyer and Bronte (Deary) do an amazing job in the backline," she said.
"It's probably simple, but we just need to do things we've been doing all year.
"We play a nice, aggressive, fast-paced game. If we play with confidence, hopefully we can get another win."
A mother of three, Gilmore will have plenty of support on the sidelines on Saturday, through son Blake, 5, daughter Evie, 4, and Lachy, 19 months.
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