Bendigo netballer Ruby Barkmeyer is a step closer to a Suncorp Super Netball debut after being signed by the Melbourne Vixens.
Barkmeyer, who spent 2020 as a member of the Vixens training squad, has been signed by the Vixens as a potential goal shooting replacement for fellow Bendigo netball product Caitlin Thwaites, who retired after the club's grand final win last month.
After the COVID-19 pandemic restricted her ability to play this year, the signing came as a shock to the Kangaroo Flat 19-year-old.
"I didn't expect it, I was obviously just grateful to be a part of the squad next year, because I felt this year, I didn't really get the opportunity as much as I'd like to,'' Barkmeyer said.
"So next year will be a huge year and I'm very excited for it.
"I've been really lucky to have the chance to represent Victoria growing up from 12-and-unders right through to 19-and-under, so it's always a goal to be a Vixen when you're in that pathway.
"To finally get that goal which everyone works towards at Suncorp Super Netball level is very exciting, and I'm a bit shocked.
"But, the news at the end of this year is kind of a reward for my family and friends and everyone who has put a lot of work in for me over the years - getting me to training and things, so I can't wait to share it with them....eventually."
Barkmeyer didn't travel with the Vixens to the Queensland hub for the Super Netball season.
She stayed at home in Bendigo and put in some gruelling training sessions to improve her shooting and fitness.
"When the girls left around July, I went back to Bendigo and I was just training with my family...my dad has been my passer,'' Barkmeyer said.
"It was quite tough to get up and find the motivation to train when you're not exactly sure what you're training for.
"But, to know that I'll be part of the team next year, I guess all the hard work and interval running I've been doing will eventually be put into use when we can get out on court.
"I spoke to (coach) Simone (McKinnis) about what I can bring to the team and I think there's still lots of things to work on, but I do think I'm quite calm and composed out on court and, hopefully, I can bring that to the team and play well with the girls around me and build strong relationships with them on and off the court to help us be successful."
Later this month Barkmeyer will attend a training camp for the national 21-and-under squad before returning to pre-season training with the Vixens.
She'll be joined at the Vixens by former West Coast Fever goaler Kaylia Stanton, who is also a new signing to the club.
Barkmeyer, Stanton and grand final MVP Mwai Kumwenda will form the Vixens' new-look attack after the departure of Thwaites and Tegan Philip.
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