Although a lot has changed since the last playing appearance for Penola’s A Grade team, its goal of a Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Netball Association premiership has not changed.
Due to no KNTNA seniors action taking place in 2020, players moving away and having children mean the Eagles will field a different line-up to the 2019 preliminary final team.
However, Penola Netball Club president Karly Honner said everyone in the A Grade setup hoped to achieve the holy grail. “It is still a strong team and there is strength all the way across the court,” she said. “So at a minimum we are aiming for finals and definitely looking at a grand final.” Kaitlin Egan (pictured) will coach the top side once again, but will not perform her duties until later in the season due to recently having a child.
In Egan’s absence, the side will be overseen by assistant coach Sharon Adams. The club must find replacements for the likes of Sarah Lock, Emily Winter and previous KNTNA team of the year defender Brooke Klemm who will not return to McCorquindale Park.
But there will be some special talent arriving in their respective places. Former state league Garville player Jordyn Adams brings an abundance of skills to the defence and Honner believes she is one of the most talented netballers ever seen at the club.
Adams’ younger sister Siobhan (16) also provides some depth in the centre court alongside Penola veteran Sally Skeer. Recruits Maddy Teakle and Jade Lythgo from West Gambier and Kalangadoo respectively also make the finishing touches to a formidable defensive unit.
April Possingham hopes to build on a strong season as goal shooter in 2019 and will score with junior Georgia Winter under the ring. The new team began pre-season in late January and has trained twice a week, while also completing a couple of trial games.
After the frustration of 2020 and such a big build up, Honner said every player was itching to play. “Everyone is just really excited to put 18 months’ worth of practice into an actual game,” she said. “There was a lot if disappoint among the seniors they did not get to play (last year), so everyone is raring to go.”
The A Reserve team is led by Ashley Earl, while the respective B and C Grade sides are coached by Kim Wilson and Tammie Berkin. The junior teams managed to enjoy some competitive action last year and Honner herself will mentor the Division 1 outfit.
Tara Millard takes control of the Under 15’s, while the three 13 and Under teams are coached by Skeer, Indi Venables, Elise Berkin, Kate Braun and Kate Palm. The Eagles enjoy a home-ground advantage to open the season this Saturday against Bordertown.
The last time Penola and Bordertown met was the 2019 A Grade semi-final and the former emerged victorious, but Honner is prepared for the first of many fights this year. “There is not really a weak team in the KNTNA,” she said. “It is a bit tricky to know what anyone’s team is like, but Bordertown has always had some strong key players and I expect them to return.
“We have always been evenly matched and had their measure over the last few years, so it should be a good game.”