Emma Blomelely - My Redan Story
What are your earliest memories of playing netball and some of the highlights of your junior career at Newlyn?
Mum started me with Netta netball when I was eight years old. I remember playing on the outdoor courts at Llanberis.
I won the best & fairest award in the U17’s at Newlyn and then Runner-Up in the seniors when I was 20. I coached the U13’s for a season.
Who or what was it that saw you come to play with Redan in 2005 and what were your first impressions of the club?
I went to secondary school with Ash Barker and Ricky Cummins so they were my initial connections and then had some uni classes with Adrian King. Through those connections I met other people from the club, they knew my brother Nath was a gun player at Newlyn and started chasing him to play.
The year after I finished Uni, I moved to London to teach and Nath started playing that year, so naturally I came to Redan a year later when I came back from overseas.
How long did it take you to establish yourself in the A Grade side and where have you played most of your netball during your time with the club?
I’ve changed teams so many times throughout my time at Redan it’s hard to remember if I started in the Reserves or Seniors! We had a fairly high turnover of players at the club in the early years so it just depended on the caliber of players year to year as to which team I was placed in after try-outs. I was always happy just to be on the court so I didn’t mind being in the ressies if it meant less time on the bench!
What do you see as your strengths as a player and how naturally did the Captaincy come to you?
I always give 100% when I’m on the court and even though I’m not a tall defender I’ve always been naturally athletic so have a good leap and high speed.
I’ve always been a leader, (some may say bossy) so being captain came very naturally. I always tried lead by example on (and off) the court.
Who have been the top five players you have played alongside and who have been some of your toughest opponents?
There have been so many over the years. As far as fellow defenders go (and in no particular order):
Esse Cahir (I would say we were a pretty awesome combo)
Courtney Mclean (we always had a good tussle on the court, physically and verbally!)
Tell us about the coaches you have played under at Redan and what you felt were their individual strengths?
Again, there have been a lot and all quite different. All were very dedicated (as coaches are) and all had great technical knowledge of the game.
Trudy Hawker – People person, always managed the group well and gave great direction.
Julie Burke – Very knowledgeable, I learnt a lot from her drills. Used to get really fired up on game day!
Kirsty O’Rourke – Playing coach who always led by example on the court. We were always super fit playing under Romsey.
Kate McMahon – my biggest netball influence. Kate’s ability to develop players into great players is amazing. I learnt so much from her and will forever share that special bond of Premiership Coach/Captain.
Tell us about some of your coaching roles over the years and what have you enjoyed most about it?
When C-Grade was first introduced in the league, I took on the job at Redan. We lost the prelim final that year and then went on to win back-to-back and then lost the GF the following year. Also, the year I ruptured my ACL I ended up taking on the coaching job for the Ressies as we didn’t really have a coach that year. The girls lost the Grand Final that year.
The best thing about coaching is the relationships you form with the players and being able to ride the up’s and down’s with them throughout the season. Coaching premierships is unforgettable no matter what the level. You form a bond with your players that lasts forever.
Prior to the construction of the netball court at the City Oval, the netball side played its home games at Ballarat College. How much more of a home court advantage is there now and what were some of the other practical disadvantages of playing at a separate location?
It goes without saying that playing and training at a different location to the football made things really hard. We didn’t really do Thursday night dinners together and the footballers never really came to watch the netball games. The location of the courts now is fantastic. People can stand in between the courts and the footy ground and watch both games at the same time. Naturally, when you have more supporters you lift as a team on the court.
In saying that, there’s still a long way to go to get the change rooms happening which will make a huge difference in keeping the netballers around after games if they are cold and wet.
Take us through Redan’s 2011 home and away season, the dominance of Lake Wendouree and when you first felt Redan were a genuine chance to end their run of four straight premierships?
During the season we had a number of players unavailable a lot of the time. Cass Hobbs was playing both basketball and netball and Phoebe Knox was away on teaching rounds for a big part of the season. We managed to finish third but hadn’t beaten either of the teams above us (East & Lakers). In fact, the Lakers beat us by at least 20 goals in both home and away games and then in the semi-final. It was real mental challenge.
I don’t think we had much faith at all until we beat East in the Prelim and that changed all of our mindsets. We played with so much confidence in the GF and everyone played their part so well.
What are your memories of the Grand Final itself and the moments of celebration after the final whistle?
I just remember Kate telling me what I needed to do before she put me on at half time and that I needed to keep my cool and just shut Framey down. I don’t really remember much after that except the whistle blowing and we were all just jumping on each other!
What do you think was the key to that victory from a tactical perspective?
Before the East win, we were all literally lying around in the changerooms just relaxing and listening to music. We weren’t trying to get fired up, we were just trying to keep our cool. That seemed to work for us so we did a similar thing before the GF. Also Kate’s plan to try and shut Stace McCartin down was a winner.
Which players really took their game to the next level that season?
Knoxy is the standout there. She just cruised along all season and then when it came to GF day – she was amazing! But I think we all played the game of our lives that day. Everyone stepped it up that year and played their part.
Describe the feeling around the club that night with the football side also winning the premiership.
It was like nothing I’ve ever been part of, or will ever be part of again I’d say and I feel so privileged! There wasn’t a person who didn’t have a huge smile on their face, even the poor Ressies girls who had lost. The atmosphere during that whole weekend was just incredible. Everyone who played that day shares something really special. You could ask anyone and they would tell you it was one of the best weekends of their lives.
Sam Giblett in his recent interview spoke in glowing terms of the role the social side of the club and role that den sessions have played in bringing everyone closer together. What are some of your best memories off the court and some of the legendary sessions in the Den?
Yeah, Sam and I have both seen a lot go on in the den! Redan has been the envy of so many clubs over the years, not just because of our success but because of the amazing social culture. Having the off field/court connections we have had over the years has been as important as any training when it comes to game day success.
There are too many stories that I can’t tell, but I will say they consist of jukeboxes, cars, fires, budgies, rats, fire extinguishers, ferrets, beanbags and more. Let’s just say: “If the walls could talk…”
What have been some of your greatest highlights playing netball with Redan aside from the A Grade premiership?
The relationships I have formed over the years, the netball trips, the coaching and of course – the den sessions!
Your family has had a very strong connection with Redan for over a decade. Describe their various roles and was there a family connection to Redan before you all become involved?
Mum and Dad have always taken a keen interest in Nath and my sporting lives. They are the type of people who like to help and get involved where they can. They naturally got involved helping out when we started playing. Dad became President for many years amongst other roles, which he now still takes on. Mum has always helped in the kitchen and canteen and has been a taxi driver many times. They are very special people.
Do you share Kate McMahon’s view that the advent of the Women’s AFL will not be detrimental to netball participation levels?
Yes, I agree with her. It will only create more participation in sport for females in general.
Do you see the need for a player points system for netball as has been introduced with football in recent times?
No I don’t think so. At the end of the day - I think most girls/women will go and play with a club they have a connection with or to play with their mates anyway. I think the biggest problem clubs face going forward is being able to pay players. Some clubs struggle to pay their footballers, let alone netballers. And also, being able to secure good coaches. If you have a good coach, it helps to draw quality players also.
Take us through some of the roles you have had with the club over the years?
Aside from coaching I was on the board for probably 8 or 9 years. Most of that time I was the Director of Events and ran The Den. That included – creating/running functions, fundraising, booking out the den, staffing the den, keeping the fridge stocked.
I also took care of the merchandise for a few years.
What did it mean to be named a Life Member of the Redan Football Netball club?
An absolute honour, especially at a club like Redan who has had some amazing people involved over the years. It was so great to be recognized and the kind words that everyone spoke that night were really touching.
What are you up to these days and have we seen the last of you on court?
I’m currently living in Melbourne and about to take on a new challenge with work in the fashion industry down here. I’m still playing socially during the week and if I was still living in Ballarat I would absolutely be out on that court with the Redan girls every week. I’ll be playing netball until my body won’t let me anymore!
Do you see yourself coaching again?
Most likely not. But who knows, I may have kids of my own eventually and that might see me back involved with coaching one day.
What advice do you have for the junior girls starting out their netball careers with Redan?
As far as your netball goes – always just try your best on the court and don’t be too disheartened if you’re not in the team you want to be in or not on the court as much as you like. Just go out there and play hard when you do get the opportunities. That’s the best way to prove yourself. And ask questions – if you’re lacking in some area, find out how you can improve. Take on the feedback.
As you grow up – get involved where you can off the court as well. It’s so rewarding!
And stick with Redan – you won’t find a better club!