New Melbourne Vixens training partner Maddy Balson had to keep her selection secret for a month.
Naturally, keeping the news of her involvement with one of the premier netball teams in the country was tricky.
“It was a bit of a shock,” she said last week. “It was hard to contain it – I wanted to tell everyone.
“I’m looking forward to being pushed and to push them. I want to get the best out of myself.”
Balson was one of four training partnerships announced two weeks ago. It came after the Vixens liked the defender’s performances with the Victorian Fury in the Australian Netball League and with the City West Falcons in the Victorian Netball League.
At just 20, she is part of the next generation of defenders. While she would have liked to have been in one of the teams for the inaugural National Netball League, being a training partner is the next best thing – and she may get the chance to take to the court for the Vixens.
“Tall defenders take a lot longer to develop,” she said. “I had fingers crossed then I heard from the Vixens. If there’s an injury, I may get to be a permanent or temporary replacement player.”
Balson will juggle Vixens duty with playing and training with the Fury and Falcons.
Selection as a Vixens training partner meant repeat selection in the Fury team was assured. The team’s two key defenders from last season, Fiona Themann and Shannon Eagland, have NNL contracts for 2017.
“I was trying out for the Fury when I got the call up for the Vixens,” she said. “That automatically meant I was part of the Fury squad. I’ll be training with both teams at different times during the year.”
It will be Balson’s second year at the Falcons, who she hopes will go one step further than a grand final appearance. The Falcons have lost the past three grand finals.
“I played with Boroondara when we won the championship [in 2015] and then I thought it was time for a change of club and environment,” she said.
“City West Falcons have been a pretty successful club.
“The training environment and work ethic – it was hard work, but I wanted the challenge.”