Sunbury Lions’ Lauren Gilcrist joined rare company on Saturday when she stepped on the netball court in the Ballarat Netball League.
Gilcrist, who was in one of the Lions first netball teams, played game 350 at Clarke Oval.
It is believed only one or two other players in the league have reached the 350-game milestone.
For Gilcrist, who is playing her 22nd season, it was a special milestone and one she never imagined happening.
“Reaching 350 games is not something I ever set out to achieve, you don’t play for these types of reasons,” she said.
“However it’s good to step back and acknowledge such achievements every now and again.
“I am very proud of my loyalty, to have played them all at the one club, and my longevity –considering you normally only play about 18 games a season it’s a lot of years.”
Gilcrist started with the Lions as a 16-year-old in the reserves team when the club moved to the BNL.
Her aunt was treasurer at the time and her mum was later netball administrator for at least 10 years.
Gilcrist’s sister also played netball with the Lions for about 10 years.
“Having your family involved and [people]who grew to be my best friends … made it easy to turn up week after week, year after year,” Gilcrist said.
“You play for the competition, but you stay because of the people.”
Gilcrist, who has had two daughters in her time at the Lions, Taylah and Madi, joked she didn’t know what she would be doing if she didn’t play netball on a Saturday.
Both her daughters now also play.
“It is the best way to spend the day together and Taylah (12) and Madi (7) have grown up courtside,” she said.
“They’ve both told me I’m not allowed to stop playing until we can all play together.
“I remember hitting 200 games before having Madi and thinking that would probably do it … with the blink of an eye I have played another eight seasons.”
Gilcrist played in the A-grade side for most of her games, before stepping back down into B-grade in 2014.
In 2017 she stepped back up to A-grade and is part of one of the competition’s strongest sides.
She has enjoyed a recent run of success, being part of five premiership sides including coaching three B-grade premierships.
“After waiting so long for my first A grade premiership in 2013 I thought that would be it, but that started a ‘lucky streak’ for me and I was fortunate enough to play in premierships five years in a row.
“Each one is very special with the most recent in 2017 probably the most personally rewarding after returning to A grade and playing with a broken hand.”
Gilcrist hasn’t put an end date on her career.
“For me my netball is my ‘me’ time. It’s my social time, my exercise time and my switch off time.
“You can’t think of anything other than getting your hands on the ball for that one hour a week.
“If the body holds up and the ever-filling children’s schedules allow and I’m still getting a game … who knows?”