BALLARAT netballer Emma Ryan will line up for Victoria in the under-21 national championships next March after impressing state selectors with a stunning season in the Ballarat district.
Ryan played her first game for UB Ballarat Pride’s championship squad in the Victorian Netball League this season and enjoyed a consistent year playing for East Point in the Ballarat Netball League.
Hailing from Edenhope near the South Australian border, Ryan has spent the past two years studying for a teaching degree in physical education at the University of Ballarat, and has already established herself as a prominent figure in Ballarat netball circles.
She has twice been named in the VNL’s 19-and-under all-star team in 2011 and 2012, and won the Central Highlands Netball League A grade best and fairest award with Buninyong last year.
Nevertheless, she was still surprised to receive a call asking to try out as one of Victoria’s top-30 under-21 players, and was reluctant to take part in the rigorous testing regime that ensued.
“Initially I didn’t really want to go, I thought it would be a waste of time — but then I started thinking about this season being my last one in the under-21 category, and I figured I might as well give it a crack,” Ryan said.
“I thought that I would maybe make the top 22 or first cut-off point, but I never expected to get picked for the final squad and it was a total shock when they told me I was a part of the Victorian squad.
“It will be tough (playing in the nationals), I usually play defence around the arch — in the goal defence and goal keeper positions, but I’m only about five-foot-10 (178 centimetres) and there are a few girls in the side who are over six-foot (183 centimetres) tall, so I’m expecting to play in some different positions next year.”
Three weeks of intense match play and advanced training drills, overseen by some of Victoria’s most respected netball coaches, saw the initial squad cut down to 22 players after the first week, into 15 the following week and finally into 12 at the conclusion of the program.
Ballarat Pride club administrator Jordan O’Keefe has seen Ryan’s development up close since she first took to the court with Pride as one of its 19-and-under players in 2011, and believes that she is the perfect role model for Ballarat’s younger players.
“She’s a testament for all things netball in our region and a great example for younger players in Ballarat of the pathways that can lead to bigger and better things,” O’Keefe said.
“For her age and where she’s at with her netball, making the 21-and-under Victorian team is probably the highest achievement that she can get out of herself.”