Ballan came into the 2021 Central Highlands Netball League season with a brand new side and a first-year coach and the results proved the calibre of players it lost.
Lucy Gstrein stepped into the coaching role and was met with the task of fielding three teams after the entire 2019 A Grade roster did not return.
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A young, up-and-coming side was therefore presented by the Blues, leading to Ballan missing the finals for the first time in recent memory.
It had previously made the finals every year since 2014 and were bundled out in an elimination final in 2019.
Then coach Narelle Parkins left for Ballarat Football Netball League club Sebastopol, with key senior players also not returning for a host of different reasons.
It made for some tough losses throughout the season, however, a core group of young players gained valuable experience in the senior ranks.
Outgoing A Grade coach Gstrein told The Courier with the exodus of players, winning was not the main priority for Ballan.
"This season, personally, I went in with pretty low expectations, I knew that we weren't going to be as good as we had been in past seasons," she said.
"Just because I have had to build pretty much three senior sides from nothing, so I wasn't expecting us to come out and win the grand final.
"I'm still proud of my girls, they went out and they gave 100 per cent every single week that we played.
"Even when we were losing by a substantial amount, they still gave it their all every single week."
Incoming co-coaches Laura Parsons and Emily Lyle will take the reigns from Gstrein and adding some experienced campaigners to the young squad is a priority for the pair.
"I think a big part of why we've had such a hard year is we lost a lot of experienced players, we're a really young side," Lyle told The Courier.
"It's really great in terms of our fitness, but in a lot of aspects the really hard teams that we had to compete against this year had so much experience.
"I think a big thing for us will be trying to recruit more members that are going to lift the spirit of the club and give us that competitive edge to take on the higher teams."
Parsons added that the junior program and the development of its future stars will be pivotal for future success.
"Our juniors are going to be a huge part of that as well, we need to develop them now and in future years so that we are a strong club in five years time," she said.
0-10, 0 per cent games won, 30.57 traditional percentage
Round one: bye
Round two: defeated by Clunes 19 - 49
Round three: defeated by Learmonth 15 - 90
Round four: bye
Round five: defeated by Carngham-Linton 39 - 50
Round six: defeated by Waubra 27 - 59
Round nine: defeated by Springbank 19 - 63
Round 10: defeated by Newlyn 32 - 77
Round 11: defeated by Buninyong 6 - 83
Round 12: defeated by Gordon 20 - 57
Round 15: defeated by Hepburn 13 - 111
Round 17: defeated by Creswick 20 - 48
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