IT’S Generation Next at Yarrawonga.
While the established stars remain, this year has seen the introduction of six new faces, mostly teenagers, to an A-grade side that has been part of O and M grand final day for the past seven years.
Georgia Ryan, turned 18 on Monday and got her P-plates yesterday.
She played centre at Numurkah last year but had her sights set on a start at the Pigeons, re-uniting with friend and now fellow A-grader Jedda Nolan.
For most of the year she has travelled the 40 minutes home from year 12 studies at Nathalia before shuttling the 1½-hour road trip from Strathmerton to Lake Mulwala each Tuesday and Thursday night.
“I always admired the way they play their netball and decided this was the year to come and try-out, but I never dreamed of playing A-grade,” Ryan said.
“I’ve always played centre but I have found a permanent spot in wing defence at Yarra.
“The netball itself is much more physical, the players smarter — they know what they are doing.
“But the girls at the club have been so encouraging — they are just great people.”
The rookies have already become part of the family that includes two sets of sisters, while Kaitlyn Cummins is shooting for her fifth flag in a row.
Abbey Jones, 15, is the youngest of the squad and another first-year A-grader admitting to a few nerves ahead of Sunday.
Two years ago she was playing at Tungamah and, after a debut year in the Pigeons’ under-16s, was expecting to play there again this year.
“They asked me before the teams were selected whether I would be interested in playing A grade, of course I said yes,” she said.
“I started on the bench as a wing attack but about round six switched to goal attack and have been there ever since.
“Bridget (Cassar) has been great — I’ve improved so much by listening to her, watching how she plays.
“The netball is so fast, it is just great to be a part of it.”