PAULA Cary hadn't expected to see Ovens and Murray netballers inducted into the league's Hall of Fame as early as they have in recent years – much less be inducted herself.
But seeing was believing for the league stalwart and North Albury icon when she was revealed as the first inductee for 2017 on Tuesday morning.
Remaining inductees will be revealed on July 5, but it was Cary who enjoyed the spotlight as the third female inductee, behind Tracy Gillies in 2016 and Lindy Burgess in 2015.
“I'm a bit overwhelmed honestly,” Cary said.
“You do all this netball stuff because you love it, you don’t get into it for accolades.”
Having already been inducted into the North Albury Hall of Fame, Cary said it was hard to split being recognised by the league she'd devoted countless hours to and the club she has become synonymous with.
“I suppose (the O&M Hall of Fame) is a higher level, but we've only had the North Albury Hall of Fame for two years,” she said.
“To be inducted into that after only a couple of years was a surprise.
“I thought you'd have to have won a best and fairest or something to get into the Ovens and Murray's.
“I'd probably put them on the same level because I'm a passionate North Albury person, but I’ve been a passionate Ovens and Murray supporter for 25 years now as well.”
Cary won two premierships with the Hoppers as a player, both with her daughter Ashton alongside her on the court.
She also made significant off-court contributions to the league as a whole, serving as president of the netball league after taking over from Toni Wilson in 2002.
Cary was also the vice-president for three years.
“Winning a couple of premierships was quite exciting,” she said.
“We'd been bridesmaids for a few years in a row – to finally get one was amazing.”
Ovens and Murray board chairman Graeme Patterson said the league would not be what it is today without Cary's contributions.
“Paula has been an unbelievable servant not only to North Albury, but also at league level,” he said.
“She has been involved for the whole journey, since the inception of the netball competition.
“There have been a number of people who have been involved in the competition for much of its 25-year history, but her combination of being involved from administrative point, as a player and as a coach is quite rare.
“She's made a significant contribution to the standard of the league and the way it's structured.
“She's certainly been a big contributor to its success, we're blessed to have people like Paula involved in the competition.”