Former West Coast Fever and Melbourne Vixens player Olivia Lewis (Pictures: Suncorp Super Netball, Design by Madeline Irwin)

Playing her fifth Suncorp Super Netball season, Melbourne Vixens defender Olivia Lewis is eager to elevate her game. Stepping out of the ‘impact player’ role, she hopes to truly breakthrough on the national stage this season.

Starting her national league career in the green and black of her native state’s team, Olivia Lewis debuted for the West Coast Fever in 2019. Playing 27 games for the Fever in her first three seasons in the league, Lewis moved to the Melbourne Vixens ahead of last season.

Already this season Lewis has seen more minutes on court due to the injury sustained by goal defence Jo Weston. She used this opportunity to continue to step out of the ‘impact player’ role and into a bigger playing capacity. This was typified by her performance in the Round One game against her former team.

Olivia Lewis spoke exclusively to The Inner Sanctum about being given the starting role in Weston’s absence and how the move to the Vixens has paid off for her.

“It’s an exciting opportunity,” Lewis told The Inner Sanctum.

“I feel like it’s my fifth SSN season now so I’m kind of trying to step out of that rookie [or] impact player role and try and assert myself in the competition as someone who can take a game and show that I can play more minutes.

“It felt good to get out there and just do my bit for the team.”

Being a part of two of the more recently successful teams in the Fever and the Vixens, it was important to note what sets these clubs apart from more lowly sides in the competition. Lewis sheds some light on the Melbourne Vixens environment and how it brings out the best in its athletes.

“It’s all about the off-court stuff as well [as the on-court], at the end of the day you want to be playing good netball but that doesn’t just come with what’s done on the training court, it’s all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes as well,” she said.

“The support staff is massive with that and I’ve definitely found [that with] the Vixens’ partnership with the VIS (Victorian Institute of Sport) they are able to get quality staff from there like our [strength and conditioning coach] and our physio, our psych and all the high performance staff.

“Obviously Simone [McKinnis] and Di [Honey have contribute] as well, I feel like it’s so much more in the netball club than the players.

“At the end of the day you can have good players but if you don’t have that support behind you off the court then you are not going to be that successful and we are very lucky to have that at the Vixens.”

The Melbourne Vixens after winning the 2020 SSN Premiership (Picture: Suncorp Super Netball/Website)

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One of the best defenders in the world currently, Courtney Bruce was a mentor to Lewis while she was at the Fever. Lewis described what it was like to have an opportunity to learn from an Australian Diamond.

“Courtney [Bruce] I would say is the best [goal keeper] at the moment, [she has] that starting Diamonds position has been locked up for some time now,” Lewis said.

“Getting to play and train with her was great, I definitely learned a lot seeing the way that she goes about her business and she taught me a lot of the early professional high-performance behaviours.”

West Coast Fever captain Courtney Bruce (Picture: WestCoastFever/Twitter)

Reflecting back on the chance that Lewis took to head over to the join the Vixens, she’s happy with the decision she made. Moving from Perth, it was a challenging move made easier by the entire Vixens organisation.

“It was a really exciting opportunity to come over here at the end of 2021 and it definitely took me a bit of time to find my feet but in general it was completely different, completely different states [and] a different city,” she said.

“Melbourne is obviously a very different place to Perth but I feel like the Vixens made it as easy as possible and as seamless as possible.

“One of the values for the Vixens is family and I definitely feel like I was welcomed with open arms and very quickly became part of the family. [It’s been] over a year now that I’ve been here and I have found my feet, found my bearings a lot more and my connections within the Vixens have become stronger and it definitely feels a lot like home now so I’d definitely say it was worth the move.”

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Only just starting to realise her ability at domestic level, Lewis outlined the goals she has in a team-sense and individually.

“The big one is a [SSN] premiership, I’d love nothing more than to win a premiership with this group at the Vixens this year. We are all really tight-knit as a playing group so I’d love to win alongside those girls,” Lewis explained.

“Individually I’d love to play for the Diamonds one day. I kind of feel like that’s every netballer’s dream and I still kind of hold that close so I just want to keep developing my netball and keep feeling confident out there.”

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