Three years on from the Melbourne Vixens’ premiership win, Kate Eddy is ready for another taste of success.
Things are looking a lot different now than they did back then. The hindrance of coronavirus restrictions and its impacts seen in 2020 is absent almost three years on.
“It’s the first year that COVID hasn’t really impacted [us] so it’s been really nice,” Eddy told The Inner Sanctum.
“[The season’s] been good, I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Fast forward to 2023 and the Victorian local is flourishing weekly on the netball court. Perhaps more so now with the netballer acknowledging that compared to her current Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season campaign to 2020, things are looking a lot less unpredictable.
“Personally I didn’t know if I was going to play that grand finale because I had hurt my foot during the last round. Being able to be out there in the grand final was really special for me because I missed out on the year before, and I didn’t even know if I’d make it to play [in 2020],” she explained.
Eddy is having a strong season so far. Across the ten games she’s appeared in, she has 231.5 Nissan Net Points, 16 deflections and six intercepts to her name.
“I think the last couple of games I’ve started to play a little better and I think I’m playing how I’ve expected myself to play. [I’m] just making sure that I still grow because that just helps everyone around [me].”
With three games left in the SSN regular season, the Vixens will be aiming for a spot in the grand final once again. Their sights for finals are becoming increasingly clearer with the side seeing a shift in their gameplay.
“I think it’s been different from last year. We started really strong and I think we tried to hold onto a certain expectation the whole season. Whereas this season we’ve been growing every week and really building on the connections, changing up our game and being really adaptable,” Eddy admitted.
“Obviously we want to be finishing as high as possible, we want to be finishing on top of the ladder. So we just need to make sure that what we control is just our own game and I guess whatever happens with other teams, that kind of happens and is out of our control.”
Eddy explained that for the Vixens the intention was to “take every week week-by-week” and win as many games as possible. She hoped that it would ensure that the side “finish[es] in that top two position” which would give them the “best chance” to make the grand final.
The Vixens have recently celebrated a monumental milestone after Kate Moloney became the first in the club’s history to reach 150 SSN games. Only Romelda Atkin-George (Swifts) and Gabi Simpson (Firebirds) have been the other players to hit the impressive feat.
When asked about her teammate, Eddy was full of praise for the Vixens’ co-captain.
“Kate Moloney’s work ethic is like second to none. She’s like the heart and soul of the Vixens. She wears her heart on her sleeve,” Eddy shared with enthusiasm.
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Moloney has come a long way since she arrived at the club in 2013.
Since she earned her first contract with the team, Moloney has earned a number of accomplishments including two championships and is a two-time Sharelle McMahon medallist winner (2020 and 2021).
However, it’s not just her performance on the court that has seen the 30-year-old become an integral part of the Vixens fabric.
“You know that she’s always got your back. You know, chasing up loose balls not just on the court. But it’s something off the court too. Like if you’re upset or anything like that because of personal reasons, Kate is always someone to check in and make sure you’re doing okay,” Eddy said.
“She 100 per cent deserves this [milestone] on the court. She’s an amazing human being off the court as well and I don’t think that the Vixens would function as well without her.
“She definitely wears the Vixens dress with pride and I think she leads the way, sets an example for everybody else that comes into the environment. Everyone wants to be her [and] everyone wants to beat her.
“I don’t think that there’s anyone more deserving to reach that 150 games for the Melbourne Vixens. Yeah, she’s just incredible.”
Eddy confessed there are lots of fond memories of the co-captain, her most prized would be anytime she stands on the transverse line with her. When she’s in centre and Moloney is wing defence more specifically.
It’s a “special connection” according to Eddy, which continues to grow and develop week in, week out.
Although Eddy said there’s no one real specific moment that encapsulates her time with the accomplished co-captain. But her support, listening to her timeouts and pre-game pump-ups are included in the experience of having someone like Moloney on the team.
Eddy explained how the Vixens’ 2020 season illustrated just how important the co-captain is to the team.
“You know, she worked her butt off for that game just to achieve something for everyone else,” she said.
So too did Eddy, who said that the grand final will “forever be like the best day” of her life. It wasn’t just the uncertainties that stemmed from COVID restrictions that saw her road to the grand final difficult, Eddy’s foot concerns also poised the potential of her missing out on the grand final.
“That year was so tough for everyone and so many people had to make sacrifices. I think it was really hard to be able to be away from family, friends. No one got to be able to hang with friends and family that much you know, because we were all on restrictions,” she said.
“But it was so lovely to have the amount of support we did that year in 2020. You know, when we could just put a smile on people’s faces by winning a netball game and going out there and just trying to achieve success and achieve goals and things like that, I think that was pretty special as well for me.
“To be able to win and achieve that success that we did that year with such an amazing group of people who sacrificed so much to be away from friends and family and things like that, it was quite special and definitely was one of the best days of my life for sure.”
At 26, Eddy is at home in the team colours. The talented netballer said that she “always wanted to be a Vixen” as a young child.
“It represents so much personally. It represents hard work, sacrifice but as well it’s such an amazing club to be a part of. I think it’s the best club in the world and to be able to be a part of [the Melbourne Vixens] is really special,” she said.
“I have to pinch myself almost every day to think that I am a Melbourne Vixen. To be able to play with the girls I play with as well as be part of a club that has so many incredible people a part of it, I think it’s not just the players but the support staff and [everyone] involved that make it the best job in the world.
“It means a lot. It wasn’t easy to get here but you know, I wanna hold onto it with dear might and never let go of it.
“Just recognise that nothing’s ever easy and nothing is ever just handed to you.”
The biggest lesson that Eddy has learned so far is the importance of individual growth both personally as well as playing in the league.
In her first year playing for the Swifts, she explained that she never took the opportunities she got for granted. Even if she was only given “one minute or two” of court time, she felt “very fortunate” to play.
Eddy looks to her co-captain for the importance of personal development.
“For Kate Moloney to play 150 games, that’s 11 seasons that she’s had to grow, work and change. I think that’s why she’s so successful because she doesn’t just have a plan A. She’s got a plan A all the way through to the Z,” she shared.
“I think for me that is [a lesson], I’m just continuing to grow. Not just to have one gameplan, but being able to adapt, adjust and be really versatile. I think that’s really important because the game’s just changing so quickly. Every week I come against a different wing attack or there’s different combination in a team.
“It’s really important to have heaps of tools in your toolkit and not just be very one-dimensional. I think that’s just something that is really important every single year you play. You need to add little tools into your toolkit.”
When she isn’t centre stage on the netball court, Eddy is giving valuable insight to up-and-coming netballers through her work as an F45 trainer. For the Vixen, it’s something that is “special”.
Eddy, who is also into health and wellbeing, spoke fondly about her off-court work with the next generation of netball talent.
“We have young netballers and I coach a lot. [I’m] trying to give some of my knowledge and just give back to the netball community because I don’t think I’d be where I am without them,” she shared.
“I love going out, coaching young girls and being able to teach them some little tips and tricks. Share some insights on what it’s like to be a Vixen and what it’s like to be a netballer.”
The championship netballer was open when asked about her motivations to get through the tough times. She shared that the way for her to deal with the challenges faced as a professional athlete is to “set yourself goals” and “understand why” you do what you do.
“I absolutely love playing netball and that is my motivation. My passion for the sport and my teammates, that is the reason why I play and why I got to training,” Eddy said.
[Even] those tough sessions of running and the gym sessions that I don’t always love, I feel like that’s the reason why I’m motivated. I just love the sport and the game so much.
“I feel like through injuries it’s always having a reason, and obviously I love the sport. I want to be back there. So I think setting myself goals to try and achieve, that always allowed me to be able to feel kind of more happiness I guess to be able to tick off the small, little goal. Like rehab or anything like that.
“It’s really important to have goals and make ones that you actually want to achieve because I think you know, one day if I wake up and I’m not enjoying netball, I think that’s where my motivation will go as well.
“I think you can only be motivated for so many things you really want at the end of the day and I think understanding the why first is really important to be able to overcome challenges.”
Sitting fourth on the ladder with seven wins to their names, the 2020 premiers have finals in their sights. Despite a loss against the NSW Swifts, the Vixens will be hoping to topple the Firebirds, Magpies and Giants to round out their regular season campaign.
For the Vixens, Eddy reiterated that the team intends to finish the season “really strong”.
“[We want to] make sure that we are still growing and developing. I think we’ve had some tough games. We’ve lost a couple of games, we’ve won a couple of games by a goal. So I think learning and just creating that growth. Just trying to ramp up everything before finals because that’s really important to keep growing and keep developing,” she said.
“At the Vixens, we pride ourselves on basic skills like throwing, catching. So I think just making sure that we tick all the basics first before we do anything crazy.”
She further went on to explain that she also had a personal goal of ensuring that she is “playing [her] role within the team.
“At the Vixens we’re lucky to have a team where any single person can step on the court at any time. So I think just making sure that when I’m on the court, I’m performing and trying to play a shutdown role or trying to cover the front so that it opens up for Liz and Mannix at the back as well,” she said.
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