Kaylia Stanton hit the 50 game milestone in the 2021 SSN season. (Photo: Melbourne Vixens)

It was a whirlwind 2021 season with several moves to different states. The Inner Sanctum spoke with Kaylia Stanton about her first year at the Vixens.

It was a tough first season for Vixens goaler Kaylia Stanton, from traveling from one state to another at a moment’s notice on top of the pressure on court.

The Inner Sanctum spoke with Stanton as she reflected on her first season with the Melbourne Vixens.

Being a new addition to the Vixens in 2021, although hub life wasn’t easy it did give Stanton the unique opportunity to get to know her new teammates in a way that, had it been a normal season, she wouldn’t have had.

“I think it adds a unique environment that you wouldn’t get when you have your normal home and away season,” Stanton told The Inner Sanctum.

“I think you find out more about people off the court which definitely helps to build that connection as well.”

Season 2021 will be one to remember, with teams jumping from state to state at a moment’s notice.

“I think it’s probably one of the most chaotic seasons I’ve ever been a part of, and I think part of that comes from the COVID aspect and the fact that we were trying to play games without restrictions and actually get the games going.

“For us probably the biggest challenge was that consistency, probably both me personally but also as a team.

“I think we had some good wins and I think we had some games where we didn’t live up to our expectations and what we had hoped to achieve, and I think it’s about putting out that performance week in week out.”

Kaylia Stanton in the zone. (Photo: Dani Brown)

As the season progressed, Stanton looked more at home in the Melbourne Vixens front line. As every game passed, her confidence grew.

The game against the Sunshine Coast Lightning in Round 9 was a prime example of how dangerous she can be. Her 17 feed, 16 goal, three deflections, one intercept and two Super Shot performance earned her Player of the Match.

“It was unreal, I absolutely loved that game just for me that was so much fun I think it all came together for me in that game and I was just really proud of my own performance,” Stanton said.

“I feel like for me it’s going out there with confidence and having that really purpose and determination.  

“I was really clear in I wanted to achieve in that game, and I went out there to have fun and went out there with a smile on my face, and I think for me that was really key in putting out a good performance.

“As a team we had a really good training session in the lead up to that game and throughout the entire week, so you know it was a team effort, but it made me feel really comfortable when I was out there on court as well.”

That match saw how dangerous the partnership between Stanton and Mwai Kumwenda could be, with the pair really feeding off each other. Stanton has loved being able to play alongside Kumwenda across the season.

“I love MJ, I think she’s just a class act,” Stanton said.

“She’s a fantastic person away from the court as well and has a heart of gold. She’s such a lovely person and she brings so much energy to the team as well and particularly in that shooting circle.

“I think we have a great relationship, that understanding grew across the course of the season and I’ve absolutely loved playing with her this season.”

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Vixens coach Simone McKinnis recently signed on for a further four years at the club. For Stanton’s first season under McKinnis, she said that the coach has really helped her develop as a netballer in such a short time.

“She massively helped my development as a netballer and really made me think about different aspects of my game that I hadn’t necessarily put that much emphasis on prior to coming over to Vixens.

“For me she really optimises what the Vixens is and she really leads by example and [sets] those standards. That’s probably something that I’ve developed as well, the basic fundamental skills and really drilling that into the players and into myself as well.

“I think she has such passion and love for us as players, and that really comes out in her coaching throughout the course of the season.”

Simone McKinnis addresses the playing group. (Photo: Melbourne Vixens)

Stanton wasn’t the only goaler to pull on the blue dress for the first time in 2021, with up and comer Ruby Barkmeyer also joining the Vixens at the start of the year.

Being able to play and train alongside Barkmeyer, Stanton has seen first-hand her growth throughout the season.

“I’ve seen her [Barkmeyer] really flourish over the course of this season, and I think that’s the real beauty of team sports – you get to help the other athletes and the other people around you,” Stanton said.

“For her coming into her first year, I thought she did an amazing job and had some real success out there on court and she took her opportunity.”

In Round 12 against former side in the West Coast Fever, Stanton reached the 50 game milestone, a milestone she’d never have thought she’d achieve.

“It means a lot, I’m not someone who thought that would actually happen,” she said.

“I know for a lot of girls 50 games is something that kind of comes and goes for them and end up playing 100 games.

“For me I’ve been around for a long-time playing at Suncorp Super Netball level, and to get 50 games is a real achievement and something that I’m really proud of.

“I think it’s a testament to my determination and resilience to get back out there each week and each year as well.”

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