20/04/2024
Maddie Hay with an intercept

Maddie Hay with an intercept. (Photo: Giants Netball)

Maddie Hay has stepped into the wing attack bib for the Giants, becoming a key member of a side that is now aiming for the Super Netball Championship.

Maddie Hay has become the answer the Giants were seeking at wing attack, and a vital part of their Super Netball team.

Despite being with the Giants since 2017 as a training partner, Hay found her niche in the side in 2020 when she replaced Kimberlee Green in the midcourt.

Hay was a training partner with the Giants in their early years, and has been a part of the family for their full history. Her rapid rise has surprised even herself.

“If you had told me a couple of years ago that I was playing wing attack, and starting wing attack, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Hay told The Inner Sanctum.

“I was a wing defence and a goal defence in juniors, and was thrown into centre every now and then, depending on the team.”

In 2019, Hay moved up to the other transverse line to try and fill the spot left by the retiring Green. She’s settled in and made wing attack her own ever since.

“I didn’t think it was something I’d be able to do, but Julie [Fitzgerald] and the team showed a lot of faith in me, throwing me in there for a couple of pre-season games in 2019, and I really enjoyed it,” Hay said.

“From there, I’ve just been really willing to learn and grow into that role.”

At the end of 2019, Green announced her retirement from netball, and from the Giants. She was one of the most decorated national league players, with over 200 national league games, and multiple Commonwealth Games and World Championships appearances.

Hay knew that she couldn’t fill Green’s shoes, and play exactly the same role. She’s sought to make the position her own a different way.

“The key thing was to realise that I was never going to be Kim Green, and I couldn’t try and emulate the way she played, because the way she played was so special, so clever and so good,” Hay explained.

“I could try and learn from the stuff that she did that I could bring into my game, without being able to have her speed and dynamic movements.”

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Hay’s process for learning wing attack as her own player has included a heavy dose of drawing from her junior history as a wing defence.

“I love being an attacking player, its cool being able to handle the ball so much compared to a defence player,” she said.

“The way I think about it is a lot to do with how I would hate my wing attack to play against me as a wing defence.”

Hay explained how she has taken the position cerebrally, and emphasised those strengths.

“I like to take in my defence learning from over the years and apply it to attack as well,” she said.

“I try and do the things that a wing defence would hate like screens and playing a bit smarter.”

Forging a Giant bond

Hay has the luxury of practicing against one of the emerging young wing defence players of the competition in Amy Parmenter. She’s the Giants’ number one interceptor, and is also ranked second for deflections.

Hay credits training battles with Parmenter for making her a better player as well.

“We’ve got a good thing going at Giants, where we can build each other up and teach each other what’s working well,” Hay said.

“I couldn’t ask for a more competitive person to play against, it’s so good for me.”

That competitiveness doesn’t just extend to work ethic, but also the technical skills. Both players like to play a pocket ball, with Parmenter hunting for intercepts at training as Hay hones her craft with pocket feeds.

While Hay has been a Giants training partner since 2017, she has history with some of the Giants players that goes back further than her time with the side.

As a junior, Hay faced off against Kiera Austin, Parmenter, Matilda McDonell and Kristiana Manu’a, among her current teammates.

She credits her strong chemistry with her teammates to having had the chance to see them play up close, watching each player develop over the years.

“I know when I’m on court with Keira and Parmy [Parmenter], that I’ve got a really great understanding of their game,” she said.

“You can’t teach that, it comes with a lot of years together, and it does help.”

This year, Hay has taken young shooter Sophie Dwyer under her wing, and has built chemistry with her as she attempts to replace Keira Austin, who tore her ACL in Round One of the 2021 Super Netball season.

“Sophie and I really forged a strong connection during those preseason games, which I think we wouldn’t have had without it, and we grew so much every game,” Hay said.

“When she did come in and take that role, it’s been a little more seamless.”

Hay has set 2021 as a year of growth, as the team has returned to the form that saw it a finals contender in its early years, and has set her sights on continuing to improve.

“For me, I just want to keep improving in wing attack. I’ll be looking to nail it for four quarters every week.”

Off the court

Outside of the netball court, Hay used to be a snowboarder, and enjoyed travelling. With COVID-19 restrictions, and the demands of professional netball, both those passions have been put to the side temporarily.

“I had a few different odd jobs, which was pretty cool, and I had a bit more of a social life and could do more travelling and snowboarding,” Hay said.

She has decided that snowboarding will make a re-entry to her life at a later stage.

“I can’t do things like snowboarding now, so I’m glad I had the time that I did. I’ll keep the extreme sports for after my career.”

In the meantime, Hay will continue to play wing attack for the Giants as they rise up the ladder, and put themselves in finals contention.

Despite her bib now saying ‘attack’ and not ‘defence’ on it, she explained that the philosophy of the Giants is that all players defend.

“I’m definitely a defender at heart, so I never slacked off in defence, or I’d be too angry at myself,” Hay said.

“I like to take my defence learning from over the years, and apply to attack as well, and try to be that strong wing attack too.”

Hay has played every game for the Giants this year, as they now sit third ahead of Round 10 which seems them face the Collingwood Magpies.

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