THE NSW Swifts are keen to expose SSA youngster Sophie Fawns to as much high level netball as possible after identifying the teenager as “one of those great talents”.
The quietly-spoken 16-year-old recently spent two weeks training with the Super Netball defending premiers as part of the NSW Swifts Academy, and is one of the youngest players in the squad.
Whilst training with the academy Fawns was able to get an up-close account of what it will take to eventually graduate to the professional ranks, and was mentored by Swifts international goal shooters Helen Housby and Sam Wallace.
“I tried to learn as much off them as possible, I had Sam talk me through a lot of things,” Fawns said.
“They were talking about how being able to come up here at 16 is amazing and to keep up the hard work, because you never know what it will take you.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to play for the Swifts one day and represent them, it definitely feels more real now training with them and seeing their environment.
“I expected it to be intense, but having never done something like that before it was an eye opener and pretty different.”
Fawns stayed with Keelan during the training camp and said she learned plenty about how to be professional on and off the court.
“She saw me play with the Southern Sports Academy and then kept an eye on me at states and things like that,” Fawns said.
“She asked me to be a part of the academy and is trying to give me more exposure (to high level netball), living regionally.
“The main thing I learned is their team culture and how they live by their values every day, and at every training.
“School has been really helpful in giving me the time to take these opportunities. The academy is good at making sure I’m getting my training drills in when I’m in Wagga.”
Keelan made no secret they’re excited with Fawns’ potential, but said they are focused on the long term view and will bring her along slowly.
“I think Sophie’s going to be one of those great talents. She’s only 16 years of age, she’s super keen and great athlete, and it’s up to us now to get more netball into her,” Keelan said.
“The last week-and-a-half (at the training camp) she’s proven she’s more than capable of that, she’s a super talent.
“Players probably take about five years to develop and the academy gives us total control of her conditioning and building her as a person, as well as giving them exposure to the Swifts.
“She’s one of many young players we’ve brought in over the pre-season to expose them to our girls, our culture, the speed and how hard the girls train.”