Abbey talks about that winning feeling

by abbey-mcculloch
24JUL

I like winning.  Who doesn’t? Sometimes winning comes easily; other times you have to lose in order to learn what needs to be done to get that winning feeling back.  I’ve been on both sides of the fence and I bet you can guess which side I prefer.  As a young player coming through the pathways, I won more games and titles than I lost.  With my junior rep team – Sutherland Shire – I won all four State Age Championships.  This is near unheard of.  As an underage player coming through the Netball NSW ranks, I was fortunate enough to win six consecutive national titles:  two in the under 17s, two in the under 19s and two in the under 21s.  Again, almost unheard of.

As I got older, winning became harder.  I was no longer playing against girls my own age. Instead, the opposition I came up against were women, with more experience and skills than I had encountered before.  I was a teenager playing a woman’s game, but I was quick to learn my place, and for the first year I played state league one, my place was on the bench.  Of the 80 quarters my team played that year I saw the court for only 3 quarters.  Add to that the fact that I didn’t finish the season with a trophy in my hand and I was brought back to earth rapidly.

The next year I saw more court time, but again no trophy.  Deciding to try my luck at a different club, I jumped ship based not only on my greediness to win, but also to be coached by the woman that would go on to become the current Swifts Assistance Coach and one of my biggest mentors, supporters and friends.  We made the grand final, but lost by a hefty 10 goals to the better team on the day.

I had now gone several years without winning a major competition.  It was a sensation I was becoming oddly familiar with, but not one I enjoyed.  For five years I played state league one, and for five years I played finals only to fall short of the prize every single time.  Last month my 2015 season with the NSW Swifts came to an end.  And I was fortunate enough to play in another grand final.  This time, in the best competition in the world, in front of a packed crowd of over 7000 fans and with three minutes to go, I was certain my dry spell was over.  We had been ahead the entire game but with 15 seconds to go we lost in one of the most earth shattering experiences of my netball career.

We may not have won and despite the fact that I had to stand with a silver medal around my neck while I watched the opposition celebrate, I can honestly say I’m bloody proud of what we achieved this year.  Looking around at my teammates, I could see the sadness I felt etched on every single one of their faces.  A sadness we will never forget.  A sadness that was accompanied by a sense of pride in what we had achieved this year, because it is damn hard to make a grand final and we worked for each other every step of the way. A sadness that we will remember for years to come and a sadness that will be the reason next year will have a different ending!

After years of success, I’m currently in a dry spell.  But dry spells don’t last forever and when it rains, it pours!

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