The 2022 Geraldton netball season starts on Tuesday, May 3 with a grand final rematch between Aztecs and Pumas at 6pm.
The Aztecs were undefeated last season, beating the Pumas 43-41 in the grand final to cap off a stunning season.
Aztecs coach Leanne Fiorenza said “as a team we look forward to the challenge, we will continue to work hard at trainings while making sure that we don’t just rely on talent but on teamwork and commitment to each other”.
They have lost Rene Brand to a shoulder injury for the season, Michelle Taylor has relocated to Melbourne with her family for husband Harry’s coaching role with Geelong, and Kobi Toomath has moved to Adelaide to play water polo.
Pumas coach Nic Gleghorn said she’s “really looking forward to seeing our young stars being given the opportunity to play senior one this season and show off their talent”.
The Pumas have a number of outs this season, with Hannah Trusso, Erika Yokwe, Julia Teakle and Finn Mulligan all moving to Perth for university.
Geraldton Netball Association president Kelly Eastough said this was an issue experienced by all clubs in the league.
“The senior numbers have dropped a little bit, we’ve got talented kids that are both academic and good sports people. So we’ve lost a few of those, and that’s across the board, from all clubs, to Perth universities, so good on them for wanting to pursue their education,” she said.
“That also gives an opportunity for up-and-coming talent to come through play reserves, bench or even actually get a run in the senior one competition.”
Kazuals coach Deanne Bridgeman echoed these views.
“I believe there will be some teams rebuilding this season, bringing their youth up through the pathways that will bring strength to come for future seasons. This will make the competition more even this season and bring exciting young players to the top of Geraldton Netball Association club competition,” she said.
The Falcons have six players out from last year, bringing in six news players for the 2022 season.
Falcons player-coach Rachel Opalinski said “we have recruited some new players who are very eager to learn, have a positive outlook and a hard work ethic at training.”
Lightning’s Rebbecca Gillespie-Harp and Emma Smith have both returned to the senior one team after playing in the reserves last year.
Lightning coach Nat Pepper said “we still have our strong middle and defensive players with Kendall Schuts and Georgia Keyser in the centre who will supply Emma Smith with great feeds into the attacking goal circle.
“They have all played together for a few years and hopefully with this experience and hunger to win a premiership the girls will pull it all together to make it a very successful season.”
Following an end-of-season review for the 2021 competition, night fixtures have been moved to Tuesday and Thursday for 2022, with games played at 6pm and 7pm.
The sub juniors will remain on a Saturday morning, followed by the juniors on Saturday afternoon.