Firebirds goal keeper Laura Geitz pictured in action during the ANZ Championships.
Firebirds goal keeper Laura Geitz pictured in action during the ANZ Championships.

Schoolgirls to sporting stars

AFTER first representing Queensland while at primary school on the Southern Downs, Laura Geitz and Clare McMeniman are one step away from being the first Queenslanders to win a major league title in netball.

The pair will combine in defence for minor premiers Mission Queensland Firebirds against LG Mystics in the ANZ Championship final on Sunday at 2.30pm at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

While McMeniman made Darling Downs and state teams in netball while at Warwick West State School, Geitz first rose to prominence in athletics and swimming.

She carried the Olympic torch in Warwick in 2000 due to her success in sports other than netball.

Geitz first represented Queensland in year five in sprints while a student at Allora State School.

In secondary school, McMeniman attended John Paul College in Brisbane where her netball career blossomed.

Back on the Southern Downs, Geitz first played netball for The Scots PGC College in the TAS competition and club netball in Warwick and was soon identified by Queensland netball coaching staff as a player of the future.

McMeniman was first to take up a scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and make Australian age group teams.

During Year 12, Geitz was invited to a camp at the AIS and after only one weekend in the spotlight made the Australian under-21 team together with McMeniman to compete in the World Youth Cup in Florida in the United States in 2005.

Australia won bronze and the following year, both McMeniman and Geitz were at the AIS and in the Canberra Darters team in the national league.

When their scholarships at the AIS ended, both returned home at different times to link with the Queensland Firebirds. In 2008, the national league evolved into the ANZ Championship.

McMeniman was first to vice captain the Firebirds and now Geitz is in the role and the on-court player in charge in the wake of a season-ending injury to captain Lauren Nourse.

Both McMeniman and Geitz played their 50th games this season for the Firebirds.

Two of the top sportswomen to start their careers on the Southern Downs have received outstanding support from their families.

Geitz’s parents Ross and Juanita, and grandmother Betty Ball have never missed a Firebirds’ home game.

Sister Carla will be at the final on Sunday and also represented Darling Downs in netball and athletics.

The McMeniman siblings have all starred in sport.

Twins Conor and Joseph had outstanding success in sports like rowing and athletics, while Hugh has played rugby union for the Queensland Reds, Wallabies and in Japan.

Geoff and Anne-Maree McMeniman have given their children every possible opportunity in sport.

Geoff died two years ago and win, lose or draw, won’t be forgotten as the Firebirds chase their first premiership win on Sunday in their first finals appearance.

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