‘Trailblazer’ takes to netball courts for third season
NETBALL: A dominant 2019 season has seen Warwick netballer Caitlin Skaines named in Darling Downs Panthers representative side for a third consecutive year.
The 18-year-old has garnered a reputation for her willingness to learn and on court strength after two years in the team.
Panthers head coach Rebecca Stower said Skaines' ability to "step up each year" ensured her reselection in the 15-person squad.
"She was quite raw but very athletic (when she started with us) and had a very high energy and willingness to learn," she said.
"We've just developed her skill level and understanding positionally over the last two years.
"All around, she's just a good person to have in the team environment."
Skaines is set to make a positional switch this year to wing defence, having started her career as a goal defence.
Stower credits the ambitious attitude Skaines shows on court to the change in position.
"We're focusing her more in the wing defence now," she said.
"She's still got the athleticism and high energy and works exceptionally hard in her personal training and in the team environment.
"She's really fast and has good instincts, and she is quite fearless on the court - that all kind of spells wing defence to me."
The Ruby Series is expected to commence mid-August, following a stoppage to the season due to coronavirus.
The shock announcement has been eased by players' commitments to training during the uncertain times, according to Stower.
"Everyone was very active via social media on our group chats and we were getting the girls to post their individual workouts onto Facebook and Instagram," she said.
"We were working hard on conditioning and strength during the heavy restrictions.
"Which has worked out well now because we can hit the court hard rather than worrying too much about strength which would do in our regular pre-season."
While Skaines is Warwick's only representative player, Stower hopes more players will follow in her footsteps.
"Over the years we've had a couple players filter through, and we've got quite a few in our Cubs program," she said.
"It's a matter of players being in form to what's sort of around as far as development goes.
"Warwick isn't one of the ones where we find a lot (of players) come from and I'd like to see more.
"(Caitlin) has been a bit of a trailblazer for Warwick, and shows that it can be done."