Coach of the year

By Jarryd Barca

Corowa Rutherglen’s Georgie Bruce was first blindsided by the club when it nominated her for an AFL North East Border community award, now she’s officially the netball coach of the year. 

Georgie coaches the A Grade Roos and was up against fellow nominees for the Netball Coach of the Year award in Tracey Fitzpatrick and Marni Witts from Bright, and also Ashlee Martin from Wangaratta. 

“I’m terribly humbled that’s for sure. I suppose it’s sunk in now and it’s a massive achievement for anyone to win, so obviously I’m pretty chuffed with it,” Bruce told The Free Press.

Bruce said her initial reaction to winning the award at Albury’s Commercial Club on September 3 was one of pure shock. 

“I got there and I knew one of the girls that I was up against. She’s done a wonderful job, she’s a lovely player and a lovely girl and she’s taken her team to the finals this year,” she said. 

“There were two other ladies there from the Bright region, they put up on the screen what they had done and they’ve been wonderful community people as well. 

“These other three ladies have contributed a lot to netball, so it was definitely a shock to think that they would have picked me above those girls.” 

Bruce said there are plenty of positives to take out of the 2018 season for Corowa Rutherglen despite not making the netball finals.

The A Grade netballers finished with an even ledger, winning and losing nine games for the season and ending up just one spot out of the finals. 

“We had a higher percentage than two of the other teams that finished in the finals and two of those finalists we actually beat in the home and away season,” she said. 

“Whilst it’s disappointing that we didn’t end up in the finals, I think that we had great enough teams to be able to do that.

“We also need to reflect on the fact that they’re young girls, this is the first time that both the A and the B Grade have been together as a team and it takes time to gel – you can’t push these things. 

“We’ll take the experience, we have a strong side and we’ll take that again into next year and hopefully make the finals.

“We know that we’re going to lose some players and we’ve got some girls that are moving away whether it be for work or for university, but we know we’re in a really good position and are attractive to other players coming in.”

Bruce said she is thankful for the support of her many peers when reflecting on the season and her prestigious award. 

“The Corowa Rutherglen Football Netball Club has been wonderful, it’s a really lovely and positive place to be around and we need places like that in our lives,” she said. 

“My family as well is very understanding and I’ve got a strong support network around me that helps me be able to continue working.”

Bruce also thanked her players for the season, saying they have been wonderful and make her job enjoyable.

Linda Eyers was also recently awarded with an AWJFL volunteer award that recognises the work she puts in for the juniors, while the club was a nominee for the ‘Outstanding Initiative’ award following the players’ efforts in raising money for the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners.

Corowa Rutherglen Football Netball Club President Graham Hosier told The Free Press he is proud that the club is getting the recognition it deserves and also congratulated the two award winners, saying they are both “worthy recipients”. 

“It’s fantastic for the club to be recognised for three awards for the AFL North East area, and Georgie has proven that she’s a fantastic coach in the Ovens and Murray and thoroughly deserves the coach of the year award,” he said. 

“Linda is always there when we need a volunteer around the club and she’s a fantastic person to have around the place.

“I think the outstanding initiative nomination is great recognition. It’s an effort solely by the players; they came to us, and to put it back into the community proves that it’s not all about football all the time. The players understand what’s happening around the nation so it’s a fantastic initiative.”