BATHURST netball talent Olivia Johnston has capped of her maiden season in the Netball NSW Premier League under 20s, claiming the MVP for her side Panthers.
She originally tried out for the team earlier this year, not expecting to get called into the final squad.
But she eventually got the nod and featured for Panthers throughout 2018.
Johnston said the feeling was “crazy” when she got announced as the under 20s MVP, at the presentation night at Penrith Panthers Leagues Club on October 20.
“I did not expect that at all,” she said on being awarded the MVP.
“When they were announcing it, I was thinking in my head, ‘Oh yeah, who’s going to get this?’ I was thinking about all the other players that might win it and when they called out my name, I was really shocked but really happy about it.”
She last played in netball in Bathurst in 2017, featuring in the Bulldogs Verdelho side that defeat Panthers A in the Bathurst District Netball Association A grade grand final.
But the players she goes up against and the competition she faces down in Sydney is vastly different to Bathurst.
“It’s basically a different kind of game [to Bathurst netball],” she said.
“The girls down there are a lot stronger, a lot fitter and harder to keep up with.
“But once you’re down there for a while, you get use to it and you’re able to match it with them.”
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The Netball NSW Permier League is a competition that attracts the best current and emerging talent within the state, with its purpose to offer an elite platform for players, coaches, officials and administrators.
It also provides opportunities for players to break into the Australian Netball League and Suncorp Super Netball.
The competition was originally unveiled back in July, 2015.
This year eight franchises from across Sydney competed in a 14 week regular season, with all games played at the Genea Netball Centre at the Sydney Olympic Park.
Panthers is a team that is an amalgamation of three Western Sydney netball associations – Penrith District, Hawkesbury City and Blue Mountains.
Panthers only managed three wins from 14 games throughout the season.
“We went alright,” Johnston said.
“This year was more about a building season, with new players and getting a new team together after the past team moved on to a higher level.
“But we came away with a few wins, which is pretty good.”
She travelled from Bathurst to Sydney twice per week to train with and play for Panthers in the competition
But now most of her teammates have moved up, shifting from the under 20s to the under 23s side for the upcoming 2019 season.
Johnston’s target is to now crack into that under 23s side and see how far she can progress at Panthers.