By David Nagel
When Bethany Hoefer agreed to try out for the National Christian School Sports netball carnival in Sydney earlier this year – never did she imagine becoming the most valuable player in the State.
But the Chairo Christian College student took all before her, defending and pressuring the best goalers from around the country to earn top honours in the Under 15 division of the championships.
But Bethany was only 12!
“The school asked the students if they would like to try out for the different sports so I just thought I’d give it a go,” Bethany said.
“When we got to the first training session I thought it was Under 13s, but it was actually Under 15s we were trying out for. It was a bit scary at first against the older girls and I didn’t do too well in the first try outs, but I did much better in the second try outs and got picked as a training partner.
“After the first training session I got a message saying that I was picked in the side which was really exciting.”
Bethany, who lives in Nar Nar Goon and plays Under 13s for Pakenham, celebrated her 13th birthday on Saturday 24 June, the same day we interviewed her for this story. The trip to Sydney with her mum Lea was the trip of young lifetime.
“We got buses to Sydney with all the other sports like soccer and basketball and it was really interesting to be around people from the different sports,” Bethany said.
“It was a bit scary at first, not knowing many of the other girls, but it was a great experience and one I’ll never forget in a hurry.”
The NCSS championships comprise five sports, with basketball, netball, soccer, tennis and volleyball all part of the great experience.
Bethany wasn’t quite sure how’d she measure up to start with.
“I was really nervous, the nerves were really kicking in, but they got better after we played more games,” she said.
“It was a bit daunting to start with because two of the girls from New South Wales were already in development squads and there were some really good players in all the teams.
“Our coach Laura was just like a second mother, she was amazing and just so energetic and really taught us to have fun, and to never stop pushing to get the best out of ourselves.”
Despite playing in a competition with girls two years her elder, Bethany had a hunch she was in the running for the MVP, but it still came as a great surprise.
“Everyone was sitting together when they read out the MVP awards for each state and Victoria was the last to be read, out so we had to wait a while,” Bethany said.
“I thought I was dreaming when they read my name out, everyone was cheering for me and it was just a really awesome experience.”
Bethany’s brothers, James and Joel, play football for Nar Nar Goon, but Bethany would have none of it, staying at Pakenham with her friends.
“It’s funny, because I love playing netball at Pakenham but I’m not really fussed about watching it,” she said.
“Sport is my interest, and netball and football are the two sports I love most. I support the Vixens in netball and Hawthorn in the football.”
Bethany wanted to thank some special people for getting her to this stage of her netball career.
“I want to thank my family for pushing me to be a better person, they’ve really shaped my life, and the president of the Pakenham Netball Club, Jenny Burridge, for just being a fantastic support to every player at the club,” she said.
“And I would also like to thank my coaches, they’ve all been great.”