Caitlyn Nevins hoping for farewell Firebirds win
THREE domestic netball championships and Australian representation. Caitlyn Nevins can't ask for much more in her career, but maybe, just a win in her final Super Netball game today, when the Firebirds are hosted by arch rivals the Swifts in Sydney.
But, not so much for herself - or fellow retiree Laura Clemesha - but her teammates to take into next season.
"Winning the last game of the season is so important, helping the girls for the 2020 season," the 32-year-old midcourt star said.
"I'm actually really confident we can match them and possibly win."
While the Swifts sit second, the once-powerful Firebirds will finish bottom after being plagued by injuries.
"I'm really lucky with what I have accomplished throughout my career," Nevins said. "Winning three premierships straight off the bat, one with the Vixens (2014) and two with the Firebirds (2015, 2016).
"I think I've appreciated those wins a little bit more over the last couple of seasons.
"This season has been one of the hardest, but the group of players are so united, we've gone through so much adversity.
"The Firebirds will be in a brilliant position in 2020 with a good pre-season and continuity with the team."
Nevins earmarked centre Jemma Mi Mi for a big future, saying, "she's blossomed this year, done an amazing job", while Mahalia Cassidy will return from a second knee reconstruction.
"There's so much talent ... home-grown talent," she said.
Nevins, who made five appearances for the Diamonds as the oldest debutant in 2016, said the 2015 title with the Firebirds was her favourite career memory. The side had come back from being eight goals down to snatch the lead in the dying seconds.
"The crowd at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre was just insane, they really helped to lift us," she recalled. "Once we won everyone was shouting 'Queenslander'! in the stadium. It was so special It was such a challenge, such a battle."
The immensely popular Nevins, who grew up in Echuca on the Victorian side of the Murray River, will continue to work part-time as a podiatrist.
"I don't want to completely move away from netball. Whether it's just a mentor role, or coaching different types of teams, I'll stay connected with the sport. I love it."