Ashlee Unie Elevated To Lightning 2021 Squad

Local Sunshine Coast product Ashlee Unie has been promoted to Sunshine Coast Lightning’s squad of 10 for 2021, as reward for effort after three impressive seasons as Training Partner at the Club.

Unie was part of the Club’s extended squad for the full 2020 season and made her Suncorp Super Netball debut for Lightning in the Round 3 clash against Melbourne Vixens.

The 24-year-old has been a top performer in the Deakin University Australian Netball League and Queensland Sapphire Series in recent seasons, showing her wares at both Goal Defence and Wing Defence.

Head Coach Kylee Byrne said Unie is a highly talented athlete who has already made a huge contribution to the Club since 2017.

“We’ve had a close eye on Ash for over four seasons now and I have absolutely no doubt that she has all the talent and attributes to succeed in the SSN,” Byrne said.

“It’s been so pleasing to be able to give her a taste at the elite level this season and it is an absolute credit to Ash how far her game has progressed in this intensive environment.  

“She’s sacrificed so much to pursue her passion of netball and it is so gratifying to be able to reward her for her years of hard work and resilience with a permanent position next season.”

The 24-year-old said she was ecstatic to accept a full-time contract with Lightning and would not take the added responsibility lightly.

“When Kylee shared the news I was speechless, it’s a dream come true to earn this Lightning contract and it’s something I have been working towards for a number of years,” Unie said.

“I’ve learnt a great deal as a Training Partner, so it will be exciting to take that to the next level in 2021 when I can continue to hone my craft with the best in the business. 

“I loved every minute out on court this year and I hope to expand on those opportunities and play my role for the team in 2021.

“To grow up on the Sunshine Coast and now be representing the region on a national stage is such a privilege and is not something I take for granted.”

Unie was first selected as a Training Partner in Lightning’s inaugural season but took a hiatus from the Club in 2018 to move to Brisbane to join Queensland Firebirds as a Training Partner and finish her studies in physiotherapy.

She returned to Lightning in 2019 and in 2020 was elevated to the squad of 12 for the full 14 rounds of the regular season and two finals.

Unie was first elevated to the Lightning squad as injury cover for one game in 2017, as well being included in the extended squad for two rounds in 2019 after the Netball World Cup, however did not take to the court in each of those occasions.

Unie is currently Co-Captain of the USC Thunder side competing in the Sapphire Series and was previously Co-Captain of the Lightning affiliated Territory Storm in the Deakin University Australian Netball League in 2019.