Sunshine Coast Lightning hosted its 2017 Premiership Reunion event on the weekend — celebrating the inaugural season and many achievements of that year, including winning the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball grand final.
Foundation players, coaches and staff — including Dame Noeline Taura, Geva Mentor CBE, Laura Langman ONZM and Caitlin Bassett — as well as current players, staff, Partners, Members, fans and the local community flew in from across the country and the Tasman for the formal event.
The Club built a strong foundation in 2017, after Sunshine Coast Council, University of the Sunshine Coast and Melbourne Storm formed a unique consortium that would successfully bid for a licence in the new Suncorp Super Netball League.
2017 Captain, Geva Mentor spoke about her memories of that year and what they achieved.
“It really is quite special. It was so unique what Noels (Noeline Taurua) managed to do right from the onset and what we managed to go through — from the events to the games. Not just on court but also off court, and those memories we built and the relationships we solidified. To be back here together again, it’s super special,” she said.
When asked how it feels to be back on the Sunshine Coast, she spoke highly of the support from the local community.
“That’s really what it’s all about, it’s about the people. And not just the players and the staff but also the community. On the Sunny Coast everyone really got behind us — they are a fantastic support crew. Lots of people talk about success and it wasn’t all about winning, it was also the culture created in that year.”
Former Lightning player and Australian Diamonds Captain, Caitlin Bassett said 2017 and 2018 were some of the best years of her career.
“It feels like I’ve been transported back to 2017 and to be honest, I wish I was back in 2017! We moved up to the Sunshine Coast, we started a brand-new club with a bunch of players that had never played together, with coaching staff that had never coached us before. It’s definitely nice to be back in the same room as everyone,” she said.
In less than a year from the Club’s establishment, the team won the premiership — a feat no other professional sporting team has achieved in its debut season, making Sunshine Coast Lightning the most successful start-up sporting club in Australian history.