Lightning CEO Danielle Smith Praises Sunshine Coast Community Support

The much-loved local newspaper, The Sunshine Coast Daily, went to print for the final time last week on Saturday 27 June 2020, continuing as a digital-only news offering. Sunshine Coast Lightning CEO Danielle Smith penned a reflective piece for the final print edition. Read the full article below. 

In Sunshine Coast Lightning’s short history – three seasons so far in the Suncorp Super Netball League – I have had the good fortune to experience many great memories. Formed in late 2016, I have been privileged to be part of the creation and development of the region’s first professional sporting team competing in a national competition. The journey has been nothing short of remarkable and our success has produced many highlights, with our back-to-back premierships in the first two seasons being obvious magical moments.

But sometimes it’s the unanticipated moments that can leave an indelible mark in your memory.  One such moment was when we played in the 2018 minor semi-final against the Queensland Firebirds at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, a team established in 1997.  Not surprisingly we were seriously outnumbered by the Firebirds fans with a sea of purple dominating the Lightning yellow amongst the 6,500 strong crowd.  We had led for most of the match, but the Firebirds started to make a comeback from 7 goals down in the final quarter, chipping away at our lead.  Their fans started chanting “Firebirds” to urge their players on, but the much smaller Lightning crowd began screaming “Lightning”, getting louder and louder each time, to the point where they completely drowned out our rival fans’ voices.

It was a surreal moment for me… I stopped watching the game to question if I was hearing right?  It felt like time stood still as I looked around the stadium, and soaked in the incredible atmosphere, observing the absolute passion emanating from our fans.

I felt an overwhelming sense of pride for our Sunshine Coast community, for our players, members, fans, sponsors, and everyone involved with our club, at what we had collectively achieved in such a short period of time. Two years earlier our club didn’t even exist, but here we were, Sunshine Coast Lightning, the club we built with, and for the community, clearly demonstrating the power of our region.  We went on to win that match by one goal, and two matches later, were premiers once again.

Our Sunshine Coast community is the pulse of our club, and we have continued to hear it beat louder and faster each year.  There is nothing better than seeing Lightning play to our loud and proud fans at our sell-out home matches at USC Stadium.

We are proud to represent the Sunshine Coast and wouldn’t have achieved such great success without the support of our incredible community, who truly are the most passionate fans in the competition!

Danielle Smith, CEO