Lightning Program Teaching More Than Technique and Tactics For Unie

When first joining Sunshine Coast Lightning as a Training Partner Ashlee Unie was eager to pick the brains of those around her to become an elite netballer.

But as the 23-year-old heads into her third season, the lesson that resonates most with the defender applies to life more so than just netball.

“Being part of the Lightning program has taught me a lot technically, tactically, but I think the biggest take away is being able to manage yourself holistically as an athlete,” Unie said.

“Being able to push yourself on court and reach that upper echelon of where you want to be but also take care of yourself off the court – to know what’s important and find that balance.

“Lightning are really good at having that family atmosphere – Lightning like to look after their own, once you’re in the fold they will do whatever they can to help you achieve your goals in any aspect of your life.”

The Sunshine Coast local was one of Lightning’s inaugural Training Partners in 2017, before taking a one-year hiatus from netball to “balance the other side of her life” and complete her university degree in Brisbane.

Unie returned to Lightning in 2019 and continued to thrive in the competitive environment, going on to co-captain Lightning’s Australian National League affiliate Territory Storm and USC Thunder in their inaugural year competing in QLD’s Sapphire Series.

“I’ve been really heartened and really welcomed here, that’s one of the main reasons why I came back, I knew that we would all work together to help each other out,” she said.

“The fact that Lightning have chosen to put another year into my development is really heartening, that they see potential in me that I could some day be playing up at that SSN (Suncorp Super Netball) level.

“Hopefully I can prove them right and I’m happy to put in another year of work to get there.”

On court Unie has impressed at Goal Defence and Wing Defence and considers herself incredibly lucky to have the likes of Karla Pretorius and Laura Langman at the Club to learn and shape her game off.

“As a player I would describe myself as typical Australian defence – I like to be one-on-one, I like to run my man down and be that dogged defence,” she said.

“I like to read the play and take pick-off here and there where I see that patterns.

“I am looking to progress out further towards the centre court and progress my game in that aspect.

“Being around the players and coaches that are here at Lightning – if you’re willing to take on some feedback and try new things, there’s only up.”

Unie hopes she is the first of many Sunshine Coast locals who will benefit from the evolving netball pathways in the region, brought about by Lightning and the introduction of USC Thunder and the USC Netball Academy.

“[These clear pathways] will hopefully foster our talent here on the Sunshine Coast and enable them to make that jump to Sapphire League and hopefully SSN one day,” she said.

“These developments are huge and a testament to what the netball community have been doing in the region for years.”

The athletes are working hard in the gym towards next season, so don’t miss your opportunity to join the Lightning family in 2020. Memberships on sale now. View our full range of membership categories and options here.