McAuliffe Reflects On Lightning Journey Ahead Of 50th Match

As she approaches her 50th National League Match on Sunday, Maddy McAuliffe feels overwhelmingly proud to have been part of Sunshine Coast Lightning spanning four seasons, as opposed to focusing on any individual accolade.

In four years the midcourter has come to consider her Sunshine Coast Lightning team as ‘family’.

“A big thing for me is being with the Club for this long,” McAuliffe said.

“Being part of Lightning since its inception has been more enjoyable than a certain number of games played – I just feel lucky, I guess.”

As one of the Club’s foundation players, Lightning provided the midcourter with her first professional netball contract, an opportunity she did not take for granted.

“When I think back to when I got that call, in some ways it feels like so long ago and sometimes it feels like a week ago,” she said.

“That first year was like a little summer camp… we were so in the present I couldn’t even imagine being here now.

“But to see the growth of this Club over four years and to be part of it has been really special.”

From having to fight for time on court to becoming a pivotal member of Lightning’s midcourt, McAuliffe says she has grown both personally and professionally in her time at the Club.

“I think as a player I’ve changed dramatically since I started at Lightning – I think a huge part of that is the people we’ve had at the Club – not just the coaching staff but the players we’ve had,” she said.

“Something we do really well at this Club is the collaboration, the feedback, the open space to talk to each other – I think that’s helped me develop a lot.”

It’s only fitting that McAuliffe plays her 50th career match under Head Coach Kylee Byrne, who has been influential during her netball development within the Netball Queensland pathways.

Assistant Coach Chris Voge and current teammates Laura Scherian, Jacqui Russell and Cara Koenen have also played a large role in that journey.

“To have those people come up [through the ranks] from where we first started and to now all be here together is really cool,” she said.

“Shezzy’s mum and my mum are best friends and sometimes I look up at them in the crowd and think they used to be watching us at Club level and now they’re here together, it’s a pretty amazing moment.”

While the concept of a milestone match may not be front of mind for McAuliffe on Sunday, she said she will take time to appreciate the opportunity to play competitive netball alongside her Lightning ‘family’.

“It will be game day as usual,” she said.

“It’s another opportunity to play and right now, especially with the year that it has been, every time we get out on court there is that moment of appreciation.”