Sunshine Coast Lightning will farewell foundation player Maddy McAuliffe at the end of this month after making the decision to step away from netball.
McAuliffe made the difficult decision to forego Lightning’s offer and instead refocus on her career outside of netball in the legal field.
“I feel incredibly privileged to be offered another contract at Lightning for the 2022 season and I thank the Club for that, but this year I’ve made one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” McAuliffe said.
“Essentially the decision was either to continue playing netball or to focus on my non-netball professional career – and while it was a really tough choice for me to make, I have chosen to appreciate the five years I’ve had at the Club and move onto the next phase of my life.
“I feel so grateful for the past five years and the opportunities this Club has presented me, the people I’ve met, the relationships I’ve built and the home I’ve built on the Sunshine Coast.
“The Sunshine Coast community and our Members in particular are the backbone of this Club – we would not be what we are without them.
“Walking around in the community there’s such a sense of home for me and I cannot thank the Members and fans enough for everything they have done for this Club and everything they will continue to do and I can’t wait to join them and be one of them in the stands.”
The Club thanks McAuliffe for the skill, energy and passion she has brought to the team on and off court over the past five seasons.
The 26-year-old has been an integral member of the Lightning midcourt throughout her time at the Club, showing her wares at both Centre and Wing Defence.
Head Coach Kylee Byrne said McAuliffe has left a remarkable impact on every person she has met in her time at Lightning from her peers, staff, Members, sponsors and the wider community.
“We knew the day would come that one of our five year foundation players wouldn’t be a part of our playing future but it doesn’t make it any easier when it actually happens,” Byrne said.
“After coaching Maddy since she was seventeen, I personally am so proud of everything she has accomplished, whether it was on the court or establishing her connections with her teammates, our staff and our community.
“Maddy was extremely passionate about leaving the sport in a better place for the future generations of netballers and she has achieved this.
“We wish Maddy nothing but the absolute best in her future endeavours.
“I have no doubt that Maddy will excel in whatever challenge she tackles next in life and she will forever be part of our Lightning family as a foundation player.”
Club CEO Danielle Smith also praised McAuliffe’s contribution to the Club across five years and said she would be greatly missed.
“Anyone who has met Maddy can attest to how warm and friendly she is, she really is a great Club person and it has been a pleasure having her on our team,” Smith said.
“While she is stepping away as a player, Maddy will remain part of the Lightning family and we have already begun conversations on how she can continue to be involved around the Club in years to come.”
McAuliffe played 75 games for Lightning after making her debut in the yellow in the Club’s inaugural Round 1 clash against Queensland Firebirds in 2017.
Amongst many highlights over her five years, she contributed to two Premierships, playing an important on court role in the 2018 Grand Final win in Perth.
As Vice President of the Australian Netball Players’ Association she was also pivotal to key negotiations in the 2022 and beyond Collective Players’ Agreement and the betterment of the code as a whole.
Through the course of her career the midcourter was impressive amassing 124 goal assists, 215 feeds, 83 gains and 63 intercepts.