The excitement of meeting your favourite professional netball player growing up is a memory that Tara Hinchliffe often reflects on when pulling on a netball dress or when asked to community appearances.
Sunshine Coast Lightning prides itself on being a community Club and it seems the new recruit will transition seamlessly into the team both on and off court.
“That’s why I play netball – for all those little girls,” Hinchliffe said.
“I can’t wait to get out there and meet our fans, they are the most special part of game day, whether you win or lose, they are always there.
“I can’t wait to meet them and gain their support and make some new friendships up here as well, because that will be really important.”
Hinchliffe comes to Lightning after five years on the Queensland Firebirds roster, and while the decision to shift teams was difficult, she said Head Coach Kylee Byrne was very convincing.
“Chatting to Kylee when I came up to meet her for coffee, I feel like she sold me on the Club pretty quickly,” she said.
“I had her (as a coach) when I was 16 and having (sister) Mads up here, there’s all these little links that I’ve always looked back to Lightning, so I feel like it’s exciting to make that jump.
“Kylee showed so much belief in me which is massive, especially coming back after injury but also the experience and success that this Club has had.
“It makes it really enticing, I want to come back here and I want to win and I love playing netball and playing up here with such a successful culture.”
The defender emerged through the Queensland netball pathway like many of her Lightning teammates and cannot wait to be reunited.
“I’ve played with so many of these girls when I was really young, and they were the really experienced ones, so I’m excited to join them,” she said.
Hinchliffe said she is excited for the move to the Sunshine Coast and that the region holds a special place in her heart, with it being the destination of all of her childhood holidays.
“I’ve grown up coming here for family holidays – we’ve spent so much time up here – people are Sunny Coast or Gold Coast and I am definitely Sunny Coast at heart,” she said.
“To be able to live here and be by the beach, that lifestyle, it’s super special for my family and I know they will love to come and visit and watch me play.”