GOODEN SHOOTING FOR GREATER GOALS

Tiarne Swersky - August 14, 2017

Up-and-coming goaler Sam Gooden will return to Collingwood in 2018, after re-signing with the club as a training partner.

The 20-year-old made a big impression this season, after she filled in for the injured Cody Lange and shone next to star shooter Caitlin Thwaites in the Super Suncorp Netball (SSN).

“The experience I’ve had over the past year; it was just the best,” Gooden told Magpies Netball this week.

“The facilities, the professionalism, the people and the environment you’re surrounded by, it’s second to none.

“Being at Collingwood has helped me develop as a player and as a person too.”

2017 was an breakout season of sorts for Gooden, who produced some of the best netball of her young career.

Her efforts were recognized by winning the coaches award for her Australian Netball League (ANL) season with the Tasmanian Magpies, as well as being named in the 21/U Australian Youth squad.

It was a year that Gooden tributes to her development at the Holden Centre.

“This was my first proper exposure to professional sport.”

“I’m learning off people like Caity Thwaites, and being defended by Sharni Layton; the feedback they give me is invaluable. They care about my development and support me 100%.

“Being at the Holden Centre showed me the professionalism needed to be an athlete. It made me realise what I want to do.”

Growing up in a family of police officers, Gooden has always balanced her love of the academy and her netball career.

“I’ve actually started my application to be a police officer. I haven’t finished it, but the two things I’ve always wanted to do is be a netballer and a police officer.”

“I worked at the academy for two years, doing admin work. It was always a back up option in case things didn’t happen on the court for me this year.

“I’ll postpone (my application) for now, but it’s definitely where I see myself going after my netball career finishes.”

The police force will most likely be waiting a little while for Gooden’s services, after the goaler admitted she’s more determined than ever to take the SSN court once again.

“It was a dream to play at the elite level this season. The adrenaline rush and the crowd, it’s just surreal.”

“I’ll never forget when I made my first goal. I looked at my teammates and they were just smiling and cheering me on.

“At quarter-time, Ash Brazill came and gave me the biggest high five, and that made me feel like I just belonged at this level.”

Ahead of the 2018 season, Gooden will learn from not one, but two of the game’s most decorated shooters in Caitlin Thwaites and Collingwood’s new recruit, Erin Bell.

“They are both different players and I know if I can play both in attack and as shooter, I’ll be able to use some of their strengths.”

“Caity is so physical in the game, and for me to be able to learn how to hold a position myself and use my voice to demand the ball, is something I want to be better at.

“With Erin, I’ve grown up watching her play. I marvel at her confidence when she turns and shoots.”

But perhaps Gooden’s greatest praise was reserved for her fellow 2017 training partner and good friend Matilda Garrett – who after a standout year, was promoted to Collingwood’s senior squad.

“Tilly is one of a kind, and is one of the most humble and amazing people I’ve ever met. She is thoroughly deserving of her opportunity.”

“To have been a part of her journey from training partner to senior squad member this year, I’m so happy for her. She’s a superstar.

“For me personally, I now know it’s possible. I want to follow in Tilly’s footsteps and be able to one day make that transition.”

As for next season, there’s only one goal in mind for the budding shooter.

“To be the best player I can be and learn as much as I can from the players and coaches around me.”

“I want to be at that next level and I’m willing to put in the work to get myself there.”