RAINBOW SHINES IN MAGPIES DEBUT

Tiarne Swersky - April 4, 2018

Opportunities come and go.

Just ask Tasmanian netballer, Kelsie Rainbow.

At just 21 years of age, the dynamic wing attack has already been exposed to the highs and lows of elite sport as she continues to chase her netball dream.

But during a recent pre-season trip to Tasmania, Rainbow’s dream took one step further into becoming a reality as she made her debut for the Collingwood Magpies.

“It’s been a long journey for me, but to get on court for the SSN Magpies in front of my hometown crowd was an unbelievable feeling,” Rainbow said.

Born and raised in Winnaleah, Tasmania – a town of 225 or so people – Rainbow climbed through the junior netball ranks, impressing state and national selectors along the way.

In 2015, the mid-courter made the big move to Melbourne, in a bid to pursue a professional career in netball, as well as continue her educational studies.

But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the Tasmanian native, as a two-year battle with knee tendinopathy threatened to end her dream of playing netball at the highest level.

Ever resilient and determined to work her way back on court, Rainbow returned to netball, and became just the third Tasmanian player to ever be selected to a national world youth squad.

After strong seasons with the Monash University Storm in the Victorian Netball League, Rainbow signed with the Vixens as a training partner in 2017, before joining the Tasmanian Magpies’ program ahead of the 2018 Australian Netball League season.

And as the Collingwood Magpies and the Tasmanian Magpies ventured to Hobart and Launceston to compete in Netball Tasmanian’s TNIS tournament over the weekend, Rainbow’s hard work began to pay dividends after she was given an opportunity to showcase her game on the big stage.

Set to play for the Tasmanian Magpies against Wales in the first match up, Rainbow was told by the coaching panel that she would make her debut for the Collingwood Magpies in the second game against Wales.

With family, friends and a local crowd expecting to see her in action for the Tassie Magpies, Rainbow lined up for both programs, playing a half of each game against Northern Ireland and Wales for the Collingwood Magpies.

“You always aspire to play at the top level, so to get the opportunity to do it, particularly in front of my home crowd; that was a special moment for me and one I’ll never forget.”

“The pace of the game was definitely faster, so it took me a little bit of time to adjust, but once I found the rhythm and movement of the game, I channelled my excitement and settled into the game.”

For Kristy Keppich-Birrell, telling Rainbow that she’d be making her Magpies Netball debut was one of her proudest moments as Collingwood coach.

“Kelsie earnt that opportunity because of the work she has put in during her time as a Tasmanian Magpies player,” Keppich-Birrell said.

“I was so proud of her. She was in one of my 15/U teams, alongside Alice Teague-Neeld, so to see those two lining up in WA and GA respectively was pretty exciting for me as a coach.

“As a Victorian-based Tasmanian Magpie, Kelsie has had the chance to come into the Holden Centre and work alongside our SSN players in the gym and on court, and she hasn’t missed a beat.

“Her skill set is right up there with the best so I had a lot of confidence in her when we made the decision to inject her into the SSN line up in Tasmania.”

Rainbow didn’t just catch the eyes of her coaching staff, but she also impressed her Collingwood teammates.

“Kelsie is a hard-working player and a genuine person, and she didn’t take this opportunity for granted,” Ash Brazill said of Rainbow after playing with her in Tasmania.

“She made a seamless transition into the SSN program and she gelled so well with the team on and off the court.

“I was so impressed with her defensive game and she made a strong impact when she was on court, so I hope she gets more opportunities in the future because she’s a great talent.”

Rainbow will be a key to the Tasmanian Magpies’ 2018 campaign, as they look to better their sixth-place finish in the ANL from last year.

The Tasmanian Magpies will kick off its season on May 5 in Perth, when they come up against the Western Sting.