Ash Brazill opens up on her injury-free & career-best season with the Magpies.
What a difference one year can make.
For Magpies defender Ash Brazill, it’s one that has been life changing.
After making the difficult decision to leave the West Coast Fever after five years of service, Brazill joined Collingwood in a bid to reinvigorate her career.
But her first taste of life at the Holden Centre wasn’t exactly what she was expecting.
After eight years of playing at the elite level, the 27-year-old was told the way she was walking and running, was wrong.
Even something as simple as her everyday stance would have to be corrected.
Better yet, the news had come in the form of the club’s physio, doctor and strength and condition coach – of whom she’d just met.
“At the age of 27, when you get told you’re standing wrong, it’s pretty confronting,” Brazill told Magpies Netball this week.
The stark assessment of her most natural movements came as she was recovering from major knee surgery, which she had to correct a string of injuries that had troubled her at the Fever.
“After the surgery, I was told I’d be back on court in three months.”
“When that time passed, it was close to my first day at Collingwood. But in that first week, I was told I’d be held back and they assumed I wouldn’t be playing until round three.
“It was a bit of a slap in the face to hear that.”
Left to rehabilitate in the gym with teammate Cody Lange – who was recovering from her own serious knee injury at the time – Brazill looked to turn frustration into motivation.
“Being off the court was a big struggle for me. I hate being injured. I don’t like seeing other people do what I want to do being.”
“I was lucky that I had Cody as a rehab buddy. We really pushed each other in ways that you can’t be pushed on a netball court.”
With Brazill and Lange out of action, as well as the five Australian Diamonds girls who were away on international duties, the Magpies were left with only three players who could train on court.
“To see Shae (Brown), Micaela (Wilson) and Alice (Teague-Neeld) working really hard, it was tough not to be out there with them.”
“I started building my running up on the side of the court, but it was challenging. I had the physio in my ear trying to correct my technique as I ran.
“At the start, I was receptive to it. But as the weeks go by, you start to hear the same thing, and you feel like you’re not improving.
“There were times when I was out on court crying because I didn’t want to hear ‘lift your knees’ one more time.”
With months of preseason training behind her, as well a new found approach to walking, running and standing, Brazill lined up for the Magpies in round one, and would go on to have her first injury-free season in years.
“To see how my body reacted throughout the season, I’m so glad I did take the time to put in the work, and I’m glad I trusted the people that I’d just met.”
“The techniques I’ve learnt have helped me far beyond just walking and running.
“I now have the trust in my body and I’m confident I can play at this level for another few years.
“The people at Collingwood, they care about you. It goes beyond the player you are on court, but it’s also about your life after netball.
“That’s one thing that is so different about this club. They would rather me be running around with my kids one day, rather than seeing me wreck my body on court.”
Not only was it an injury-free season for Brazill, but it was one of the best in her career.
The four-time Diamonds mid-courter starred in wing defence for her new club, and had many putting her name up for a return to the national squad.
And although that didn’t come to fruition, Brazill will still don the green and gold this year, having been named to represent Australia in the Fast5 World in October.
“It was exciting to get the news, but I was also disappointed not to make the Diamonds.”
“I had to deal with two different emotions. I was upset for not making one squad, but I was so excited to make the other. It’s a different format of the game, and it’s a game that I love.
“I’m excited to be working with my former Fever coach, Stacey Marinkovich (head coach of Australia’s Fast5 squad) and former teammate Nat Medhurst, who I love and respect so much.”
Through all the trials and tribulations of the past 12 months, there’s one thing that has surfaced for Brazill.
She’s learnt to love netball again.
“For me, it was a lifestyle change moving to Melbourne. It was more than netball. It’s worked out for me in the best way possible, both on and off the court.”
“I was told two years ago that I’d never squat again, and now I’m squatting 120 kilos. That is something that I never thought would be possible to do ever again.
“As an athlete, you want to find ways to challenge yourself, and I’ve found that at Collingwood.”
You can come see Ash Brazill in action for Australia at the Fast5 Netball World Series. Tickets are available at Ticketek.