Sport

Lilly Waasdorp – Tongala’s teen machine

By Brayden May

She might just be a teenager but at 14 Lilly Waasdorp is very much the face of Tongala netball’s future. Already a senior and league player she is determined to remain in blue and to become the best player she can be. She spoke to BRAYDEN MAY about what motivates her to always wear a big smile no matter how the game is going

PERFECTIONISM is a heavy burden; for a 14-year-old it could be overwhelming.

But rising Tongala netball sensation Lilly Waasdorp believes micro management of every detail will help her get where she wants to go.

To the top.

And the writing is clearly on the wall, the barely-teen has already made her A grade debut and coach Caddison Mulholland is making no secret of her high hopes for Lilly circa 2020-2025.

If we’re honest we all know we’re going to make mistakes, but those of us with any get up and go try hard to avoid them.

But mistakes, in a sporting sense, can be immediately pivotal as they can change a result in a heartbeat.

Players will always be judged for their mistakes whether it be by their coach, teammates, or supporters.

Yet often our most critical judge can be ourselves.

Waasdorp is happy to put her hand up and confess to being a netball perfectionist – refusing to allow errors to creep into her game.

“I’m always putting pressure on myself to do the basics right, if I’m making simple mistakes I feel like the whole team will suffer,” she explained.

“Sometimes I can be a little too hard on myself but you need to judge yourself if you want to become a better player.

“It’s all about keeping your head up if you do make a mistake and focus on the next play.

“I’ve been taught to be resilient on the court because you don’t want to make the same mistake twice.”

The pressure which Waasdorp places on herself has gradually grown but it took a major leap this year after she decided to make the step up to A grade.

After several appearances in 2018 Waasdorp decided she was ready for the challenge fulltime.

“I don’t think it’s a decision I’ll ever regret,” she admitted with a smile. “With all the support from the girls, it made it an easy transition.

“No one put any pressure on me to say that I had to stop playing with girls who are my age.

“I thought it was the best decision for me as a person and a player to try and get the best out of myself.”

From the first time she held a netball to now, Waasdorp has had plenty of guidance from coaches who understand exactly what she needs.

The latest is Mulholland, who Waasdorp describes as “a great role model”.

“In a short space of time, she has already taught me a lot,” she added.

“She just wants me to enjoy my netball most of all. I’ve been able to ease into the team easily with her aid. Without her I don’t think I would have coped as well.”

Despite her tender age, Waasdorp is already on the way to becoming a star at the goal attack position.

Her position on the court is arguably one of the most difficult as players are asked to often act between the link between defence and attack.

“You always need to be on the move otherwise you become easy to defend against,” Waasdorp said.

“I’ve discovered the A grade girls do a really good job of blocking up space so my running patterns have had to change in order for me to work my way into a game.

“Some weeks are harder than others, but that’s the challenge I’m always going to face as I get older.”

Throughout the club, there is plenty of support for the next generation of senior netballers.

In recent years, Tonny has made it clear they want to develop within their own four walls as they look to build towards the ultimate success.

Although Waasdorp is a senior netballer at present, the community vibe around Tongala is what makes her want to remain a Blue.

“Tongala is like my second home,” she said.

“You walk around the club and you’re always greeted by friendly faces.

“As a team we have a really close connection, being happy in your team surroundings is possibly the most important thing in netball.”

Away from her home courts Waasdorp is forging quite the name for herself.

Earlier this year she was selected in a Murray Netball League representative team for the third consecutive season.

“You always want to test yourself against the best players,” Waasdorp said.

“I think the best part is being able to learn different ways of playing netball.

“Having the ability to switch your style only makes you a better player.”

At a senior level, Waasdorp admits to being more reserved when it comes to providing feedback to her senior teammates.

But when she has the opportunity to guide those of a similar age, she takes it in her stride.

“I like to encourage all the girls because staying positive is the best thing for the team,” she said.

“Using my voice to guide girls into position is a big part of my game and in the future I would love to be someone the team can lean on for support.”

In sport, family is often your biggest supporter and for the Waasdorp family it is no different.

The names of the four children run deep throughout Tongala.

Lilly’s brothers Bailey (now at the Bendigo Pioneers) and Dylan have spent time in the club’s junior progam, while Abbey has joined her sister on the netball courts.

“Being at the same club means we all get to support each other,” she said.

“My parents didn’t know much about netball before Abbey and I started playing.

“The best part for me is that it’s brought us closer together as a family.”

When Waasdorp does take to the court she always has a smile on her face – and that’s what it’s all about for her as a player.

“I just want to keep trying my best,” she explained. “Facing these new challenges is bringing the best out in me.”