Sport

Benalla is home for Bridget Hill

By Meg Saultry

For Bridget Hill, Benalla is home.

And it is this love of the Saints that drives Hill, 22, to commute more than two hours from Bendigo every weekend to play netball with her childhood club.

‘‘I grew up at the Saints, my father coached there,’’ Hill said.

‘‘And I like coming home and seeing my family.’’

Hill did not play for the Saints last year, but her homecoming season means she has got to play with her younger sister Chloe, 19, for the first time.

‘‘It’s nice to play with Chloe this season,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m enjoying bossing her around.’’

The sisters were teamed up in the Saints’ defence at the start of the year — Bridget in goal keeper and Chloe in goal defence — but a recent line-up change has led to Bridget moving to the other end of the court into goal attack.

It is not an unusual role for Hill though, who played her under-17 career in attack, before transitioning into defence once she was elevated to A-grade.

And it is Hill’s aggressive game style that makes her a perfect suit for the role.

‘‘Not to toot my own horn, but I think I’m pretty tough,’’ she said with a laugh.

‘‘There hasn’t been a strong shooter at the Saints for a while.

‘‘And strength-wise, I can hold my own.’’

But the move down court has not been without its challenges, though Hill said teaming up with Mikayla Lessing in goals had made the transition easier.

‘‘It was pretty challenging at the start,’’ she said.

‘‘In goal keeper, you don’t tend to run as much.’’

Hill said fitness was her biggest priority.

But as a property manager in Bendigo, Hill can’t attend trainings and so has set about working out at the gym every night.

And with four A-grade players, including Hill, living away from Benalla this season, it has made for an unconventional set-up at the Saints this season, with weekday trainings near impossible.

‘‘It was really difficult at the start of the season to jell,’’ Hill said.

‘‘We’ve been using our warm-ups to get some training in. But we’ve been able to jell as the season goes.’’

Benalla’s slower start to the season means it sits in eighth place, with a 4-9 record.

But the Saints are making major strides and last round took it right up to top four side the Shepparton Swans.

‘‘We were only a couple goals down at half-time,’’ Hill said.

‘‘We were the underdogs. But we just tried to make it as difficult as possible for them.

‘‘It was really good — it boosted our confidence.’’