Sport

Queen of comebacks makes the big leagues

By Brayden May

JUST three years ago Faith Butt’s life was being measured by the hour.

Today, as it should have always been, the sky is her only limit.

Faith has been the pinup girl of recovery following her terrifying injury after falling 10m from a Grampians cliff in 2016.

In 2019, she crowned that comeback with an A grade netball debut for Mathoura, just a year after she made a most unlikely return to the court.

“When I am back on the court at Mathoura Netball Football Club (my recovery will be complete),” Faith said in February 2017, just days out of hospital.

With her under 17s enjoying a week off, Faith thought her Saturday afternoon would be the same just without a game – umpiring the minis game before scoring for the senior grades.

But A grade coach Rohan Starkey had other ideas, recruiting Faith to add depth to his line-up.

“I didn’t even have my uniform, so I had to wear mum’s,” Faith laughed.

“When Rohan asked me, I thought I was going to be sitting on the bench just in case anything happened.

“It was really exciting to get on the court in the last quarter because I’ve always wanted to play with the senior girls.”

When Faith did take her latest big step, mum Barb Cox and sister Holly were there.

Although mum couldn’t cheer as loud as she would have liked, given she was umpiring the match.

“It was hard to try and hold back the tears,” Barb said.

“Emotions were high among the crowd, there were a few people crying when they realised what was happening.

“As a parent you have gone from hearing your daughter could die to seeing her doing something that looked impossible at the time of the accident.

“She is our walking miracle.”

Along the way to her A grade debut, Faith had been forced to adapt her game.

Whether it had been passing the ball with both hands – due to a lack of strength to throw a one-handed pass – or wearing gloves to keep her hands sufficiently warm – Faith has continued to clear every hurdle.

“My gloves make me feel like I’m a professional,” Faith said.

“They give me a sense of personality and they’ve become a part of me. I’ve had to do a lot of hard work but it was all worth it to get back out on the court.”

Throughout Faith’s journey back to sport the Mathoura Football Netball Club has been right by her side.

Whether it was a simple hello when she walked past, or a phone call to check in on how she was progressing, Mathoura was living up to its promise of being a family club.

“They have been amazing through every minute,” Faith explained.

“Going to netball for training or games is something I always look forward to because everyone understands me.

“They don’t treat me any differently because of what happened and I wouldn’t be here without them.”

Faith’s A grade game was just another small step in what has been an extraordinary 2019 for the 16-year-old.

Away from Mathoura, she continues to go from strength-to-strength in everyday life taking on many of the challenges she faces independently – a trait her mother admires.

“Faith has goals, just like any other person,” Barbara said.

“She is unstoppable when she puts her mind to achieving them, you almost feel like no one can get in her way.

“That’s why she has been able to come through everything up until today.”

One of Faith’s goals was to get her L plates – and she wasn’t just expecting to walk in and pass the test, she was determined to pass it with flying colours, keeping all of her wrong answers from practice tests in a folder.

“I had certainly doubted myself when I finally did the licence test,” Faith said.

“But it was such an amazing feeling when I was given the result; it meant that all of my hard work had really paid off.

“I can drive like a normal 16-yearold.”

Just like other teenagers, Faith has been faced with a battle to balance her time between school and extracurricular activities.

But even your time outside school commitments can often need it’s own balancing, with Faith playing Mrs Lynch in Moama Anglican Grammar’s production of the smash-hit musical Grease.

Faith played a starring role in her first on stage role since the Grampians incident.

“It was certainly a lot of fun,” she said.

“I got a real buzz when I walked out onto the stage in front of an audience for the first time.

‘‘That’s when it felt like the real thing for me — and I really enjoyed the feeling.

“Everyone I worked with was really encouraging which made me a lot more confident.

“I made sure that I also used my best American accent because I wanted to sound proper.

‘‘For me it was all about doing everything just the same way as the professionals do.”

With all that behind her, Faith is now beginning to look forward, forward to her life as an adult – settling in at her first job as an office clerk for a local business.

While she may only be taking part in a trial period – working across different hours after school – the responsibility is playing a big role in her development.

“And I think it is going really well,” Faith said.

“I’m really looking forward to spending more time there because I’m learning something different all the time.

“But the best thing is the routine that it has given me.”

The Mathoura young gun will take another major step forward next month, when she is scheduled to return to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne — not as a patient but as a presenter, to speak at a trauma conference.

Her mother Barb and father Phil had spoken at the same event last year, and as they retold their daughter’s story the tears started to flow in the audience.

But now, with Faith set to be the one behind the microphone to tell her own story, it’s highly likely there won’t be a dry eye in the room by the time she is finished.

“It’s a small gesture to make,” she said.

“I want to be able to thank everyone who helped me get to where I am today. Without their desire to help me, I wouldn’t be here.

“They helped me become who I am. “Now I still have lots of dreams I want to share with them.”