Is this the best netball side Coffs has ever seen?
IN THE boxing world, the phrase 'pound for pound' refers to the way the top fighters across multiple divisions are compared, if there were an equivalent in netball - this Coffs Harbour side might be up there with the best.
The Coffs Harbour Netball Association's Under 15s continue to defy stereotypes around age and experience to conquer teams who boast superiority in both.
On Sunday they travelled to Port Macquarie to compete in the Regional League carnival and were placed in the highest division, facing off against the best sides in the Under 17 and Opens age group.
Remarkably, with a squad of just eight they placed third.
Coach of the side for the last four years, Nikkia Humphries, said she was extremely proud of the girls, who continue to show passion and commitment while up against sides from older age groups.
"Last year as Under 14s they played in the Under 17 division and they won that, so then this year we were moved up into division one," she said.
"They work extremely hard and play with a lot of passion out there."
Last year the talented side also came equal first in the second division at the State Titles, playing some of the best teams from around NSW.
A Coffs Harbour netball insider credits the success not only to the extremely talented squad, but the "exceptional" Humphries, in what is her first head coaching role since stepping up from an assistant.
But the modest coach points to the closeness of the group, who have been together since they were 12.
"We are such a close knit group, (including) players, coaching staff and managers. They have had a really good core group and have a really close bond with each other," Humphries said.
"I have been extremely lucky as a young coach coming through to have a team that is so committed and willing to learn.
"They push me as much as I push them I think, so it has been really good to have such a great group of girls."
Modesty aside, Humphries has been instrumental in taking a talented crop of youngsters and moulding them into a formidable side, with five becoming part of the North Coast Academy of Sport.
A sixth squad member was scouted to be part of an emerging talent program in Queensland.
The team is now looking ahead to the State Championships in Sydney, despite a cloud of uncertainty surrounding the competition due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"It all depends on the restrictions, but they are still working hard because they are hoping that instead of equal first - they are hoping to take it out."