sports

The phone call that changed Australian Diamond Courtney Bruce's life.

This is the third instalment of Mamamia’s ‘Sport Siren’ series – where we will shine a spotlight on a brilliant Aussie athlete every single Saturday.

This is Courtney Bruce’s story…

Courtney Bruce tells me she doesn’t like phone calls all that much. As a stand-alone claim, this would be unremarkable, except for the fact we’re on the phone together when she tells me.

I laugh, and point it out. Okay, she concedes, in the past she hasn’t liked them, but she’s getting better.

And there’s probably a good reason why that is. At 23, Bruce is recognised as one of those cliched ‘up-and-comers’ on our Australian netball scene; a spotlight rests on her progress, expectations grow with every game she plays for Perth’s West Coast Fever.

And she’s receiving call after call from selectors telling her good news.

The first of these call-ups came from Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander last year. She wanted Bruce on the Diamond’s national training camp in Canberra.

“I hate talking on the phone,” Bruce reiterates. “It’s especially daunting talking to my Diamonds coach because I never know if it’ll be good or bad news.”

It would be one of the most important phone calls the then 22-year-old would receive, a dream offer for any young netballer across the country. And it was one she didn’t want to pick up.

“It was exciting, it was something I had wanted for a long time. I don’t remember much of the conversation, I just remember saying yes, yes, yes 100 times and thank you 100 times.”

Bruce was born in Perth and has played netball “for as long as she can remember”. From the age of about six, her parents threw her and her two younger sisters into the game. It would come to be a very clever move.

The gun defender’s break-out season came in 2016 when she managed to rattle some of the competition’s strongest goalers, earning her a spot in the Diamonds squad by the end of the year.

Game ✌????with these legends! #HeartSoulSweat @westcoastfeverofficial

A post shared by Courtney Bruce (@court.bruce) on

But it was running out with the girls in Round One of the re-branded Suncorp Super League that was especially memorable for the 23-year-old.

“It was a really good feeling,” she says, recalling those first few moments running onto the court. “It felt like a long time coming. There’s a lot of WA girls in the team and there was this big sense of pride, playing for our home state was so good.”

ADVERTISEMENT

And she’s not wrong. The league has been a long time coming, as has the exposure it has inevitably brought. Channel Nine have jumped on board, and some of our nation’s best athletes are getting the kind of attention they’ve always deserved.

And although women’s sport seems to be having a moment, it hasn’t always been the way.

“There’s been so much more exposure for us since Channel Nine came on board and since the league has been broadcast on free-to-air. The media has been more interested and that’s been huge.”

In comparison to most women’s sport, netball has never been short of talent. And despite the poor pay and the poor exposure the sport has received in the past, young netballers have never been short of a role model growing up.

A post shared by Courtney Bruce (@court.bruce) on

“There were always some phenomenal athletes to look up to, so growing up and wanting to be a netballer was never a problem.

“But for sure, it’s easier for young girls now, they know that can actually have a career in the sport, especially if it keeps going the way it is now.”

It’s great, and indeed we are talking more and more about women’s sport, but the fact I have to ask Bruce how she juggles completing university and playing sport for your country is telling. She’s currently trying to get through a psychology degree while trying to crack into the national team for one of the most popular sports in our country.

Her answer is simple: there’s never been another option.

“We’ve always been taught we have had to balance it all, even at the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport), because there’s no other option. I like having more on my plate, though. I don’t like having time to kill.

“Since my time at the AIS, we always had sessions on time management teaching us how to balance these things. Obviously, netball has come along way, but we’re still nowhere near where the men are at so we’ve always had to balance doing more than one thing.”

So now that so many more young girls will grow up believing they can play sport, what advice would she give them?

“To have fun and enjoy it,” she says. “I play my best when I’m loving it.”

In 2017, Mamamia is committed to covering all aspects on women’s sport. Check out more of our sports stories here

FROM OUR NETWORK
00:00 / ???