AFTER more than 20 years in blue and white, South Mildura’s Demalza Henry says she’s ready to wrap up her netball career and take a step back.
The three-time premiership club legend, who will play her 250th A Grade game on July 10 against Mildura, says she’s been lucky to escape serious injury on the court and will see out the 2021 season before wrapping up her impressive netball career.
“I started with South in 1998 and initially started off as a goalie, but in my first few years with the club I sort of played anywhere because we didn’t really have a lot of numbers,” Henry said.
“I pretty much played wherever I was needed, mainly as a goalie right up until we won our first premiership (2009), then I changed to the wing and have stayed there since,”
Henry attributes her longevity to remaining “relatively injury-free”.
“It’s a long time retired, so I figured I’ll continue to play while I can … but I’m definitely looking at this being my last year,” Henry says.
“Both my husband (Mildura Heat playing coach Calvin Henry) and I are playing basketball, and we’ve both said this will be out last year in sport.
“I think it’s time for the younger ones to make their way through and give them a chance.”
Henry admits the juggling act between sporting commitments, work and family isn’t always easy.
“The older kids are good, they can pretty much look after themselves,” she said with a laugh.
“Both older girls play netball, so they help us out when I’m playing, looking after their younger sister, and they all just sort of follow us wherever they go … to trainings and games.
“Thursdays in our house are pretty full-on, with Calvin and I both training and me going straight from basketball to netball training.
“Calvin does the daycare pick up of our youngest, then we meet and do a swap-over. We’ve got the schedule pretty down-pat.”
Henry says the flexibility offered by South has been a contributing factor to her returning for the 2021 season.
“Because I’ve been at the club for so long, they were willing to be that bit more flexible and try and work in with my schedule, which is great and really supportive,” she says.
“When you’ve been a part of a club this long you really do build those life-long relationships and friendships and they end up being your family in a way.
“Both my basketball and netball coaches and teammates have been so supportive and flexible for me to do both (sports).”
Speaking about her most memorable moments, Henry says interleague games and winning premierships are at the top.
“Getting to play with all the girls who are normally your opposition is always a highlight, these are the best girls in the league and so that’s always memorable,” she says.
“The younger ones coming through now definitely show a different style of game to what we used to play, so that’s good.
“The game goes through those phases where it changes and it’s nice to be able to be a part of that progression.
“We’ve got some talented young girls coming through the ranks, but for me, the rest of the season will be us plugging away, hopefully making that finals position.”
Story and photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily