Rarely missing a finals series has helped Bree Hanslow reach 300 Goulburn Valley League games at such a young age.
Hanslow, 29, notches up the impressive milestone with Shepparton United tomorrow, having played her first A-grade game aged 14.
Her beginning came at Tongala when it was still part of the GVL, playing in the Blues’ 2002 premiership.
‘‘The first year I went there they won the premiership. I was the one on the bench cheering everyone on, it still counts — I still got the medal,’’ she said with a laugh.
Moving onto Kyabram when Tongala exited the GVL, Hanslow joined a side with players that would become some of the greatest of the next decade, with their influence continuing today.
‘‘It was different (at Kyabram), obviously at Tonny I was one of the young ones, but at Ky we started off with a diverse group and then we were very young for the later years when I was there. When I say young, I mean mainly my age so I played with Ash Mangan and Lauren Pryde and Steph O’Nial (now Vick) and all those girls who are still there. We were still 18 and all in high school,’’ she said.
Hanslow was part of the star-studded teams that took home the 2006 and 2008 premierships and won the 2007 Wellman Family Medal.
Playing state league netball in Melbourne at the same time, the midcourt ace nearly missed the medal count.
‘‘It was ages ago now, I remember I was meant to be at netball training in Melbourne and they kind of got into Mum’s ear and said you might want to stay around a little while, I wasn’t expecting it at all,’’ she said.
‘‘At that stage I was still pretty young and hadn’t scored that many votes before, so it was not on the radar that it was going to happen that year.’’
Hanslow’s mother Di has been a constant during her netball career.
Having spent her junior years playing at the Kyabram Netball Association, Di coached Bree at Kyabram as well as at the Demons.
But her mother has not been the only major influence on her career, with Bree naming a former United coach who played an important role in bringing her to Deakin Reserve.
‘‘I’ve been spoilt because obviously I’ve had mum who’s been very involved with netball from a young age, that’s good to get a head start with good coaches when you’re younger,’’ Hanslow said.
‘‘I’ve had some other great coaches with Adam Sloan and at VNL down there in (former Melbourne Vixens coach) Julie Hoornweg had Marg Lind.’’
Jenny Barlow and Tracey Brereton all coached Hanslow at an interleague level, where she said she has made some fantastic friends.
Having played in the GVL since 2002, the representative level still allowed the United netballer to become acquainted with some fresh faces.
‘‘It’s a great way to get everyone together, even last year some of the Seymour girls (were there), so it’s an awesome one to play and get to know some of the girls off the court,’’ Hanslow said.
‘‘It was great fun to get away with those girls and you mingle and that’s where I met most of the United girls.’’
At the Demons, Hanslow has contributed to two premierships, playing in the second of Shepparton United’s back-to-back wins in 2010 before experiencing the ultimate success again in 2014.
Each flag had its own charm, with last year the only season Hanslow can recall in her career that she did not play finals.
‘‘They’re (premierships) all different and all special, it’s just a different group of people and different dynamics which makes them all special and all unique in their own way,’’ she said.
‘‘They’re probably going to be rarer and rarer, as you get older you go ‘oh there might not be any more’ so they all get more special.’’
While only 29, Hanslow consistently refers to herself as old, but having been at the top tier for so long she has seen plenty of players pass through.
Kara Dawes, Kirsty Hommes and Kate Durling are all Demons stalwarts who she has played with since the first year, with Megan Trevaskis an A-grade player that Hanslow saw progress through the juniors.
Many coaches speak of their players’ versatility, but Hanslow is one that has been a specialist wing attack.
Having dabbled as a goaler while at Tongala, United saw a need for her to transfer into the centre.
‘‘Through the state program I ended up in wing attack and I play a lot more wing attack, and three or four years ago we didn’t have a centre at United, so I got given the bib and told to get fit and get used to running,’’ Hanslow said with a smile.
Just last week against Kyabram, Hanslow was given the job on reigning Wellman Family medallist Steph Vick, where she held her own against someone she regards as one of her toughest opponents.
The Demons will be looking to secure a win against Euroa at Deakin Reserve tomorrow to celebrate the major milestone as she looks towards the next.
‘‘It’s just fun, I think you’ve got forever not to play, so keep going while you can and keep going while you’re still competitive, that’s the main thing,’’ she said.
Bree Hanslow’s Goulburn Valley League achievements:
2007 Wellman Family medallist.
2002 premiership player at Tongala.
2006 and 2008 premiership player at Kyabram.
2006 player of the finals series.
2010 and 2014 premiership player at Shepparton United.