Natalie Medhurst agreed she has come a long way since playing on the courts at Millicent Football and Netball Club - in the Western Border League – teams are on both sides of the South Australian border.
“I’d play netball on the Saturday, sometimes in Victoria, we then had trials for state teams and if I made the squad I would obviously have to travel to Adelaide,” Medhurst said.
Despite being born in Warracknabeal, Victoria, Medhurst classes herself as a South Australian.
Her family moved to Millicent in the South East of South Australia when she was just three years old.
“I could have trialled for Victoria because of my birth place, but I always went for SA teams,” Medhurst continued.
“Sometimes I’ve wondered what I’d be doing and where I would be if I tried to make it in Victoria, but I still see myself as a South Australian.
“It’s where I grew up and started playing my netball career and my family is all still there.”
Medhurst developed as a netballer through her junior years and her talent was identified during her teen years when she was invited to train for the SA Underage squad.
“When I was in the Under 16's age group, we would do an eight-hour round trips for two hours training on a Sunday - and it was like that for two years,” The former Matrics state league player explained.
“It was generally my dad (Trevor) driving me.”
Her siblings, Anthony 33, Sonya 29 and Leah 27 all kept their parents Jo-Anna and Trevor busy whilst also running the Millicent Pub (Somerset Hotel Motel) which made the frequent trips from Millicent to Adelaide and back a demanding commitment.
“I think at the time, you don’t actually realize it as a kid what your parents are doing for you,” Medhurst continued.
“I guess it’s not until you grow up a bit and mature, you actually understand the commitment, it was pretty massive.
“With my parents flat out running the hotel it was a huge commitment on their part.
“I’m very fortunate because there a lot of kids out there, particularly country kids that have so much talent and for whatever reason distance, money or support they’re not able to have those opportunities.”
Medhurst confirmed her time in South East was an enjoyable part of her life.
“Growing up in the country was an absolute blast, I still have great friends there and people I keep in contact with at the club that I grew up playing with,” she said.
“My family has a strong association down there and the support I get from them is still second to none. “I’m a proud South Aussie and it’s great to see SA doing well at Nationals, even though I’m living in Perth I’m still cheering for them.”
She first appeared on the big stage in 2004 when she replaced Jacqui Delaney at the Adelaide Thunderbirds who were then in the National competition the Commonwealth Bank Trophy.
“I remember Nat and Laura von Bertouch were the players that took me under their wing they got me out in early morning sessions,” Medhurst smiled.
“They had me running with them although I was about 10kms behind them, they are who I learnt a lot from.
“My work ethic and my standards are very high.
“I know I probably drive a lot of people a bit nuts with that (including my husband) and I definitely think it’s what I learnt from those two girls.
“How hard they push themselves when no one is watching and that for me highlights how great a player is that the things they do when they aren’t being watched.
“For me, those standards is what continues to push me to want to be better and to be able to play a small role in the Team’s success.
“It would be nice to wish that success happens easily but it doesn’t and I’m always trying to make sure I’m putting myself in the best position to succeed.“
From there it took just three years before she was playing for her country at the 2007 World Championships being part of the gold medal winning team.
In 2008 Adelaide Thunderbirds appointed Jane Woodlands-Thompson as head coach for the inaugural 2008 ANZ Championship (Trans Tasman League) season and they finished third, Medhurst scored 326 goals from 361 attempts at 90.3 per cent shooting accuracy.
The following season Medhurst again produced amazing individual statistics, she was the League’s ninth leading scorer and second best shooting accuracy percentage within the top ten leading goal scorers - scoring 341 goals from 400 attempts (85.3%).
She also had a whopping 281 centre pass receives (second in the League) and 73 goal assists in a team that went deep into the finals eventually losing the Grand Final to the Melbourne Vixens With form like that for a goal attack/ shooter and with the team being so close to title success, Thunderbirds supporters would of thought they’d be doing everything they could to keep Medhurst but instead she was shocked to hear the news when contract renewals for 2010 were due.
“I was told that I wasn’t a priority player for the club at the end of 2009,” Medhurst mused.
“I never ever thought I'd leave the club and was extremely disappointed & upset with what happened.
“That entire year (2009) was definitely a difficult one for me & I had certainly felt targeted with a few things across the season.
“Whilst it took time, I’ve moved on and happy with where I am.
“I’ve learnt a lot about myself and I’m very grateful for the career that I’ve had and continue to have.
“I never thought I would leave Adelaide it was a club where I started and had made great friendships.”
“There are certainly things that you miss about where you lived and that’s where my family live (in Adelaide).
“I miss my friends and there are certain family events that you miss out on - that’s what I really miss.
“Life away from netball is really good for both me and Travis (husband).
“But I absolutely love it over here in Perth, I love the beach and last year was pretty tough netball wise but love living here.
NATALIE MEDHURST AWARDS & STATS
1x ANZ Championship MVP 2011
1x ANZ Championship Title - Queensland Firebirds
2x Gold Medals - World Championships 2007, 2011
1x Gold Medal - Commonwealth Games 2014
1x Silver Medal - Commonwealth Games 2010
1x Bronze Medal - World Netball Series Fast 5 Competition
2x Tanya Denver Medals 2006 & 2007
2x The Advertiser Player of the Year Awards 2006 & 2007
1x Queensland Firebirds MVP 2012
1x West Coast Fever MVP 2015
Team - Position - Season - Goals/Attempts - Shooting Percentage - Centre Pass Receives - Goal Assists
AT 3rd 2008- 326/361 90.3%
AT 2nd 2009- 341/400 85.3% 281cpr 73ga
QF 5th 2010- 287/354 81.1% 235cpr 98ga
QF 1st 2011- 338/404 83.7% 256cpr 141ga
QF 6th 2012- 260/313 83.1% 226cpr 127ga
QF 2nd 2013- 261/318 82.1% 290cpr 207ga
WC 9th 2014- 194/243 79.8% 219cpr 133ga
WC 5th 2015- 197/229 86.0% 293cpr 148ga
Images- David Callow / Netball Australia