Setbacks Pivotal to Ravaillion's Success
Queensland Firebirds young gun Kim Ravaillion knows that you don’t give up on your dream.
Still just 22, the Australian centre court player’s had an incredible run of success.
Her accolades include ANZ Championship, a Netball World Cup and a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal.
All this may never have come to fruition if the former Sydney raised junior had walked away from the game after being twice overlooked for a New South Wales underage team.
A 175cm personal trainer, Ravaillion grew up just outside of Parramatta in Sydney, playing sports such as Tennis, Touch Football and Soccer, but her abiding passion was netball and she followed this dream.
She attended Yennora Public School before attending Chester Hill High School and then onto Westfield Sports High School in Year 10, becoming a part of their netball program.
Ravaillion played for the Hotshots Netball Club in the Fairfield City District Netball Association.
This lead her to Representative Netball for the association, it was at this point when she was over looked for the NSW Under 17's team in successive years.
"I missed out not once, but twice on the Under 17’s NSW national team," Ravaillion said.
"The first time I missed out I was okay about it, I knew I had a lot of things to improve fitness/health, strength and netball skills.
"The next year I worked on certain aspects of my game and improved in my fitness levels. I thought I was definitely in the team that year (2010).
"At trials I had a lot of people whispering in my ear saying you’re in you were awesome, so I felt OK I must have played well I got my hopes up.
"That next morning I woke up early to hop onto the netball NSW website and see my name on the list of 12 girls that were selected but my name wasn’t there.
“I refreshed thinking they must of missed me, refresh… Refresh and nothing, my name wasn’t there.
“Immediately I start to tear up.”
Disappointed and thinking of maybe throwing in her childhood dream of playing Netball at the highest level, Ravaillion's dad, Warren gave her some advice she will never forget and something she looks back on now as a turning point in her career.
"I remember speaking to my mum (Sina) and dad saying maybe this isn’t the path for me or maybe I’m just not good enough," she said.
"He said the simplest words to me!
“He said do you love it?
“I replied ‘Yeah, I wouldn’t be so hurt if I didn’t.
He said ‘Well there’s your answer mate don’t give up have another go your only 17!
"I cried the whole day but from that day on I flicked a switch.
“I made a promise to myself that I would work on every damn thing to make damn sure my name was in that list next year.
"I wanted to prove that I was good enough to be in the team that year! I wanted to prove everyone wrong.
"Following on from that devastating time I did extras in the gym, if one set wasn’t good enough I’d do it again.
“I did extra court sessions and I even did extra running sessions but my area wasn’t very safe to run around, so I ran around my backyard which mind you wasn’t very big! But I did."
Her decision to work even harder to force her selection in the NSW Under 19's squad was testament to her as a netballer but more so as a person at the age of 18.
Ravaillion was then chosen for the Australian Under 19 team she was then surprisingly selected in the Australian Diamonds team in England and received her first test cap in 2013 and incredibly was still yet to play an ANZ Championship game.
"Joining the Australian team was really scary at the time but it was really lovely they all introduced themselves and I was just trying to hold back the smile and play it cool," she laughed.
Three time World Cup winner and Australian team mate Nat Medhurst has found memories of Ravaillion first arriving at the Firebirds.
“I remember when Rav first came on the scene at the Firebirds,” Medhurst explained.
“We always start pre-season with fitness testing and I just remember both herself and our other new recruit Gabi Simpson sprinting through those gates... they just had so much speed!
“She certainly got thrown in the deep end and it can be quite a risky thing in terms of how they respond, do they get complacent etc but it is a credit to ‘Rav’ and her attitude on how she has gone about her business continuing to push herself and establish her position.
“Whilst she has always had the speed, her conditioning to last a full game at high intensity week in week out needed a bit of work and we now definitely see that part of her game as one of her biggest strengths.
“As we all tend to do as athletes, we cop a lot of criticism from people and particularly as a young player coming through it can have an impact if you listen to what is said by the commentators and "arm chair" experts.
“I remember saying to her and Gabi, ‘If you're watching a replay where you may not have played your best or even if you have, turn the commentary off!’
“It's easy to get sucked into the nice things outside people say but just as easy to then get affected by the negative stuff.
“Rav certainly has surrounded herself with a great support group both in and out of netball and asks questions from those around her to help improve.
“Over the past 12-18 months I've definitely seen Rav now being more confident in her position in the Diamonds environment & she uses her voice to pass on feedback & to continue to improve the units she works within.
“Off the court, she is a very down to earth girl who is very close with her family and enjoys being with her friends, loves the beach, staying active... oh and loves a good dance!
“At the tender age of 22, (along with Madi Robinson rejoining the Squad following injury last year) she is now our most experienced midcourter.
“On court she is one of those players who you know will leave absolutely nothing left in the tank. Her ability to read the play, be just as strong in defence as she is in attack and to control the tempo through the mid court has developed over the years and makes my connection with her in to the attack line an easy one.
Normally there would be plenty of offers on the table for the Nation's Centre Position player but unbelievably only one ANZ Championship team offered Ravaillion a contract, the Queensland Firebirds.
What makes this more surprising is how someone with Ravallion's talent could escape so easily from her home state of NSW without even being offered a contract.
She has a passion for fitness and health and could very well be the world's fittest netballer.
Her work ethic earned her an unforgettable past 12 months.
She won a gold medal at the 2015 Netball World Cup, an ANZ Championship with Queensland and was chosen in the 2015 All Star Team.
"Winning the ANZ Championship last year is my career highlight for sure," she said.
"But only because we had come runners up two years in a row and to finally win it was awesome and winning the World Cup was the cherry on top."
Ravaillion explained that while losing a pair Grand Finals in a row hurt, it was in the back of their minds as they played the 2015 Grand Final.
"Losing the past two Grand Finals was always in the back of our heads, but last year we had an awesome culture and everyone bought in and it was such a great environment to be around," Ravaillion continued.
"Things like training was the fun part of our day and we were all just driving towards this one goal and always had the losses of 2013 and 2014 in our heads but were third time lucky in 2015.
"Throughout the season you don't really think about it you just plod along, tick it off game by game and this year we are not getting too big for our boots because that's never good for anyone, we are doing the little things right and focusing on that."
Ravaillion comes to Adelaide this Saturday ready to create her team's own piece of history should they be victorious over the Thunderbirds.
At 16 wins in row, The Firebirds are currently one win away from the longest ever winning streak in ANZ Championship history which will eclipse the record set by Adelaide over the 2013/14 seasons.
The streak is spoken among the group however Ravaillion explains it’s just another game this week.
"We just focus on game by game and doing all those little things right and then that will get you the win," Ravaillion said.
"They are the underdogs at the moment with the amount of injuries they've had which is unfortunate for them but we are just going to treat them as any other team, we won’t take them lightly and know that they will come out all guns blazing and give it their all.”
She may already reached the pinnacle of the sport but the talented youngster is striving for more.
"I could retire!" she laughs.
"No, I want to eventually captain Australia and do it all again so that's my next goal to be the leader."
Ravaillion is adamant that she has become an AFL Supporter due to Firebirds house mate Gretel Tippett (sister of AFL Star Kurt Tippett), despite her growing up in Rugby League territory in Sydney.
"Living with Gretel has made me learn a lot about AFL so I follow that now," Ravaillion said.
"I don't like watching Rugby League as much as AFL, I just feel like AFL is a lot like netball."
But if it wasn't for netball, the Aussie young gun believes she would be riding horses out on a farm or fishing!
ANZ CHAMPIONSHIP Round 4:
Thunderbirds v Firebirds from 4:30pm Saturday April 23 at Priceline Stadium.
Image Credit- David Callow, Netball Australia & Netball Queensland