Lightning Invests in the Future with Six Confirmed Training Partners

Sunshine Coast Lightning has identified a need to prioritize emerging Queensland talent in 2022, providing six athletes with training partner contracts.

The club have confirmed that Annie Lawrie, Ashlee Unie and Maddie Hinchliffe will remain at the club earlier this week as training partners.

Head Coach Kylee Byrne is excited to announce three new faces to Bridey Condren, Jada Gafa and Ava Black (pictured) who have also been invited to join Lightning’s Emerging Athletes Program.

The trio have impressed across a range of Queensland routes in recent years and will complete Lightning’s roster for 2022.

Byrne said she was excited about the caliber of talent Lightning is bringing to her schedule this season and praised each of the individuals and what they can bring.

“This year it was important to have strong coverage in all areas of the field for our training partner positions,” said Byrne.

“We also identified the need to build a strong core group underneath who will hopefully wear the Lightning dress in the future.

“Ultimately this experience is about exposing this group of talented athletes to a daily training environment and challenging and educating them on what a Suncorp Super Netballer does and how they prepare.

“Our goal is to close the gap below in this very important training group and see who raises their hands for future opportunities.”

Black, a member of Australia’s U19 squad, landed his first training partner contract after impressing the Queensland miners teams and the recent Born to Shine series Sapphires team.

Known for her athleticism and size, Black can cover all three center court positions after a change to cover wing defense in 2021 as well.

“Ava has raw, untapped talent and athleticism that will thrive and develop very quickly in this environment,” Byrne said.

“She is so eager to learn and soak up everything, she has integrated perfectly”.

She was also named the 2020 Sapphire Series MVP after a stellar season.

Gafa is a 179cm attacking midfielder who has extensive experience in the Sapphire League for the Carina Leagues Tigers and Bond Bull Sharks.

She represented Queensland Fusion on several occasions in the former Australian Netball League, before joining the Lightning Australian Netball Championships team in 2021.

“I’ve been watching Jada since she was 16 and have always admired her natural play and instinct,” Byrne said.

“As an attacking center court, she has this incredible ability to easily find space and finish with punctual feed.

“It will be a huge learning curve for Jada, but I know she will handle it with flying colors.”

Condren will cover defenders in the Lightning circle, with the talented Queenslander having already made her Suncorp Super Netball debut in 2020 for West Coast Fever as an injury replacement in mid-state.

The goalkeeper / goalkeeper was also part of Lightning’s ANC squad which took part in a Queensland regional tour earlier this year.

“When you look at defenders there has to be a half-breed element that can’t be taught and Bridey has it in spades,” Byrne said.

“She is another athlete who has had her day in the track but is now ready to test herself and work in a high performance environment so we can all see what she is capable of.”

The increase from four to six training partners will bring many benefits to these individuals and the entire team, while ensuring increased injury coverage throughout the season.

Milton S. Rodgers