This weekend at Dower Park, Golden Square’s sharpshooter Jody Richards will clock up her 250th game for her beloved club Golden Square Football Netball Club against arch rivals Kangaroo Flat.
Jody has served Golden Square with distinction since moving from South Australia to Bendigo in 1997 after graduating as a podiatrist.
Despite interruptions due to injury and the birth of her three daughters Jody will now notch up her 250 milestone game playing 210 of them in A Grade and 40 in her current grade A Res.
The highlight of Jody’s BFNL career to date is undoubtedly her team’s premiership in 2008, after several close calls in which they finished as the league’s bridesmaids.
“I had been in three losing grand finals before that (in 2004, 2006 and 2007),” she says. “(Husband) Chris said that if we hadn’t won, he was going to leave home for a month or so until I got over it.”
Another highlight being last year’s grand final win in 'AR' against Sandhurst where they won convincingly 47 to 29.
“Spending 2011 as Golden Square’s assistant coach during and after her third pregnancy resulted in Jody adding a non-playing premiership to her CV.
The coaching experience also helped develop her skills as a mentor and she wants to continue that in her newest sporting role.
This year, Jody continues coaching Girton’s grade six and grade 4 teams at Golden City Netball Association – with eldest daughter Olivia playing in the grade six team and Elise in her grade four team, among the team of keen kids she hopes to guide well through their junior days.
“It’s really exciting to try and coach them from a young age and instil some good habits in them.
“Kids who don’t get that to start with can develop bad habits and you see that come through when they are senior players. It’s very hard to change that once they are over 16 or 17,” she says.
Team spirit is one of the reasons Jody loves netball.
Jody was in junior association representative teams throughout her teen years, playing in a suburban competition and then the Adelaide metropolitan league.
When Jody moved here, netball gave her the chance to establish herself in a new community where she had no family and knew no one.
“The first thing she did as soon as soon as she got to Bendigo was become involved with Golden Square FNC.
Jody’s husband Chris remains an important part of Jody’s netball career and is on hand match days and training nights to mind their daughters Olivia, Elise and Ava.
“He’s been good,” Jody says. “Fortunately of a Saturday he is a big supporter of Golden Square, having played there and as a sponsor, and he likes to go and watch them play.
“So it’s not a drama to be at football and netball all day and have the kids there.
Jody’s contribution to Golden Square was recognised three years ago when she received an outstanding achievement and life membership award for 15 years continuous service as a player, coach, committee member and sponsor.
For the last 5 years Jody has been Golden Square’s Netball Liaison Officer where she deals with all enquiries from the league, media, club committee and manages all of Golden Square’s netball coaches.
“As long as the body holds up Jody thinks she will have a few more seasons left in her and might even get to play a few games with her eldest daughter Olivia who is very keen to put on the blue and gold uniform for Golden Square”.