IT has been a massive year for goal shooter Emma Ryde, who has found herself returning to netball in 2019 and providing a massive target in the goal circle for every team she has taken the court with. While a relatively well known name in the netball community thanks to her stature in the circle and accuracy to post, Ryde is still only 22 years old and has plenty to prove in her netball career – and though it is still only August, Ryde says it has been a big year after taking a break from high performance leagues with injury in 2018.
“It has definitely been a crazy year. I definitely didn’t think that I would be playing Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) this year at all so that’s been one crazy thing. I was even contemplating whether I was going to play Australian Netball League (ANL). Things have definitely gone not the way I would have thought but it has been a pretty awesome journey and I have enjoyed every minute of it.”
While injury threw a spanner in the works last year, Ryde says taking opportunities in 2019 has been a real focus while also keeping on top of post-match recovery to ensure she can continue her reign in goal shooter.
“Last year I was injured and this year I kind of wanted to maybe focus on the one team and have a really good solid season at Victorian Netball League (VNL) with the Casey Demons … hopefully make a grand final and just focus on that one thing. But I am definitely glad now that I chose to take all of my opportunities,” Ryde said. “I think having all of last year off really put me in – I don’t want to say good stead because it was really crap getting injured – but it really has been kind of a blessing in disguise, you could say.”
“This year I have really focused on getting everything right, like recovery outside of netball. When I need a break I ask for a break, I am trying my best to do all the things outside to help recovery.”
Ryde honed her craft in the Victorian netball pathways as a junior and has continued to do so in 2019. An ANL premiership appearance for Victorian Fury saw Ryde showcase her ability to shoot her team to glory, while also juggling a starting position for Casey Demons in the VNL in its inaugural season – with another grand final appearance against Geelong Cougars last week.
While Casey lost in their inaugural grand final appearance, Fury got a big win on the board, coming from behind against NSW Waratahs.
“I think all the girls were quite nervous but once we got on court we knew what we had to do and got the job done. So it was really exciting and I hadn’t won a grand final in a while so I really, really loved the experience. It was great to be a part of that team together.”
The 1.97m goal shooter has impressed in her comeback to netball in 2019, earning a Most Valuable Player award for her efforts in the ANL and shooting 46 goals from 53 attempts in the grand final alone.
“I obviously didn’t think that I would win the MVP. I think there were some games where I thought I played quite well but there were other games where I was like ‘that was a bit of a shocking game’. I think it helps that I had such an awesome team around me, the girls just kept working and working to get me the ball,” Ryde said.
“It’s credit to the team for getting me the ball but I really enjoyed the season with the girls. I think that, that also made me enjoy playing netball again, so it was a great opportunity to play ANL.”
Among these achievements, Ryde has recently worked her way back into the Suncorp Super Netball as a replacement player, albeit in a non-Victorian team, taking the court for Adelaide Thunderbirds.
“I’m loving every minute of it. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity that I have been given and I think that I have grabbed it with both hands and made the best of the chances that I’ve got,” she said. “The girls have been great, I have been so welcomed into the group and everyone has been really great. Obviously being able to work with Maria Folau – she just has a wealth of knowledge and helped me easily join the team.”
While Ryde is familiar with the level of competition after taking the court with Melbourne Vixens on occasion over the past few years, she said it was good having some familiar faces at the Thunderbirds in her first opportunity interstate, especially with the leap in intensity.
“Each level you go up the intensity just goes up a notch. VNL maybe you train once a week to twice a week. Then you go to ANL and you’re training three times a week and then you go to SSN and you’re training four to five times a week. So they are all quite different in the training loads but the higher you go the intensity is definitely on another level,” Ryde said.
“Tania (Obst, Head Coach of Adelaide Thunderbirds) was my Under 21s coach. It’s been good that I know people there and am not going in by myself. The environment has been really welcoming and I have really enjoyed being with the team.”
Ryde suffered a hyperextension of the knee in Round 13 of SSN against the GIANTS and while 2019 has seen her only come in as a replacement player since the Netball World Cup break, she hopes her efforts this season has helped her chances for making it as a regular next season.
“Hopefully this year I kind of put myself out there again and proved to some people that I’m capable to come up against Australia’s and all around the world’s best defenders. So I’ve got my fingers crossed.”
“I played Collingwood … playing against Geva (Mentor). Geva is just the ultimate competitor and she’s just awesome, I think she is someone who is really hard to play against. It was a good tussle and there was a lot to learn playing against her and playing against anyone. So yeah Geva is quite the defender. I just think her work rate, her ethic, the way she goes about her netball game is just awesome.”
Over the past 18 months Ryde has combined her passion for netball with a matter close to home, taking on an assistant coaching role with the Victorian All Abilities program.
“It’s awesome. I never saw myself much as a coach but I have a sister with a disability and that kind of hits close to home. I got asked last year if I wanted to get involved and I put an application in, I couldn’t resist,” Ryde said.
“Last year I got the opportunity to be the assistant coach and again this year I’ve been given the opportunity and it’s awesome and I love it. All the girls are awesome to be around, they all just want to be there and that’s the main thing, they just want to be there and have fun and get out there and play netball.”
All Abilities netball programs are still growing around Australia, but Ryde says Netball Victoria have been great in trying to elevate the Victorian program to be a more high performance environment.
“I guess that’s what they wanted my input to be in the team, because I have been in a high elite netball environment. We train once every fortnight and then we will have a full on two hour hard intense training session,” she said. “I think they are really trying to push to get more people involved and get the word out there about the All Abilities program.”
While Ryde has had an impressive year both on and off the court, she says she still has elements of her game she would like to improve on.
“A definite strength is obviously my height – leaping and a good arm, strong target. Obviously being tall and always being an option in the goal ring to turn and shoot the goals, she said.
“I guess my weakness is my confidence sometimes. You can tell when I’m confident and when I’m not confident, I’ll take a longer shot if I’m feeling confident but if I don’t shoot a longer shot that’s when you know I’m off and my confidence must be down. So yeah I’ve got to believe in myself all the time and just getting that confidence all the time.”