Suncorp Super Netball

Achieving elite netball dream: Sophie Fawns

It has been quite the journey for NSW Swift’s training partner, Sophie Fawns.

At just 18, has dominated the NSW junior pathway which has led to representing Australia at U17s and U19s.

Now with her decorated junior career, the young shooter has been elevated to a full-time NSW Swifts training partner and has the potential to become a full-time Swifts player following a round 1 injury.

Image rights: NSW Swifts

Where Sophie Started

From growing up in Wagga Wagga and starting netball at the age of nine, Fawns has had several opportunities to represent NSW at a young age.

“When I was first selected in the NSW team I was very surprised and so grateful,” Fawns mentions but through her pathway journey, she has been able to embrace representing her state and her country and now she thrives under the post.

“I started playing netball with my school friends when I was 9 years old as a social sport and to spend more time with my friends.”

“I never thought that I would make it past phase one (of NSW Trials),  so to be picked for the team was such an honour and the opportunity to represent my state at such a young age has shaped me in so many ways,” Fawns comments.

“To be from a country town where there is very few people who have made it big in netball drove me to be a role model for young girls and prove that it is possible to play netball at the elite level,” Fawns says, “It can be a goal, not just a dream (for the young girls of Wagga Wagga).”

Flourishing on the court at such a young age, also meant Fawns juggled her school including HSCs, training and games during the week. Her spirit, grit and determination to make it work likens to the early journeys of foundation Swifts players.

In our interview, she shares what challenges she had to overcome to make the team, and how she juggled her commitments to make it all work out.

“I communicated a lot with my teachers at school and made them aware of my commitments. I did lot of online school, especially the last 2 years. I had to be really diligent with my time and quite organised, if there was a little bit of time to do an assignment, I would use it as best I could,” she describes.

Like many country players, Fawns describes one of her biggest challenges to be in her confidence and her mark-up of the city players’ skills.

“I didn’t think I was as good as the girls who had grown up in the city playing netball but after making the team I gained a lot of self-belief that I had what it takes,” Fawns comments.

And take it she did, Fawns became one of the youngest stars in the NSW Premier League and began impressing Performance Directors and Head Coaches from the age of 15. In 2021, she was awarded the Commonwealth Games NSW Athlete Grant.

Sophie Fawns playing against the NSW Mens at the 2022 Season Launch.

NSW Premier League opportunity

Her introduction to the Origin Energy Premier League began in 2020 with the South Coast Blaze but her standout season came in 2021 when she played for the Penrith Panthers and was highly accurate under the post.

” (The NSW Premier League) is a great opportunity to be a part of!” Fawns says, “The competition is so strong so every time I play I am challenged which helps me grow as a player.”

After being a part of the QBE Academy for the past two years Fawns shares how playing in the NSW Premier League has allowed her to step into the position of training partner with the NSW Swifts.

“The Swifts is such a different level of intensity and a different ball game. They are so much faster and it becomes more of a thinking and strategic game along with strength because everyone is just as fast and strong as you.”

NSW Swifts Training Partner

Fawns has been a regular feature in the lead up to the 2022 Super Netball Season, but now that it is fully underway Fawns comments that she is looking forward to every game she gets to play and is particularly excited for Nationals this year which are being held in Hobart later this year.

One of the best things, she has taken away from being a NSW Swifts training partner is that she gets to learn off two of the world’s best shooters, Helen Housby and Sam Wallace.

“Everything they say I soak up! Sam has helped me with my shooting and my technique. Her biggest tip is definitely about confidence and putting the ball up. Helen has given me some tips on setting up different plays and how to move in the circle.”

Fawns has also been taking the opportunity to grow her game and learn from every Swifts player and coaching staff. Some of her playing role models have even included current Swifts players.

“I really look up to Paige Hadley. She’s been in the game for so long and is such a workhorse and so driven. It’s a passion that I truly admire and she’s an incredible person.”

“As a training partner, I have learnt so much from the girls and from the coaching staff. I am growing my game with new things to try out on the court and building confidence and backing myself. Every bit of feedback I get, I write down and try working on it in the next training session. Every opportunity I get is something I don’t take for granted so I make the most of what I’ve got.”

Being a training partner and a role model for her district at such a young age, Fawns is encouraging more people to play netball (particularly in Wagga Wagga) and for upcoming players has this advice:

“Make the most of every opportunity you get and don’t be scared of it! Have confidence in yourself that you can do it, and train hard because it can be a reality.”

The NSW Swifts are currently determining a replacement for Sam Wallace after a round 1 injury and with an accurate preseason and a range of outstanding accolades, we hope Sophie Fawns is at the front of the line and is able to make her Suncorp Super Netball Debut in 2022.

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