Australian Diamond and West Coast Fever defender – Courtney Bruce has had a standout year both domestically and internationally.
At the Australian Netball Awards, Courtney took out the highest honour, The Liz Ellis Diamond, in recognition of this fantastic form.
“It means a lot, it is an individual accolade but the beauty of playing a team sport is that I can’t do what I do out on court without the girls around me. As much as it is really cool to have received it and I am super grateful and humbled, it is a credit to my defenders out the front of me both at an international level and at the Fever”.
To Bruce, the award she has received is all the more special for the netballer it was named after.
“Liz is someone that I have looked up to my whole career and when I was younger so to get an award named after her as a goalkeeper is really cool.”
Reflecting on the domestic season in 2021, Courtney credits a clear vision and a passion for the game for her form under West Coast Fever. She says there was, “a lot of clarity, we had a pretty tough year and we all knew what we had to do and we had a lot of fun out there. I think that I play my best netball when I am enjoying myself. In such a hard year, we had to make it fun.”
Although the season with the Fever was challenging Courtney believes the team are stronger for it. “We all knew we had each other’s backs all the time, whether that be on the court or off the court, if someone needed support, we were all there to lift each other up.”
Having now endured the difficulties of two seasons during the pandemic, the experience has helped grow the team culture within the West Coast Fever.
“The level of support and understanding of each other has grown so much over the last two years.”
Internationally, Courtney feels deeply honoured to play for the Diamonds, and every time she does so she aims to put her best foot forward and make the most of the opportunities given to her- as she showcased this year.
“I am so lucky that I have so many people around me in both environments that want to make us grow and want to make us better and challenge us every day.”
Leaving A Lasting Legacy
Courtney definitely looks up to Liz Ellis, and she’s just as full of praise for Sharni Layton and Laura Geitz.
“I am pretty lucky that I had the opportunity to play both of them when I was first coming through the Diamonds pathway. I looked up to them in the way they play and particularly the way that they led.”
With both having since moved on, Bruce now takes inspiration from those around her.
“I look up to my teammates the most, both in the Fever and Diamonds environment, to do what we do isn’t easy at times and everyone has their own unique and different strengths. In the Fever environment, seeing the way that the girls go about things, every day there is someone doing something that amazes me. The girls that are around me are the ones that motivate me and inspire me.”
When asked about her own legacy, Courtney hopes to highlight that there are two very different sides to her career.
“When I step onto the court I get to be Courtney Bruce the netballer. I am fierce and I am a mongrel and I am dynamic, but when I step off the court I am a really kind and caring person. You can wear these different hats, I can be a really good role model on the court by the way that I play but I can be a really good role model off the court by the things that I do and the way that I make people feel.”
After many years playing netball professionally, a big lesson that Courtney has learnt is that you can be yourself and “don’t have to fit a certain mould, I can be who I want to be out on the court. We are all so special and unique so we may as well be ourselves rather than trying to fit in.”
What Comes Next
Heading into 2022, Courtney is looking forward to travelling with the Diamonds in January, with an eye towards filling up the trophy cabinet at Netball Australia and maybe even winning back the Commonwealth Games gold medal.
Closer to home, Bruce is hungry to restore Fever, and Western Australia, to the top of the Super Netball. She’s hoping to “bring a premiership back to Fever, we have been so close so many times now. Hopefully to have the opportunity to play another finals series and bring the success to Western Australia that they so rightly deserve as the community here have ridden a lot with us through some major highs and some major lows.”