It is hard to encapsulate the storied career of Vixens head coach Simone McKinnis and just how much she has given to Victorian netball through almost every professional netball era but ‘leading fearlessly’ seems to do her justice.
Her unwavering commitment to inspiring her players, growing the Victorian pathways with the Vixens, through their partnership with the Victorian Institute of Sport, and leading from the front has earned her a contract extension through to the end of the 2025 Suncorp Super Netball season.
But to McKinnis, #LeadFearless is not just a tagline. To her, it is a way of life.
“For me, leading fearlessly – it is about no barriers, no holding back, it is about the opportunity, innovation, it is pushing our own boundaries and getting better,” she told The Netball Post.
“It is about challenging each other to be better and, as we’ve seen this year and last year, it is about overcoming challenging circumstances and be able to perform.
“To love the challenge, love the intensity and embrace that, and give everything.”
Coming off the back of an awe-inspiring COVID-19 affected 2020 Suncorp Super Netball premiership, McKinnis is the first to admit to the challenges Vixens to embrace in 2021.
To start, the club lost its entire front end as shooters Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Phillip both retired, before Diamonds and Vixens wing attack Liz Watson was sidelined with a season-ending injury – well ahead of round 1.
A tough start to the season was met with a chaotic 2021 Super Netball season, as the Vixens were forced to relocate a number of times before settling into Queensland to finish the year off.
McKinnis does not shy away from the fact that 2021 was not good enough, but 2022 is a new ball game as she looks to strive for balance across the court.
“The whole group is disappointed with the year, but I can’t question that everyone gave everything for the full season. We weren’t good enough, but we did stick together as a group – we stuck strong,” she said.
“[For 2022] it is about building the balance and depth across the court and the squad including our training partners. I think it is also about players having the capacity to play across a number of positions.
“You need to be flexible on the court – particularly with the rolling subs. I can’t wait to start that next phase, as I said, we’re super disappointed… but I can’t wait for season 2022.”
McKinnis took over as head coach in 2013 and has won two championships (2014 and 2020) and three Coach of the Year awards (2014, 2017 and 2020) presented by the league.
Widely regarded as one of the best wing defenders to have ever played the game, McKinnis captained Melbourne Phoenix to a premiership in the inaugural year of the Commonwealth Bank Trophy in 1997, before retiring from elite netball in 1998.
An international career of 63 tests, McKinnis was a crucial part of Australia’s back-to-back World Cup victories in 1991 and 1995 and the inaugural netball gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1998.
Following her playing career, McKinnis turned her sights to coaching, working at the Melbourne Phoenix, Australian Institute of Sport and Singapore Sports School Netball Academy, before finding her way to the Vixens in 2012 as a Specialist Coach.
Categories: Suncorp Super Netball