Spring Chicks pay coach tribute with gold medals

By Iain Hyndman

The Spring Chicks Wanganui masters netball team paid homage to their long-time coach Vanda Buttars by winning back-to-back gold medals at the New Zealand Masters Games in the River City earlier this month.

The majority of the team are former Wanganui representative or Marist A1 club netballers both coached by Buttars over the past few decades, so to play in the 30-plus age group at the masters and win was a notable performance from the old hands.

Spring Chicks team member and spokeswoman Lisa Murphy said even by their own admission the players were "far from being spring chickens".

"We played in the 30-plus age group yet only two of our side are in their mid-30s while the rest of us are probably 44-plus. Most of us are ex-Wanganui reps or Marist A1 players over the years and Vanda has been our coach," Murphy said yesterday.

"In the past she has taken the rep side to division one playing against the big guns like Canterbury and Auckland and Marist A1 has probably won about 20 or so Wanganui club premierships.

"We don't train regularly these days and only get together for the masters games and won gold two years ago.

"This year we played the Huttons Sizzlers in the final and beat them by one point after they beat us by two in the round robin.

"The Huttons Sizzlers are a composite team made up of girls in their 30s that used to play together in London and now either live in Christchurch or Wellington."

Murphy said this year's gold was particularly special and a tribute to the coaching skills of Buttars.

"Vanda has put a lot into netball over the years in Wanganui including the years most of us played competitively, so to win gold again was special for us. We also nearly did it at the Dunedin masters a few years back when we ended up with silver after losing to a South Island team that was essentially an Otago Rebels rep team," Murphy said.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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