Grand final double: Junior Wests teams keep moving ahead
HOCKEY: While winning can be nerve-racking and satisfying at the same time, seeing young players develop skills and spirit is just as important.
That was the case in the latest D-Grade girls' grand final where Wests held out a determined Norths side 2-1 in the grand final.
Former A-Grade and representative player Danni Emblem has shared in many nailbiting moments on a hockey field.
But she said her team's latest win had her anxiously watching, especially after Norths came from 1-0 down to equalise in the third quarter.
It took a goal from Emblem's daughter Charlie to break the deadlock after the match looked headed for extra time.
"I probably get more nervous because I can only control what I can be in control of,'' the former halfback said.
"But when you're not playing, you can't be in control of what's going on the field so I probably get more nervous than them.''
Although Wests were minor premiers and mid-season winners, Emblem knew the Terry Wode-coached Norths' combination would provide quality opposition in the final.
"Towards the end of the season, they (Norths) were finding themselves developing their game play and in the first semi-final, they gave it to us,'' Emblem said.
"They really challenged us and both team coaches come in with some great tactics and we were just fortunate that we got over the top.''
It was back-to-back grand final successes for teams coached by Emblem.
Having mentored the club's C-Grade side last year, she was encouraged to see the progress in her first season looking after the D-Graders.
The side she coached last year also won their grand final in a 3-2 thriller over Thistles.
Wests' goalkeeper Kiana-Lynne McPeake saved a stroke inside the final two minutes to deny Thistles a chance to equalise and force extra time.
"The thing that I love about Wests is they are really big on their coaches and their development, and it starts with the junior grades,'' Emblem said.
"If you don't have good coaches at the bottom, you have got that flowing through. And that's something we are very lucky. We've had Vanessa (Kissane), Bri (Brihony Simpson), myself, Dodger (Steve Rogers) is involved with coaching.
"And at the upper end is Brent Nicholls (multiple premiership-winning A-Grade mentor) so we're, very very fortunate to have good coaches.''
Emblem praised her young players who stepped up under the grand final pressure and offered plenty of promise for the future.
"It's also good to see the development with Ipswich going forward,'' she said.
"We've changed that winning culture and there's great kids coming through.
"Hopefully with those right coaches, we keep developing and get back on the map again.''