Relief, new president as popular Ipswich netball returns
AS excitement builds about the return of Ipswich netball competition, a proverbial master is ready to give her apprentice a chance to shine.
When one of Ipswich's most successful administrators was approached by an energetic successor, she knew it was time to stand aside.
Gail Lyne has devoted more than 50 years to the sport, including 24 as Ipswich Netball Association (INA) president.
Lyne was fittingly recognised with a Service to Sport accolade at the 2017 Queensland Sports Awards.
However, when Nicole Virtue offered to lead the 10-member management committee, Lyne happily stood down at the recent AGM.
Having worked in various roles with Virtue for 11 years, Lyne was delighted to be making a 2021 leadership changeover.
"Nicole came to me last year and said 'what do you think about if I go vice-president','' Lyne said.
"And I said to her: 'I think that's a great idea because I'm not going to be here forever. I'm pretty much ready to step down'.''
Virtue didn't get a chance to develop that assistant's role when Ipswich Netball Association officials decided to withdraw competition last year due to COVID concerns.
Virtue's willingness to take on the presidency this year came after some wonderful lead-up work. Her decision fulfilled an ideal succession plan for the association.
In trademark style, Lyne offered to help Virtue transition smoothly into the role.
"I said at the meeting (AGM), I'm not running away. I'll still be here but it is time,'' Lyne said.
Virtue said she had been considering the position for a while.
"I think I've progressed my time throughout Ipswich,'' she said.
She started playing at club and representative level before accepting roles as promotions officer and umpires convenor.
"I've had my time in Ipswich and I've watched it develop over the years,'' Virtue said.
"So I've been out there and experienced it and then it's that piece of giving back to the association as well.
"And because I've been on the management team for well over 10 years, I've seen that growth as well and I want to give back.
"I want to see our association grow and develop and I want to look at the sustainability piece for us as well and how we retain volunteers, but how do we also lesson the burden off volunteers as well.''
The new club president appreciated having Lyne on the sidelines.
"She's only a phone call away. She's only five minutes down the road as well, which is really handy,'' Virtue said.
"You've got to take on board that years of knowledge and experience that Gail has and the efforts that have been put in over the years as well.
"That doesn't go unnoticed so I dare say over the coming years, depending on how long I sit in this chair, there will be many phone calls, many visits to have discussions.''
Virtue works full-time in contract and performance management. She is married to Glen, a diesel fitter.
She accepted Lyne's wise advice taking on the role.
"Probably just make sure you listen to people,'' Lyne said.
"You do have to listen before you jump in . . . and don't be afraid to ask for help or ask questions.
"Someone else there always knows something.''
The new Ipswich netball season is scheduled to fire up in May after grading games from March 13.
Competition at the Doris Howes courts at Limestone Park is set to run until the end of August.
"We are really looking forward to the season,'' the newly appointed club president said.
"As everyone knows, we didn't have a 2020 season and as far as management and the club were concerned, that was the best decision for our association.
"There was a lot of consultation that went on in that space. As Gail said, we listened.
"It was not a decision we made lightly.''
This year's competition will follow the format of pre-COVID years.
"Based on what we're seeing so far, there is a little decrease in numbers but that was expected,'' Virtue said.
She said more than 900 players have registered.
Virtue was confident Ipswich netball's strong base would ensure more regulars came back.
Ipswich netball will cater for age groups from youngest Net-Set kids (5-10 years), through 11s, 12s, 13s, up to cadets (16-19) and seniors.
"What's key is getting people back on court and reminding people what they enjoy about being out at netball and that community atmosphere,'' she said.
"For me, one thing I've been thinking about is collaboration. It's key to the engagement with our members. It's key to have the shared knowledge and share of the experiences because then you also share the successes.''
Virtue also acknowledged the clubs for their ongoing efforts that give players, umpires, coaches, the managers valuable opportunities.
"Without our clubs there, none of this is possible,'' she said.
The annual state age championships are scheduled for Sunshine Coast this year.
The Ipswich Netball Association is set down to host a representative carnival on May 30.
Ipswich born and bred Lyne leaves the presidency post having overseen one of Queensland's most successful associations during her 50 years in the sport.
Growing up in Woodend, Lyne was introduced to netball through her mother Beryl, a former association president for 13 years and her father John, who regularly marked the courts.
Her 24-year stint as club president was with a range of earlier administrative roles including registrar (aged 14), secretary (for five years), representative treasurer (one year), coaching director (four years) and state league co-ordinator (four years).
She was also the inaugural coach of the Ipswich Flyers representative team in 1994, as part of a 20 year stint (1975-95), where she also worked with club sides.
The former representative goal attack has served Netball Queensland in various committee functions.
The former St Mary's College student has played a leading role in maintaining and upgrading Ipswich's netball headquarters, providing a hub for 1500 junior and senior players to enjoy the benefits of a popular team sport.
When she took over the presidency in 1996, Lyne oversaw a major revamp, setting new directions for the association.
Now it's Virtue's turn to build on past successes.
"It's just about thanking and acknowledging Gail for the years of effort that she has put in,'' Virtue said.
"Not just as president for the last 24 years; it's the other years . . . she's been here since she was a child with her dad and mum and the efforts that have gone on throughout the years.
"I think that's a legacy you just can't compete with.''