Renae Ingles’ daughter Milla and Sharelle McMahon’s youngest child Ruby have not met, yet, despite their occasional guest appearances at Melbourne Vixens training, but their mothers are confident the pre-schoolers will hit it off.
“We have grand plans for Ruby and Milla to be best friends, so they don’t have a choice!’’ laughs Ingles, foundation Vixen No.6, who was last year reunited with her decorated former Melbourne Phoenix, Vixens and Australian Diamonds teammate, playing member #1.
This season, McMahon has increased her duties from specialist shooting coach to become Simone McKinnis’ main assistant, as well as being mum to six-year-old son Xavier and Ruby, three-and-a-half.
Ingles, meanwhile, made a surprise comeback to Suncorp Super Netball in 2018, returning from an NBA season with husband Joe in Salt Lake City as a surprise replacement for the pregnant Chloe Watson. With plenty of help, the 32-year-old continues to combine her playing duties with raising Milla and twin Jacob, who turns three in July.
“I absolutely love the fact that I have the opportunity to do both, and I guess I can’t take it for granted, because I feel really really lucky and really really supported - not only by Joe and my own parents and family but my Vixens family,’’ Ingles says.
“I think it’s really cliche and easy to say that your club is all about family, but I genuinely believe that the Vixens live and breathe that. Everyone is each other’s family and genuinely cares for each other, and I honestly feel like my kids are really lucky because they have another nine-plus aunties that are always on the look out for them. So it’s actually really lovely.’’
The Ingles have spoken openly and at length of the impact of Jacob's diagnosis with autism in January. The family has also been active in raising awareness of the condition through their social media reach, and Renae and Joe will next year walk the Kokoda Track to help the 4 ASD Kids charity.
They are well-travelled, certainly. Renae spent the Vixens’ pre-season criss-crossing the Pacific, and with the Utah Jazz not eliminated in the NBA play-offs until the week of Suncorp Super Netball’s opening round, Renae’s parents, Margaret and Denis Hallinan, have provided invaluable support.
Thus, Mother’s Day will be a joint celebration - or, at least, when the Vixens’ recovery and review session after Saturday’s round three game against the Thunderbirds in Adelaide permits.
“I can honestly say, none of this would have been possible without my mum - especially in the period while Joe was playing play-offs, mum was not only my mum, and was not only Nanna, she became full-time babysitter when I wasn’t around, she was my counsellor, my mate, all of the above,’’ says Ingles.
“She has been and has always been a huge support from day one in my netball career, but certainly ever more so since the twins came along. Yes, she’s been my number one supporter, and I absolutely couldn’t have done anything that I’ve done without her. I would not be where I am today, or doing this, or playing for the Vixens, if it hadn’t been for her love and support. So, very very grateful.’’
So for Ingles and the top-of-the-table Vixens, next stop Adelaide - Joe's birthplace and Renae's home for six seasons after her first stint with the Vixens ended after 2011.
"I’m just thrilled every time I get an opportunity to step out there in the Vixens dress, and looking forward to heading back to a familiar court this weekend in Adelaide,'' she says.
“I think the T-birds are going to go to from strength to strength the more they’re out on the court with each other and with Tania (Obst) at the helm. I think they’ve shown they’re going to be a force this year and are really going to push teams and want to push for finals themselves.
“This is a big match for us, round three, especially our first away match of the season, so we’re really excited to get on the road with the team, and hopefully put together another 60 minute performance, but also knowing that Thunderbirds coming off a loss are going to be hungry for another win, as well.’’
Written by Linda Pearce