Round 8: Vixens vs GIANTS

Match Day Guide

🦊 Round 8: Vixens vs GIANTS Match Day Guide

Sophie Garbin has found her home

Soph web
1 month ago

Written by Amelia Barnes

She’s played for two of the club’s biggest rivals in the NSW Swifts and Collingwood Magpies, but for Sophie Garbin, signing with the Melbourne Vixens felt like it was written in the stars.

The Australian Diamonds shooter fell in love with Melbourne after joining the Magpies in 2022. She soon bought an apartment and built a life in the Victorian city, so when Collingwood’s netball team unexpectedly dissolved, Garbin was hoping a Melbourne Vixens call up was imminent.

In fortuitous timing for both the Vixens and Garbin, a spot in the team’s contracted 10 athletes had just opened up. Vixens fans had their fingers crossed that a move to the cross-town club was imminent after Garbin proved indispensable to the Diamonds during the 2023 Netball World Cup and Quad Series.

It wasn’t a done deal until Garbin spoke with Vixens head coach Simone McKinnis, who shared the culture of the team and her expectations.

“It was that phone call with Simone that really sold me,” Garbin said. “She didn't pump up my tyres or tell me how good she thinks I am… She just spoke about the Vixens’ values and how they operate.

“I feel like that won me over and reminded me of what I value in a netball environment and in a work environment.”

With established connections with almost the entire squad on and off court, Garbin has fitted into the Vixens environment seamlessly.

In addition to representing the Diamonds with Jo Weston, Kate Moloney, and Kiera Austin, Garbin played with Hannah Mundy in the 2022 Fast5 Netball World Series, and she lived with Kate Eddy when they played together at the NSW Swifts.

One of Garbin’s priorities when searching for a new club was the opportunity to play more of her preferred position of goal shooter.

The West Australian-born athlete grew up playing goal shooter, and has played the position almost exclusively at Diamonds level, but has slotted into goal attack throughout most of her Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) career to date.

“I'm definitely more comfortable in goal shooter. I feel like that's more of a strength for me,” said Garbin.

With the exciting news that Mwai Kumwenda – who has played goal shooter for the Vixens for the best part of the last seven seasons – is expecting her first child and will sit out the 2024 season, it’s almost guaranteed that Garbin will assume a starting goal shooter position for the first time in her SSN career.

She comes into the role with new skills developed as an impact and premiership player at the Swifts, and a starting goal attack at the Magpies.

“I do still enjoy goal attack and I feel like playing goal attack has helped me with my goal shooter game, just developing those skills and coming out of the circle,” said Garbin.

“I think having that versatility throughout the whole team can really contribute to the team’s success.”

For Garbin, another drawcard of joining the Vixens was the opportunity to play alongside goal attack Kiera Austin after the pair recently established themselves as a formidable shooting partnership for the Diamonds.

“I love playing with Kip. I just think she's got such good ball skills, she's so creative, and she's a great shooter,” said Garbin.

“I feel our combination will be quite good to come up against because we can both shoot and we can both be high volume shooters, so it's not just one of us carrying the load.”

She adds, jokingly, “Hopefully it'll just be super easy. She can do all the hard work and I’ll sit back and sit under the post.”

Not having to face Jo Weston on the SSN stage is just another bonus of Garbin’s new club.

“She just wears you like a glove. You can't run where you want to run, you can't do what you want to do, and everything is just so hard when you're playing on her.”

It’s been a long time coming, but finally, Garbin feels where she belongs – at the Vixens wearing the GS bib.

“It does feel like I was always kind of going to be here,” Garbin said. “It definitely feels like home.”

The Vixens begin their 2024 campaign against the Melbourne Mavericks at John Cain Arena on Sunday 14 April.

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