Besides celebrating her 26th birthday with a family-dress-up party at home on the Bellarine Peninsula during the coronavirus lockdown, Emily Mannix has also helped to paint the carport, convert a shipping container into Airbnb accommodation, and trained for Suncorp Super Netball with, her Vixens teammates via Zoom.
But more of that all later. First to the dramatic bit.
There was bloodshed. A kitchen mishap with a knife sharpener. Surgery to repair a severed thumb tendon.
Relax, though, Vixens fans. It wasn’t Emily’s.
Indeed, the star defender has enjoyed a welcome stretch free of injury - even if the COVID-19 interruption has meant that this has been anything but a normal pre-season for a paralysed competition whose revised game plan is due to be revealed this week.
Back in sleepy St Leonard’s last month, it was Mannix’s mum, Karen, who was wounded.
“She cut her thumb tendon right in half, basically. Dad’s fish-filleting knives are super sharp and we have a special sharpener which mum just grabbed the wrong way,’’ recalls Emily, the elder of the four Mannix children.
“I wasn’t actually home, but my brother’s girlfriend is a paramedic and she said ‘I think you definitely need stitches’, and then she bandaged it up and when I took mum in the next day they said ‘ah, I think you might need a bit more than stitches.’
“So there’s been a lot going on around here. There’s always something happening!’’
Including that April 16 iso-birthday celebration, with parents Karen and Anthony, long-time partner Ari, and two of Emily's siblings and their partners all currently sharing the family home. A party quorum? Cheers to that.
“It was nice; there’s enough of us that we can actually have a party!’’ Emily says. “We all dressed up as someone else in the family, so you had to wear something you got out of their cupboard, which was quite entertaining.
“I though ’oh, that’s going to be boring’, but my brother got me and I always wear Peter Alexander nighties which are a little bit short, so he was walking around bending over and showing everyone what I usually do. I was like ‘that’s a bit rude!’.
“I got my sister who was very easy, cos she loves her gym gear, so I just wore that. The funniest was dad, in a bra, dressing as mum.’’
Outdoors, there has also been plenty to occupy the popular 49-game goal keeper - notably least the shipping container conversion that recently featured in a segment on Nine News and has led to much banter around the dinner table.
“Everyone in my family has given me so much flack about the Channel Nine segment where they thought that I was trying to say that I’d done it all, and I obviously did not!’’ she laughs.
“So I’d like to just clarify I’ve not done it all and I’m obviously not super-good on the tools, but I have helped out a little bit with the painting and that sort of thing.’’
Netball-wise, the 'definitely not a morning person' has absolutely not missed the 4am alarms set for those early weights sessions at the VIS after the long drive up the Geelong Road. Her teammates, though, including the likes of long-time defensive partner Jo Weston, are another matter.
“It has been strange, but Joey has been sending me a lot of videos of herself! And (her dog) Billie, and different things. So I still feel like I kind of see her.
“We’ve all been keeping in touch and checking in on each other, which has been really good. But I definitely miss everyone. We went from seeing each other almost all day every day to just seeing each other on Zoom.
“I definitely know why I chose a team sport, because I love training with people and pushing myself against my teammates, and that sort of thing, so it’s been difficult.
“And I feel like I’m in a world of my own out here, as well. I feel a bit separated from everyone, but I’m lucky enough to live with my family, so I have people around me all the time. Not that they train with me or anything, which would be nice.’’
Clearly, the Mannixs are not the Honeys (i.e. a family where everyone is - or at least was - an elite athlete). Emily jokes that she doesn’t have to fight anyone for access to the gym equipment, while brother Ben apparently needs to work on his passing skills. “He was … ah… I’d say ‘average’. But that’s all right. He tried!’’
Solo preparation has had its other challenges, too, with Mannix admitting she has struggled for motivation at times due to the uncertainty over whether, how and when the season would go ahead. “I feel like I’ve been training and doing all this hard work and not knowing why almost, in a way,’’ she says.
“And we’re indoor athletes and the oval I’ve been training on has no wind coverage and it’s been blowing an absolute gale and raining and I’m like ‘no, this is why I play indoor sports!’ So having something to look forward to will be good.’’
The timing was also particularly unfortunate for the reigning Sharelle McMahon Medallist and 2019 Player of the Finals, who was enjoying a strong and unusually healthy pre-season on which to further build in 2020. That ambition has not changed; only the circumstances have.
“I still have so much more to learn and grow and I had some really good discussions with Simone (McKinnis) and Sharelle (McMahon) as well about what this year could look like, and that was getting all really exciting as it was drawing closer to the season,'' she says.
“But we’re all in the same boat, so it’s just about staying in the moment and being able to control what I can control and do what I can do. We all just have to keep hopeful for the future and what still can come.’’
By Linda Pearce
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