The long-awaited reveal of the Melbourne Vixens’ new-look goal circle has been confirmed, with the signings of West Coast Fever goaler, Kaylia Stanton, and Vixens squad member, Ruby Barkmeyer, for season 2021.
Having recently moved on from the Fever after seven seasons, 26-year-old Stanton was quickly approached by Head Coach, Simone McKinnis OAM, and Assistant, Sharelle McMahon, to seamlessly fill the goaling void left by retirees, Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip.
“I was absolutely stoked to find out. A little bit surprised as well as I know how strong the Victorian pathway is and usually the Vixens are a club who promotes their own pathway, so to be considered for a position with them was incredibly humbling,” Stanton said.
Having been a former member of the Australian 21/U squad in 2015, and a silver medallist at the 2013 World Youth Netball Championships, Stanton also caught the eyes of the league when representing Australia at the 2017 Fast5Netball World Series, where she was one of the top three 3-point goalers.
“I don’t think I can replace a Tegan or a Caitlin - I think they are amazing athletes in their own right, and I think for me it’s about bringing my own strengths and tailoring that out on court.
“My athleticism, my height, my speed and also my ability to shoot the ones and the twos obviously going forward - if the Suncorp Super Shot is, like they’ve said, being continued - will be an asset, and I’m more than comfortable taking both of those shot distances.”
With a move across the country from Perth to Melbourne likely to occur in January, Stanton is embracing the change of lifestyle and sees the shift as a timely prospect after being with the same club for seven years.
“There’s so many things I’m looking forward to. Obviously, off the back of the 2020 season with such fantastic success in winning the Premiership, I think to be a part of such a fantastic culture at the Vixens will be incredible and I think they’re always a club that teams aspire to beat and play against because they know how hard-working they are and how formidable they are as a team.
“So, to be coming into that and being a part of that is something I’m really looking forward to.”
Hailing from Bendigo, despite her age of just 19, Barkmeyer too already has a host of accolades to her name before hitting the Vixens squad. She was a member of the 2019 Premiership-winning Victorian Fury squad, as well as the 2018 Victorian 17/U state team and the 2018 Australian 17/U Development Squad. Similarly, to Stanton, Barkmeyer was also surprised to have received the call up.
“I didn’t expect it, I was obviously just grateful to be a part of the squad next year, because I felt this year, I didn’t really get the opportunity as much as I’d like to. So next year will be a huge year and I’m very excited for it,” Barkmeyer said.
“I’ve been really lucky to have the chance to represent Victoria growing up from 12/Us right through to 19/Us, so it’s always a goal to be a Vixen when you’re in that pathway… To finally get that goal which everyone works towards at Suncorp Super Netball level is very exciting, and I’m a bit shocked.
“But, the news at the end of this year is kind of a reward for my family and friends and everyone who has put a lot of work in for me over the years – getting me to training and things, so I can’t wait to share it with them…eventually!”
With only a squad of 14 traveling to the Queensland hub, Barkmeyer stayed back home in Victoria to continue her training schedule.
“When the girls left around July, I went back to Bendigo and I was just training with my family…my dad has been my passer. It was quite tough to get up and find the motivation to train when you’re not exactly sure what you’re training for.
“But, to know that I’ll be part of the team next year, I guess all the hard work and interval running I’ve been doing will eventually be put into use when we can get out on court.”
Having spent the six months prior to the hub training alongside Thwaites, Philip and Kumwenda, Barkmeyer feels fortunate to have spent time learning from some amazing role models and hopes to project her learnings next season.
“I spoke to Simone about what I can bring to the team and I think there’s still lots of things to work on, but I do think I’m quite calm and composed out on court and hopefully I can bring that to the team and play well with the girls around me and build strong relationships with them on and off the court to help us be successful.”
Barkmeyer will finish off the year at a training camp for the 21/U National Squad from November 26 to 30, before jumping into pre-season training. Stanton and Barkmeyer join 2020 Sharelle McMahon Medallist, Kate Moloney, 2020 Grand Final MVP, Mwai Kumwenda, plus Emily Mannix, Kadie-Ann Dehaney, Jo Weston, Liz Watson and Kate Eddy of current Vixens contracted for 2021.