Ravens’ nest a proven success

Tristan WheelerManjimup-Bridgetown Times
The Blackwood Ravens team at the 2017 Mud Fest.
Camera IconThe Blackwood Ravens team at the 2017 Mud Fest. Credit: Taelor Pelusey/Busselton Dunsborough Times, Taelor Pelusey

Since their foundation in 2015, the Blackwood Ravens have been providing talented netballers from the South West with a pathway to the higher levels of the game and accruing success in their own right.

The Ravens title winning 16 and Under team from 2019.
Camera IconThe Ravens title winning 16 and Under team from 2019. Credit: Supplied

Club founder and current coach Megan Burvill said the club’s genesis lay in a talented group of netballers who wanted to challenge themselves.

Players from the 2020 Blackwood Raven's Under 16's squad at Kearnan College prior to training.
Camera IconPlayers from the 2020 Blackwood Raven's Under 16's squad at Kearnan College prior to training. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times

“They wanted to go further in the elite pathway, so it was suggested that we nominate a team in the South West Netball and Football League,” she said.

“We had already travelled to Bunbury and Manjimup to play as a development team, and it seemed to be the next logical step for these girls going forward who wanted to continue in the Netball WA pathway.”

Part of the Ravens’ netballing philosophy is that no one player is bigger than the team, demonstrated by their eschewing of traditional individual awards usually presented at the end of the season.

The Ravens 18 and Under title winning squad in 2017, the first of four they have won.
Camera IconThe Ravens 18 and Under title winning squad in 2017, the first of four they have won. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

Burvill said they decided early on to focus on team success, rather than singling out individuals.

“Most of the players who come into the side know that pretty early with me, that that’s not what it’s about, you are here to be a part of the Ravens team and family and that’s what we expect,” she said.

“It is about having fun and being friends and backing each other all the time.”

Former players attest to the importance of this atmosphere at the club.

Ravens alumni Elycce Webb is playing for the Souwest Jets in the Western Australian Netball League.
Camera IconRavens alumni Elycce Webb is playing for the Souwest Jets in the Western Australian Netball League. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

Current Souwest Jets player Elycce Webb was part of the Ravens’ innaugrual season and said the culture at the Ravens was different to other clubs, because of the travel required.

“Most Ravens games are in Bunbury, so we were always travelling together, it’s like a family and everyone is there for each other,” she said.

In the past four years, the club have won all four of the 18 and under South West Football Netball League titles on offer, as well as two of the 16 and under titles.

One of many stories that illustrates the effect the Ravens can have on a player is Hayley Kilrain, who went from spending every minute of the 2017 season on the bench, to captaining the club to the SWNFL 18 and under title in 2020.

“I was extremely happy, because obviously it meant that Megan thought I'd grown throughout my years,” she said.

“To me, it meant that she saw something in me, that I could actually lead them.”

Two Ravens alumni currently play in the WA Netball League, Webb at the Souwest Jets and O’Shiarn Vale at the Western Roar, and they may soon be joined by the three current Ravens players currently playing in the Souwest Jets under-20 ranks, Abbey Hall, Abby Morgan or Kaeley Styles.

Ravens goal defence Kaeley Styles flies to try and block a shot this season.
Camera IconRavens goal defence Kaeley Styles flies to try and block a shot this season. Credit: Tristan Wheeler/Manjimup-Bridgetown Times, Tristan Wheeler

Burvill said when she had a player make the Western Fever team, she would crack the champagne.

“I’ll definitely have a glass of champagne for them, they would have done the hard work and so would their parents, it is a lot of commitment to get them to that level.”

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