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Shepparton United coach Kara Blizzard poised to join 300 club

Monumental achievement: Shepparton United A-grade coach Kara Blizzard (Dawes) will play her 300th game for the Demons this weekend. Photo by Aydin Payne

For 34-year-old Kara Blizzard there isn’t much that means more than the Shepparton United Football Netball Club.

Currently coaching the Demons at A-grade level, Blizzard has seen it all over her almost 20-year netball journey, and on Saturday afternoon she will tick off another incredible milestone: 300 club games.

Having featured in two premierships for United, one in B-grade (2012) and another in A-grade (2014), she has been a constant at wing attack for the red-and-blue, with a tenacious determination and will to win the feature of her game.

Speaking to The News in the lead-up to the big milestone against Benalla at Deakin Reserve, Blizzard said it was hard to capture how much the achievement meant to her.

“There were a few mixed emotions when I was told that I was playing my 300th because it isn’t something I have ever tracked,” Blizzard said.

“I’m not sure, if I’m in denial as I’m getting older or what it is, but having time to reflect on it now I am pretty proud that I have come this far.”

The definition of a one-club player, Blizzard has bled red-and-blue from the beginning, with her family boasting strong ties to the club.

“My pop was a life member, my dad was made a legend at the club and then I was also made a life member, so United is a very special place for my family,” she said.

“It hasn’t been easy and I’ve had to work hard to stay in the teams at United, but I am very lucky and proud to have played my entire career at the one club.”

For Blizzard, the journey has been filled with triumphant highs and crushing lows, as she described what had made her career so special.

“I think definitely the great people that have come through the club, that has been by far a highlight for me,” she said.

“Obviously premierships do come into play in that respect too, I am very fortunate to have won two over my journey.

“When you talk to people that have never won one, you become very appreciative that you have experienced those moments.”

Having been part of such a successful netball club, Blizzard has also had the pleasure of playing with and coaching some of the best players the Goulburn Valley has produced.

She outlined a few names that had a particularly big impact on her career.

A career full of accolades: Kara Blizzard was awarded best-on-court in the 2012 GVL B-grade grand final. Photo by Julie Mercer

“Jenny Barlow was a massive one, she was a coach and a player and it was awesome to get the opportunity to play under her,” she said.

“Di Hanslow was a massive influence in my playing career as well.

“And more recently being able to coach Jessie Barnes has been a real honour, we are great mates off the court and to see what she’s accomplished has been remarkable.”

When it comes to season 2022, this Shepparton United team could be compared to the 1998 Chicago Bulls, as Blizzard and her great friend Barnes go around for the last dance.

“Jessie was the one who convinced me to come back this year, I thought I was hanging up the shoes, but she got me back to go for one more,” she said.

“This season has been really good so far, I am lucky to keep a similar combination of girls, and we are really training hard and putting in the effort.

“It is going to be very tough for us, like all the other teams you realise it isn’t going to be as easy as you’d hoped, but I think that makes it fun and more rewarding at the end.”

She said finishing with an A-grade premiership would be incredible, as she makes way for the next generation of Demons.

“Ending on a premiership would be amazing, but if I don’t I’m sure I’ll still take so much out of the season,” she said.

“This is quite a high standard of netball in the GVL, and I think I’m coming to the end of my time.

“Definitely I can do it, but I want to see the young girls come up and take my spot.”