Mighty Mikaela Minns leads from the front and finds her true calling

THERE is no better way to describe Mikaela Minns than fit. Having played a combination of basketball, swimming, running and netball, Minns did it all.

Minns grew up in a very sporty family being the youngest of five children. All of her siblings were into sport and her parents encouraged sport from a young age. The Minns family would always go for joint runs and different life saving events.

“I was always surrounded by a lot of sports and was encouraged to do a lot of sports,” she told Rookie Me Central. “From a young age, I was always trying to catch up to my siblings.”

Minns grew up swimming competitively with a specialty in backstroke, but originated in the butterfly. She made the tough decision to give up swimming in April of 2023, ultimately choosing netball when given the ultimatum of deciding which sport to pursue.

“Weirdly enough when I was younger, I used to be like a butterflier and I used to do butterfly for fun,” she said.

“I think the first ever two hundred metres I did was actually a two hundred metre butterfly. I did it once, was traumatised, and never did it again.”

It was a difficult time balancing both loves whilst in school. There was a fine line between getting enough sleep and having time to study, as well as going to training and competitions. Her coaches required her to compete, but at times Minns had her netball commitments.

Minns at 8-years-old at the pool lifesaving state championships (Image: Supplied)

“I actually started playing basketball, and then my sister was scouted by Marg Lind at the Falcons because she was doing the rep program at Williamstown High School,” she said.

Minns got dragged across to netball with her sister Tiara when Mikaela was 11 years-old. Tiara has always been Mikaela’s idol growing up as she “always strives to do the best in whatever she’s doing whether that be in school or sport”.

Tiara’s perseverance always stood out to Mikaela having picked up rugby as well along the way and has found success in both codes after her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

Wanting to join along Tiara, Mikaela started to join with the City West Falcons, not training but just wanted to have a good time with her sister at training.

“They (Falcons) gave me an open invitation to come whenever I wanted, so I would come along with my sister,” Minns said. “It was definitely a learning experience, surrounded by a lot of experienced players.”

Mikaela began her netball journey at her local club in Altona. She gained confidence in herself and her skill set to trial for the Falcons junior programme they were running.

Deciding to take another step forward in her development, Minns played with Westside Saints for a few years under Darren Abela whilst playing for Altona representative side.

Minns winning a Parkville Netball premiership with Westside Saints (Image: Supplied)

Minns was offered her first under 19s contract with the Falcons in 2020 while on a scholarship, but since that season was cancelled she does not count it. She classifies 2021 as her first official season in the Victorian Netball League (VNL).

The scholarship helped Minns find the transition from the Falcons junior programme into the under 19s side to be smoother having already been used to the Falcons environment.

The intensity at training was the same, the expectations were the same, the familial atmosphere was the same.

“It was a pretty good transition because at the City West Falcons, all the teams and the scholarships and everything, we all train together,” she said. “It was pretty smooth because you’re always surrounded by a similar atmosphere.

“You’re always surrounded by people who can guide you as well as different players, so I feel like for me, it was a pretty smooth transition.”

Minns flew over to Darwin in April 2023 to compete in the National Netball Championships with the Victorian under 19s team.

She described it as an overall great experience getting to work with Tracey Brereton and other coaches, getting exposed to different styles.

“As a player, I got a lot of learning from all players around me and I also spent a lot of time on the bench this year,” she said.

“But it was definitely a good learning experience and I got to learn a lot no matter what.”

Minns representing Victoria as an under 17s athlete in 2022 (Image: Supplied)

Her work ethic secured her a spot in the 2023 Vixens Academy, getting to learn from the Vixens coaches and players at the heart of netball in Parkville. Prior to last year’s state campaign, Minns was a part of the under 17s Victorian squad who won a silver medal in Hobart.

Her outstanding campaigns earned Minns selection into the Australia Under 17s squad.

Minns was co-captain of the Falcons under 19s side in 2023. They finished the season second on the ladder losing only two games in the regular season.

It was a hotly contested grand final with either side ready to go for the challenge and win the premiership. The Falcons ended runners up by 13 goals to the Melbourne University Lightning.

Even though they were down the majority of the outing, Minns was enjoying her time being able to play her game, continue scoring goals down the other end and pushing the Lightning to their limit.

“Being able to keep trying and whenever you get an intercept, just being able to pass it off to the team and work with them to get the ball down the other end and having the achievement of not just myself,” she said.

“But also of the whole team having success. When one player succeeds, we all succeed.”

Minns playing for the City West Falcons in the VNL (Image: Supplied)

It wasn’t coming up short that stood out to Minns for the season, it was her team’s belief in her to take the reins as captain and be the leader they needed to push for victory.

“I’ve previously been a very quiet player on the court. Even if I know that I could say or take the lead on something, I’ve often in the past not spoken and waited for someone else to take the lead,” she said.

“I feel like I have grown in that aspect. I’ve been able to take more of a leadership role and have gone ahead and done some leadership or encouraged someone or done something impactful.

“I have some knowledge, and it’s encouraging to me that I can and want to become better so that I can help my team and then I can go to the next level.”

Her season with the Falcons gave Minns enough of a push to be selected into the VNL under 19s Team of the Year.

Now Minns has her eyes set on making an Australian Netball Championships (ANC) team as a training partner to learn off the experienced players and get an understanding of what’s required at that level of netball.

“To me, I’ve looked up to a lot of players who’ve been there, and I would love to get there possibly as a training partner.”

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