'Wonder women' who are setting the standard for Gympie sport
WELCOME to the golden era of women's sport in Gympie.
During the past 12 months, the Hammers women were one win away from a grand final appearance, Gympie Netball numbers grew and athlete Chantelle Chippendall continued improving her personal bests.
This year, the Devils and Gladiators will expand to have women sides in a traditionally rugby league town.
With the growth of women's NRL, rugby union and AFLW are expanding in Gympie to include a women's side.
Our female athletes are setting the standard.
Gympie hockey player Annie Collins travels four hours from Chinchilla regularly to play in the Queensland under-21 side.
"My next goal would be to make the Scorchers team which is the women's Queensland team,” Collins said.
"Some days are tougher than others to do those four hours but it is what I want to do and something I love doing.
"It is what you have to do to get there and you just have to do the hours.”
In a rural town there are added challenges but as sports grow, so do the opportunities.
"Growing up in a Gympie team, I guess it was always hard to get noticed because you are coming from a small town,” Collins said.
"As you grow up and work harder, there has been more opportunities that have come about.
"Hockey is not a huge sport in social media but it is becoming a fast-paced and well watched game.”
The original female participation sport, netball, is continuing its reign and goal defence Breanna Pearce is aiming for a bigger 2019.
With netball given more air time on television, there are plenty of stars to inspire the next generation.
"It is on television more and better advertised which means there are more idols to look up to,” Pearce said.
Caitlin Urwin is one to punch above her weight, playing touch and union, but this season will also take up league.
"It will be good to have a crack at everything this year, just why not,” Urwin said.
"I have played touch since under-10s and it was natural to go into the more physical sport once you have touch under control.
"When the Devils women started playing this year, it was another step with more players.”
Hammers were one game away for the big dance and it ignited a fire for the determined women to come second to none this season.
"We came close with some unlucky finals and hopefully we can get up on one of those finals and score a cup that would be amazing,” Urwin said.
"It is great playing in Gympie especially home games and getting everyone around it, also (I) don't have to travel.”
New swimming coach Rahul Dahiya has worked wonders on Jasmine White's technique.
"The new coach has made us better, I feel really strong through the water,” White said.
"There are a lot of empowering women in swimming which is great and I feel I can reach my goals of this season.”
Chippendall has had the honour of representing her state but this year she is aiming for her country.
"My goal this year is to make the Australian team,” she said.
"I have nationals in April which is one of the chances I have to qualify.
"Last year was a really good year and set me up, gave me a lot of hope for this year and I have been training really hard.”
The Cats women are leading a charge for this season and Sophie and Jodie Jones are two of the senior players leading the AFL side.
Sophie was one of the standout players for the Cats last weekend but she took up the game purely because a team needed numbers.
"I started in school. It was relatively new to females back then but they were chasing people for a team,” she said.
"You meet a lot of great people in Gympie and other towns and it is a great sport.”
With AFLW continuing for another season it is a possibility for Sophie to go further.
"It requires moving because Gympie is not a big town for AFL but if the right things happen it is something I would consider,” she said.
This is Peta Dray's first year playing rugby league but her union and touch background will make the transition easier.
"I got asked by some of the girls and I got asked for a run and I thought I would give it a crack,” she said.
"I love to watch league but I love playing union and I can't wait to get out on the pitch.
Dray will be an integral part of the squads spine at halfback but it is a challenge she is welcoming.