Collingwood Magpies foundation player Shae Brown and veteran goaler Erin Bell have today announced their retirements from professional netball.
With over 250 national league games between them, the pair informed teammates and staff this afternoon that the 2018 season would be their last.
After joining the Magpies in the newly formed Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) competition in 2017, Collingwood vice-captain Shae Brown is closing the door on a distinguished career of 12 seasons at the elite level.
“I want to thank the Collingwood Magpies and my former club, the West Coast Fever, for giving me this amazing opportunity to play the game that I love at the highest level for over a decade,” Brown said.
“I have loved the comradery and the competitiveness, but most of all, I’ve loved playing with my teammates and this group that we’ve had here at the Pies.
“During my time at Collingwood, I’ve been able to pursue another passion of mine in my professional career outside of netball, and I’m excited to take on this opportunity with the same tenacity as I’ve done with my netball career.
“I will miss my teammates and my Magpie family, but the time is right for me now to step away and let the next group of young stars shine and take this team forward.”
After debuting with the Melbourne Kestrels in 2006, Brown flew across the Nullarbor to join the West Coast Fever in the inaugural ANZ Championship season.
Brown returned home in 2017 after eight years and 100 games for the Fever franchise, becoming a foundation player for Magpies Netball.
With her leadership and professionalism, Brown quickly became one of the most loved and popular Collingwood players among her teammates and the Magpie supporters.
Outgoing Collingwood head coach, Kristy Keppich-Birrell, credited Brown’s character and resilience during her time with the Pies.
“Shae is an extraordinary person and athlete. Her humility is something that most of us can only ever hope to emulate,” Keppich-Birrell said.
“Her success on and off the court can be measured by the influence she has had on the team as a whole. Her commitment to the program and to her teammates is to be admired and celebrated.
“Shae has sacrificed so much for this team. She’s played a number of roles and has done so with integrity and class throughout.”
Bell joined Collingwood for the 2018 season as one of Australian netball’s most decorated goalers.
Originally from Sydney, Bell started her 15-year elite level career with the New South Wales Swifts before joining the Adelaide Thunderbirds in 2010.
After successful stints at both clubs, Bell became the first player in the now-defunct ANZ Championship to win three premierships, and captained the Thunderbirds in her final two seasons with the club.
The 31-year-old also boasts two Netball World Cup gold medals with the Australian Diamonds, after making her international debut in 2011.
Ahead of her final game on Saturday, Bell said she was proud to finish up her career at the Magpies.
“I’ve been on this amazing journey for 15 years and I’m excited to start a new chapter of my life away from netball,” Bell said.
“At the Swifts, the Thunderbirds and now the Pies, I’ve played with some incredible teammates, played under some great coaches and have experienced the highs and lows that netball has to offer, and I feel very lucky to have been a part of this great sport.
“After a few challenging years in my career, I’ve really enjoyed playing netball again this season, and I can truly say that’s because of the elite environment, the support and the people that make up the Collingwood Magpies, so I’m grateful to be able to finish up my time here and at peace with my career as a whole.”
After coaching Bell at both the Thunderbirds and at the Magpies, Keppich-Birrell said she has loved working with the veteran again this year.
“Erin has experienced the extreme highs and lows of our sport and her resilience as a person and an athlete is something I have always personally admired,” Keppich-Birrell said.
“Her love for the game and her ability to compete every week has made our team stronger this year.
“And as for those long-range shots, well, I can only hope there is some little girl out there who has the courage and finesse to take them like she does in the future.”
The Magpies’ final game of the 2018 season will be played at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, against the Queensland Firebirds, on Saturday.
Age: 29 years old
Positions: WA, C, WD, GA
Games: 134* (as of Round 13, 2018)
Clubs: Melbourne Kestrels (2006-07), West Coast Fever (2009-16), Collingwood Magpies (2017-18)
Represented Australia at the World Netball Fast5 Series (2012)
West Coast Fever’s Players’ Player (2016)
Collingwood Magpies vice-captain (2018)
Age: 31 years old
Positions: GA, GS, WA
Games: 144* (as of Round 13, 2018)
Clubs: Sydney Swifts (2005-07), New South Wales Swifts (2008-09), Adelaide Thunderbirds (2010-17), Collingwood Magpies (2018)
3x ANZ Championship Premiership: Adelaide Thunderbirds (2010, 2013), Swifts (2008)
Australian Diamond #156
Australian Diamond debut (2011)
2x Gold Medal winner at World Championships (Singapore 2011) and (Sydney 2015)
Adelaide Thunderbirds Captain (2016-17)
Fast5 Netball World Series Melbourne (2016)