End of an era for Steel legend
It’s time to hang up the bib for Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel captain Wendy Frew.
Frew announced today she will retire from playing netball at the end of the Steel’s 2018 campaign.
“I know the time is right for me so I just want to get on with the season now and do as much as I can to get the title and go back-to-back,” Frew said.
“People are still playing past 33 but I know for me I’ve always wanted to finish my career still on the court, not sitting on the bench. I’ve always been pretty big on that and, while I could keep chipping away for the next couple of years, I feel like I’m going out on my own terms.
“It’s also contracting time for the franchise and I really want them to recruit another strong team for 2019 so it was important for me to let them know my plans so they can move forward. We need to get selections underway for a good team that will continue to be really competitive in the league.”
Recently named ILT Southland Sportsperson of the Year, the iconic midcourter was thrust into the sport’s top echelon in 2002 while still at high school and has featured in 16 national campaigns for the Southern franchise, including its predecessor the Southern Sting.
Frew has racked up an impressive 170 elite games so far.
After combating injuries resulting in over 70 stitches following the team’s van crash in June 2017 and then rupturing her Achilles tendon just a month later, Frew’s return to the court has been inspirational.
“I was determined to get through the injuries, do the rehab and get back out on that court,” she said.
“If I’d retired last season, I felt like the Achilles injury would have defined my career and I wasn’t going to let that happen. It’s been hard yards but totally worth it.”
Married to Trent, the couple have two children – Archie, 5, and Indie, 2 and a half. Frew admits juggling professional netball with family life has proved challenging at times but they’ve been “blessed with truly amazing support” from their parents, siblings and friends.
“As a parent, there’s times when I am away a lot and in and out the door … it’s just something we’ve lived with but it will be nice to be 100 percent committed to them as a mum and wife,” she said.
“Trent’s been amazing and so supportive throughout my career. Having both kids added a new dimension to it but he’s my rock and really just made it easy to focus on netball when I needed to which has allowed me to keep playing.
“The kids have enjoyed the journey too – they’ve loved it. I’m going to miss them being part of the team and I know they will feel sad about it because the girls have embraced them over the years and they definitely have a lot of aunties.
“It’s meant so much seeing my kids develop their own relationships with the players – it’s been really special. They will have such fond memories of the Steel experience and, like me, they will have those forever.”
She was confident the Steel was in good heart.
“The franchise has done really well bringing players into our environment to develop them. When I was playing half games earlier this season we had three very good wing d’s come on and do well so I think there’s a lot of talent coming through and they’ll definitely take over the wing defence bib with a lot of pride and passion.”
Steel chief executive, Lana Winders, said it had been an "enormous privilege" to work alongside Frew.
“Wendy is the epitome of everything that is strong and good about the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel. A shrewd interpreter of the game, a complete leader and a generous giver of her heart, knowledge and wisdom on and off the court to the players, the franchise and our fans,” she said.
“Whilst we would love Wendy to stay as a player, we fully respect and support her decision to retire. Wendy’s sense of responsibility is such that in recent years she has been instrumental in supporting the growth of our emerging leaders and young players within the team. Our focus now will be working with Wendy to determine her future involvement with the Steel in a support role.”