Up and coming defender Georgie Edgecombe has found herself in uncharted territory wearing the Magic’s wing attack bib this netball season, but she’s starting to love it, she tells Merryn Anderson.
Georgie Edgecombe wears a lot of hats. Not that long ago, she was head girl of St Peter’s School in Cambridge, represented Waikato in touch rugby, won a national title with her school basketball team, was part of the 2018 Secondary Schools Squad for netball and even broke a national swimming record at the age of 10.
She’s also just finished her bachelor of communication studies at the University of Waikato, majoring in public relations with a minor in psychology.
But one thing the 20-year-old hadn’t done before this year was put on up the wing attack bib.
Last year was Edgecombe’s first season as a fully contracted player in the ANZ Premiership, playing primarily at wing defense for the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic side that managed just one win from 15 games.
Elevated from the National Netball League team that she’d been a part of since 2019, Edgecombe played 500 minutes over 13 matches in 2021, showing her athleticism and hunger in defence.
“It was a tough season but as it was my first fully contracted year in the ANZ, I learned heaps about the high performance environment and what it takes – not just on court but also all the off-court one percenters,” says Edgecombe, who will celebrate their 21st birthday this weekend.
“And then on court, although we didn’t get the results we wanted, I took heaps of learning away from all the experienced players in the team and just tried to soak everything up as much as I could.”
Georgie Edgecombe (right) and Georgia Tong paired up in the Magic defensive end in 2021, with Edgecombe moving up the court for 2022.
When the team list was revealed for the 2022 Magic team, fans were left scratching their heads. Despite having seven players with international caps, none of the 10 contracted players were specialty wing attacks, the position key to midcourt flow and feeding shooters.
Silver Ferns Katrina Rore, Sam Winders and Claire Kersten are all strong wing defences, leaving little space for Edgecombe in the position she’s played at for most of her netballing career.
Edgecombe says incoming Magic coach Mary-Jane Araroa approached her when discussing contracts last year and raised the idea of her playing at wing attack.
“At first I was a bit shocked,” Edgecombe laughs, admitting she can’t even remember having ever played wing attack at school.
“But I was really open-minded to taking on the challenge and the opportunity.”
Her team have been very supportive of her as well – Winders, Kersten, and fellow Ferns Bailey Mes and Ameliaranne Ekenasio surrounding Edgecombe on court.
“Just knowing they’re there for me and they trust in me and my ability, it’s quite humbling but also gives me some freedom to just play and know they’ll back me up no matter what,” says Edgecombe.
Training partner Simmon Wilbore played the first game of the season at wing attack, but hasn’t taken the court since, currently recovering from a broken finger.
The constant changes with players isolating, recovering from injuries and pregnancy has been challenging, but Edgecombe isn’t using that as an excuse.
“We’ve got so much depth and experience in our team that even if there are changes, everyone can come together and dig deep for each other,” she says.
“We’re making the best of what we have and just trying to build on each week.”
So far, Edgecombe has played three games at her new position of wing attack, and has already seen notable improvement over her time on court.
The Magic started their 2022 campaign with a three-goal win over reigning champions the Northern Mystics, but crashed down to earth in Round 2 with a 16-goal loss to the Central Pulse.
Edgecombe played nine minutes in the game against the Pulse, being subbed after an untidy start.
Playing at wing attack for 45 minutes in their Round 3 match and the full 60 in Round 4, Edgecombe greatly reduced her error rate and stepped up in the midcourt, finishing her most recent game with 40 feeds – in a last-second, one goal loss to the Pulse.
“It’s been really hard but I’ve enjoyed it heaps and I’ve learned so much,” Edgecombe says on her new playing position.
“There’s still so much to learn – building on from where I am now and seeing where I can go with wing attack and just adding that versatility to my game.”
Edgecombe’s versatility as an athlete is one of her strengths. She represented Waikato in U18 touch rugby, which was part of the St Peter’s basketball team that won the 2016 secondary schools nationals and also dabbled in swimming and athletics at school.
“I loved playing all the other sports and tried playing them as long as I could, alongside netball, just cause I loved them,” Edgecombe says.
“But eventually it comes to a point where you’ve just gotta pick one cause there’s so much training.”
Along with added court time for the Magic, her move to wing attack is adding another skill to her toolbox, the athletic player now able to cover all three midcourt positions.
“It just gives me a bit more confidence on attack,” Edgecombe says.
“It gives me that versatility and allows me to be able to put my hand up for any of the midcourt positions which is awesome and exciting.”
It also bodes well for the youngster as she looks to her future and her chances of making the national side, something she says is the “ultimate goal”.
“At this stage, I’m just focusing on Magic and putting all my efforts into making a positive impact on our team here,” Edgecombe says.
“And hopefully at some point in the future, that will translate into further selection or experience with the New Zealand team.”
A fierce competitor on court, Edgecombe is incredibly friendly and bubbly off court, her personality complementing her study in communications.
With her university graduation ceremony postponed due to Covid, Edgecombe hasn’t officially received her degree, but has finished her study. She currently works doing communications for a construction company, getting some job experience outside netball.
“Like everyone says, sport doesn’t last for a lifetime so I’m just getting myself prepared for after netball,” she says, hoping to continue her work in her chosen field.
Edgecombe was part of the New Zealand U21 team, who cruelly had their 2021 Netball World Youth Cup canceled due to Covid.
While she isn’t bitter at losing the chance to defend New Zealand’s title from 2017, Edgecombe admits it was a bit of a disappointing cycle for the young representatives.
“I feel like we trained a lot throughout the past few years together in our camps and didn’t have too many opportunities to put out on court in a game situation against some international teams,” she says.
On Sunday, Edgecombe will officially graduate from that team. She was going to celebrate her 21st birthday on court against the Stars on Sunday, but Covid has postponed both of the Magic’s games this weekend.
She might have to wait a little bit longer for her birthday wish. “Hopefully a win – that would be a great birthday present .. two wins actually,” she laughs.
* Round 5 of the ANZ Premiership has been shortened by Covid postponements, with the only game this week being a Pulse vs Steel clash on Monday, live at 7pm on Sky Sport 1.