BASKETBALL was Jake Hederics passion growing up in Sunraysia.

As a child he played for Wildcats Basketball Club and represented Mildura playing Junior Heat.

He grew up in Trentham Cliffs, attending Gol Gol Primary School, Coomealla High School and Mildura Senior College before moving to Adelaide for university.

Moving to South Australia ignited a passion he didn’t know he had for another sport – netball.

And now, just a few years later, Hederics has once again been chosen for the Australian Men’s and Mixed Netball Association Open Men’s Squad and will represent his country on court.

“I first started playing netball for Aquinas College before trialing for the South Australian Open Men’s team,” Hederics explained.

“I debuted at the Australian Men’s and Mixed Netball (AMMNA) Nationals for SA at the age of 21 and was selected in the Australian Under 23 team that year – needless to say it was a jump in the deep end for my first year as a competitive netballer.

“In the years that followed I continued to play for SA (captaining the team), and each year since I have been selected in the Australian Men’s Squad.”

In 2020 Hederics moved to Melbourne and was selected for the Victorian Open Men’s team and was further more awarded the honour of being vice captain of the team.

The team this year had a successful week at the AMMNA Nationals, defeated in the Grand Final by NSW.

Apart from representing both South Australia and Victoria, Hederics has played two major domestic men’s netball competitions – the South Australian M-League and the Victorian M-League.

His most recent team, St Therese, were last season crowned premiers of the competition, winning the Grand Final by 15 goals.

Hederics predominately plays Goal Defence (GD), but his versatility is one of his strengths and at this year’s Nationals he played all positions except Centre (C) and Wing Attack (WA).

Followers locally of netball will recognise the link between the Hederics name and netball.

Hederic’s Mum, Melisa Hederics has been a successful coach, while his sister Amanda (now Edwards) involved in the Sunraysia Football and Netball League.

“My mum and sister are both netball fanatics, heavily involved in netball for most of their lives and still to this day,” Hederics said.

“My sister, Amanda, is a celebrated player and coach in the SNFL.

“She represents the Wenty Roos(Wentworth) as the A Grade coach and star player, while my mother has been a very successful coach – bringing the Gol Gol Hawks their first ever netball premiership several years ago and is now coaching the Wenty B Grade team.

“Both are huge inspirations to me and also my biggest fans and supporters – I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

“And yes, I would beat my sister on the court if it ever came to that,” Hederics added with a laugh.

Hederics said he enjoys the game of netball for different reasons.

“Firstly, netball is a great workout, for 60 minutes you are constantly sprinting, changing direction, leaping and jumping for the ball.

“That’s not to mention that anyone who thinks netball is a ‘non contact sport’ clearly hasn’t played the game, or had the opportunity to watch men play the game; it is extremely physical and at the elite level requires athletes to be in peak fitness.

“Netball is also an extremely team-centered game, unlike most court sports you must pass the ball and connect with all teammates in order to score.

“In netball there are no ball hogs, you must learn to trust, rely on and even predict your teammates next moves.

“Netball is also all about quick thinking and decision making, with the three second rule, footwork limitations and zones on the court, players are always thinking and it requires a lot of focus – a skill that is underrated.

“Lastly what I love about netball is that it’s truly universal, regardless of age, gender, size, ability or skill, anyone can play.”

Hederics’ said he often has to pinch himself when he gets the opportunity to train alongside some of the best netballers in the world.

“While I love playing in the men’s competition, the sport has also given me the opportunity to train with many of the Suncorp Super Netball teams such as the Adelaide Thunderbirds, Collingwood Magpies, Melbourne Vixens and several others,” he said.

Hederics said being in the Australian men’s squad is a huge honor and the opportunities it will bring him are very exciting, although no announcements have been made as of yet.

“However, there have been talks with Netball Australia and people should watch this space for some very exciting news that will be coming soon,” he added.

Outside of netball, Hederics is a Primary School teacher and is also completing a Masters Degree of Social Work at Monash University, studying part time.

– ZOEY ANDREWS

PHOTOS SUPPLIED BY CLUSTERPIX PHOTOGRAPHY.