The final Sunshine Coast Lightning roster spot has been filled with young shooter Charlie Bell named as an injury replacement.
The 197cm Bell revealed she broke down in tears receiving the “dream” call she hoped would come after starring for Queensland on the representative stage.
There had been plenty of speculation over who would take injured shooter Reilley Batcheldor’s place in the Lightning squad for 2023, after the youngster suffered her second ACL tear playing in the Australian Netball League in late August.
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On Wednesday, the Lightning confirmed former Queensland Firebirds training partner Bell had signed as their 10th player.
“When I got the call from (coach Reynolds) Belinda telling me she wanted to sign me into the team, I felt a drop in my stomach and instantly thought ‘this isn’t a dream, this is really happening right here right now’,” Bell said.
“I kept my cool for the remainder of the phone call but inside I was screaming with excitement and honestly shed a tear when I hung up.
“I am really looking forward to developing my craft and game smarts within a new team, particularly in the circle under Cara (Koenen) and Steph (Wood) who I’ve looked up to throughout my netball journey. They have so much experience between the two of them and have such an amazing connection so I’m probably most excited to be a sponge and learn as much as I can.”
New coach Belinda Reynolds, who only recently joined the club after working as an assistant at the West Coast Fever under both Dan Ryan and Stacey Marinkovich, said she was thrilled to have Bell on board.
“Charlie’s athletic attributes and stature provide us great versatility to our game plan which will complement the rest of our team,” she said.
“I am looking forward to working with Charlie to continue to develop her netball career, she has a bright future ahead of her.”
It is a surprise move by Bell, given she loomed as a potential pregnancy replacement for Gretel Bueta, who last month announced she was expecting her second child.
With the Super Netball season to start in early March to allow for the upcoming World Cup in late July, Bueta won’t feature for the Firebirds in 2023.
Her replacement will secure the last spot currently available on a Super Netball roster.
Bell ended up one of the top scorers in the recent ANL series where Queensland finished as bronze medallists.
The 21-year-old will officially join the Lightning next week as part of pre-season training.
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 2023 SQUAD
Charlie Bell, Mahalia Cassidy, Kadie-Ann Dehaney, Tara Hinchliffe, Cara Koenen, Annie Miller, Karla Pretorius, Laura Scherian, Kate Walsh, Steph Wood
Training partners: Bridey Condren, Ava Black, Martina Reekers, Leilani Rohweder