North Star's Charlotte Raleigh secures spot with NSW Swifts Academy Squad

FROM NORTH STAR TO SWIFTS STAR: Charlotte Raleigh. Photo: NSW Swifts.

FROM NORTH STAR TO SWIFTS STAR: Charlotte Raleigh. Photo: NSW Swifts.

Since moving to Sydney three years ago, Charlotte Raleigh's netball career has gone from strength-to-strength.

She is now on the cusp of a professional dream after being named in the NSW Swifts Academy Squad for 2021.

It puts her foot in the door to playing the highest level of the sport; the Swifts Academy plays as the second tier team to Suncorp Super Netball's NSW Swifts in the Australian Netball League.

The former New England Girls' School student moved to Sydney after finishing her Higher School Certificate in 2017 and hasn't looked back.

All while completing an undergraduate degree at Sydney University, Raleigh has been chasing her goals on the court.

She managed to snare a spot at the prestigious North Shore United netball club who play in the NSW Premier League competition and has been there for three years, and was part of the 2020 premiership winning team.

In her first year, the now 21-year-old was an import player for the Northern Territory team who played at nationals.

The following year she ended up at the NSW Institute of Sport before this year as a train-on partner for the squad she has since been named in.

Even more impressively, she's only one of three athletes from regional areas in the 22-strong squad - the other two from much larger centres in Wyong and Wagga Wagga.

It's been "quite the journey" for the young athlete who grew up in North Star before her netball career blossomed in Armidale, Glen Innes and in the Northern Inland Academy of Sport.

For a young country girl, moving to Sydney could be "overwhelming" at times but she wouldn't take any of it back.

Raleigh said since she's learned so much about the sport.

"It is definitely a more intensive and professional environment," she said.

"You are opened up to more aspects of the game, they do a lot of strength and conditioning, physio, performance analysis, nutrition, broaden your knowledge of being an athlete as a lifestyle versus just doing Saturday netball on Lynches courts - I still miss that though."

But when she looks back on the journey, she still has to pinch herself.

"I am going home in less than a week," she said.

"I think that is when it will really sink in, not only the distance it will take to get home but going home and being on our property, it definitely puts in perspective how far I have grown."

While netball is where she has thrived, Raleigh's first love was swimming.

In fact, she got her start in NIAS for in the swimming squad before being selected in the netball squad.

She still loves the water sport, stating she spends time in the pool when she can and works part-time as a Learn To Swim instructor which she "loves."

While her parents have been the biggest influence on any of her sporting endeavours, Raleigh named NIAS, Glen Innes and Armidale netball coaches Kirsty and Julie Fuller as well as Rochelle Joyce as having played a major part in beginning her career on the court.

"They made me fall in love with netball and saw some potential in me and they worked hard for me to gain the confidence to see that as well as for me to strive for where I am today."

And she's definitely keen to give the same guidance to young netballers in the same vein as the coaches who have helped her along the way.

"I would love to coach and give back as much as I could if I was in a rural centre, to NIAS and coaching in Armidale or Glen Innes or North Star, but that is hard living in Sydney," Raleigh said.

"Even if I am a strand of inspiration to someone out there, that's good."

But first things first, she wants to go all the way with her own career.

This story A Swift rise: Raleigh one step closer to Super Netball dream first appeared on The Armidale Express.