In a coup for Melbourne University Lightning, former Suncorp Super Netball coach Kristy Keppich Birrell has joined the Club as its new Coach Development Manager. The inaugural Collingwood Magpies SSN coach, Keppich Birrell has arguably a most impressive netball coaching resume. Before heading up the Magpies, Keppich Birrell was the assistant, and then interim head coach of the Adelaide Thunderbirds. She’s also coached various Victorian underage state teams as well as ANL team, the Victorian Fury. The High Performance-accredited coach also works in sport-education as College Head of Sport at Overnewton Anglican Community College.
MU Lightning President Lindy Murphy was ecstatic to entice a coach with Keppich Birrell’s experience to the Club.
“Kristy will take on more of a coach education, coach welfare and mentoring role with our coaching group, working one on one with individual coaches”, said Murphy.
“Our Club prides itself on being a pathway for our players to reach higher honours in the Victorian state teams, the ANL and Suncorp Super Netball. We’re also the committed to providing ongoing professional development opportunities for our coaches to progress through the netball high performance pathway”, added Murphy.
MU Lightning’s VNL coaches have plenty of previous experience coaching Victorian underage state teams, with Championship coach Elissa Kent having also led the Tasmanian Magpies in the 2019 ANL competition. Keppich Birrell’s new Coach Development Manager role will work closely with all of the Club’s coaches from Championship to 19 & Under, as well as its development team coaches. While the Lightning coaches will be the primary beneficiary of Keppich Birrell’s appointment, the Club also anticipates a trickle-down effect on its playing group with another passionate and respected netball identity able to be called upon for their advice and experience.
“I’m really excited to be joining Melbourne University Lightning” said Keppich Birrell.
“In recent years, the Club has helped to develop numerous Suncorp Super Netball and ANL players, and that’s testament to the efforts of their coaches and the Club’s supportive and inclusive program in general. I’m really excited to work with a very talented coaching group, and to ultimately help the Club to continue its development in the high performance space”.
While welcoming Keppich Birrell to the Lightning, the Club is also recognizing the hard work of Director of Coaching Karen Worland, who is stepping down after three very successful years in this role. Thankfully, the High Performance-accredited coach is remaining on the Lightning’s General Committee. Club President Murphy paid tribute to Worland’s contribution to the Club.
“The Club cannot thank Karen enough for the foundation she’s laid as Director of Coaching over the past three years. Her leadership style, integrity, professionalism and capacity to work collaboratively with all of our coaches, has been welcomed and very much appreciated by all of us. ”