Playing 200 Bupa Victorian Netball League games is one thing.
Playing all 200 of them at the same club is another achievement entirely.
This Wednesday we honour one of our club’s greatest ever players and most willing servants, Lil O’Sullivan, as she takes to the court for her 200th game in Hawks colours.
Joining the Hawks – then known as Melbourne Central – in 2006, O’Sullivan quickly established herself as one of Victoria’s premier midcourters, underlined by her selection in Victorian state teams, as a Melbourne Phoenix squad member in the national competition and as an interstate selection for the Canberra Darters in the Australian Netball League.
Known for her creative smarts and also her work ethic off the court, she also spent a season plying her trade in Adelaide in 2011, but the Hawks were always her home, and she returned in subsequent seasons and didn’t miss a beat.
O’Sullivan was a member of the club’s 2008 Championship division premiership side and has played in numerous finals series in the years since.
She was coaxed out of semi-retirement in 2018 and helped lead the Hawks back to their first finals series since 2013, and again suited up in 2019 after injuries hit the team hard in the early part of the season.
In typically selfless style, O’Sullivan paid tribute to the coaches and team mates who’ve shared the court with her over the past 14 seasons.
“It has been a real privilege to play for such an amazing club, and I feel incredibly grateful to have been coached by a number of incredible coaches throughout the years both at club and state level,” she said.
“I owe a lot of my career to (former head coach) Gillian Lee. Without her believing in my when I was 13 years old, I honestly don’t think I would have been able to achieve what I have.
“But the best part about playing for the club over the years has been playing with a number of my closest friends.”
Hawks head coach Jacqui Hansen said while O’Sullivan might have lost a little of her speed over the years, she’d lost none of the creative spark that had made her a such a match-winner for so long.
“We essentially begged her to come back and play this season because you just can’t teach what Lil has,” Hansen said.
“Lil has always been able to find ‘the spot’, perfectly, every time.”
“She’s certainly been known for her ability just to read exactly where the ball should go … and she brings other people into the game.”
“Above all else she’s just a wonderful club person and we’ve been very lucky to have her around the place for so long.”
O’Sullivan will play her 200th game against Southern Saints this Wednesday, June 26 at 9.40pm on Court 2 at the State Netball and Hockey Centre.