Faithful four-legged netball supporter rewarded

BY ANDREA O'NEIL
Last updated 11:11 06/11/2012
06-KPN-pooch1WEB
Andera O'Neil

ROYAL TREATMENT: The Whitby Waves netball team’s mascot King was a permanent fixture on the Mungavin Courts sidelines this winter and was given a ‘‘Best supporting dog’’ Oscar by the team for his loyalty. From left, Maddie Coad, 13, Katie MacDonell, 14, Bronte Johnston, 13, Gabey Johnston, 14, and Hannah Bilderbeck, 13. Not pictured: Sienna Packer, Kajal Modi, Mikaela King, Olivia Hooper.

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He's a dynamo on the netball court sidelines, has bags of team spirit and wears his uniform with pride.

The Whitby Waves' mascot, black labrador King, was rewarded for his contribution to the senior team's collegiate 5 win this season with an Oscar for "best supporting dog", an honour he also won in 2011.

"He's got a great positive attitude. We don't ever see that tail stop wagging," says King's owner and Whitby Waves centre Bronte Johnston, 13.

"He's a hit with the team and spectators alike and lets out the odd bark which we assume means 'awesome shot' or 'great pass'."

Four-year-old King is such a netball fan that it's sometimes hard to keep him off the court during games, Bronte says.

When the team got their uniforms last year it was natural for King to have a jacket to match, embroidered with the team's logo, she says.

He trained as a guide dog when he was a puppy so is used to wearing a coat, she says.

The Whitby Waves club was formed in 2011 when Bronte and her friend Hannah Bilderbeck were year 8 students at Samuel Marsden Whitby and had no school netball team to join.

Their mums Sandi Johnston and Sandra Bilderbeck realised there was a huge need for an intermediate-age netball team in the suburb.

"As soon as we said what we were doing, that was it, we had a team," Mrs Johnston says.

This year, the original team has moved up to the year 9/10 level, and another group of boys and girls has formed the junior squad.

The seniors have had a stellar season, moving up from collegiate 8 to collegiate 5 early on, then winning their grade in a 32-21 final against St Mary's College.

The team was beaten only four times the whole winter, and for one of those games had only six players on the court.

King will naturally support the senior Waves in 2013, but may have a competitor for the Oscar - the junior team has also adopted a canine mascot, golden retriever Kaia.

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