Jake’s aiming high as he shoots for his goals

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By Jen Gourley

Do you remember what you were doing on Easter Sunday this year? Unwrapping chocolate eggs, going to church, spending time with loved ones? Jake Lipsys certainly remembers what he was doing. The 17-year-old Biloela State High School student was in Adelaide playing for the Queensland Sun’s Inaugural Regional Under 23s Men’s Netball team!

Jake, who has been playing netball ever since he fell in love with the game in Grade 4, was selected for the Suns team to compete in the Australian Men’s and Mixed Netball Association (AMMNA) Championships from April 17-24.

Currently part of the mixed team Aftershock in the Biloela Netball Association competition with a group of Year 12 friends, playing in an all-men’s team at a national level was a new and exciting challenge for Jake.

“It was awesome,” Jake said. “It was definitely the hardest netball I’ve ever played. It was at top level and took a bit of adjusting to, but I really enjoyed the experience.”

What was it like playing in a competition with all guys, and guys that are a few years older?

“Well, I knew what to expect because I’d seen a bit of that level played but being out there was another thing altogether,” Jake said. “It was really physical, but I felt like I adapted pretty well. It was a new opportunity and I think I put in my best effort.”

As part of the Suns team, Jake played in three different positions – Goal Attack, Goal Shooter and Wing Attack and it was hectic.

“There were five days of Round Robin games – two games each day, then we played finals after that. Our team was knocked out in the elimination final against Western Australia. It would have been a couple more games that we would have had to win after that to make the grand final.”

Jake playing for the Queensland Suns in Adelaide.

As well as the thrill of competing with the Suns in Adelaide, Jake’s talents have landed him in the Capricorn Gold Development Squad.

The squad consists of very proficient netball players from the region who, under the guidance of the best coaches, try to develop their game and take it to the next level. Jake is the only boy in the squad but being the only boy has never stopped his enthusiasm and passion for netball.

“I like that you can play as a team,” Jake said. “There’s a bit of a cycle – I enjoy it because I’m good at it and I’m good at it because I enjoy it.”

Some onlookers are not keen on boys playing with girls in netball but that hasn’t deterred Jake.

“Some of the older generation, who don’t quite agree with the fact that boys should be playing, sometimes they get a bit snarky with you,” Jake said. “But I’m a bit contrarian. It’s like, yeah, you can think what you want – I’m gonna enjoy myself.

“The Biloela Netball Association has been incredibly supportive.

“It’s fun and exciting being part of everything inaugural. I’m the first boy to do this, the first boy to be in the Capricorn squad and the first boy from this region to go to Nationals.”

Jake’s parents, Brenda and Anthony Lipsys are incredibly proud of Jake’s achievements and his perseverance.

“We’ve just really loved watching his netball journey, ever since he first started playing,” Brenda said. “Phoenix was his local team that he first started playing with and that was very much unchanged the whole time. He came up with the Phoenix crowd and that was fabulous. And then to watch him play because he’s not afraid to take a risk and to try things even if he’s the only one. He was the first boy to go down to the State Age Championships and the first one to put his hand up for the Capricorn Gold Squad.”

Jake’s Dad is also the driving force behind Jake – quite literally.

“Anthony, my husband, is the one who drives him all over the state to go trials and games. Even when it’s two weekends in a row in Brisbane,” Brenda said.

Now in his senior year at high school, Jake hopes to attend university in Brisbane next year, which will also make life as a netballer considerably easier, instead of having to travel seven hours to get to the city, and offer greater convenience and opportunities for training and trialling for teams.

Jake hopes to eventually play in the Queensland Suns’ open men’s team and competing in the Olympics in Brisbane in 2032 is also a goal.

The number of boys and men playing netball has grown considerably since Jake started playing as a nine-year-old.

“There’s been a lot of development and progress in the last four or five years of boys’ netball because once upon a time, you couldn’t play past 12 years of age,” Brenda said. “After that you had to change sports.”

Now, boys can continue playing in their teen years and onwards, and Jake is seeing a lot more younger boys follow in his footsteps in the Biloela competition.

“When I started, I was one of the only ones,” he said. “Now there are a couple of boys in most teams.

“I hope that I’ve inspired some of the younger ones, and it might lead to continued growth in the game.”

Jake warming up before a game in Biloela.
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