PLAYING on the outside courts at Mangoplah to signing autographs as a Super Netball player is a fair ascent for any teenager to wrap their head around.
But the level-headedness of Wagga 18-year-old Sophie Fawns and a mindset to "still have fun with it all" has been a key factor in becoming a NSW Swifts regular this year.
The season came to a gut wrenching end for Fawns and the Swifts on Monday. Minor premiers Melbourne Vixens, who needed to beat Collingwood by three or more to elevate NSW into finals, fell just short with a two-point win.
Shooter Fawns began the year as a Swifts training partner, but became a permanent member of the team when Jamaican international Samantha Wallace suffered a season-ending knee injury.
The situation may have flustered many others her age but the maturity of Fawns, who played for Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes in the Riverina League last year, ensured she didn't look out of place.
"During the season you don't have too much time (to reflect), but you have those moments where you realise this is all I've ever wanted to do," she said.
"Seeing all these people watching me, it reminded me of when I was younger watching the shooters in warm ups on TV and thinking 'I could never do that, I'm too scared.'
"Some of the (Swifts) girls still remind me they can't believe I was playing outdoor netball last year, and the next here I am."
Fawns was courtside on Monday to watch Wagga in their state senior titles campaign, where she posed for photos after being part of the team herself just a couple of years ago.
"I'm still having fun with it all. I'm still young and you're only young once," she said.
"People always joke to me I'm famous, and I definitely don't think I am. Even the fans at the game who ask you to sign stuff and they say they're your biggest fans, it's cool.
"I definitely think it helped a lot, my maturity has helped adapt to everything."
"Things happened a fair bit faster than what I expected, but I've learnt so much and the girls have been so supportive of me, learning what it's like to be in the elite athlete environment."
Fawns said the extra training she pushed herself through at Wagga growing up had been a key factor in her success.
"100 per cent, I definitely think so," she said.
"I guess at the time you're going through the motions, training and not being sure what may come of it.
"But I'm really grateful something has come of it and talking to a few of my friends back in Wagga, I even forgot we used to go for runs and do extra training on those hot summer days.
"I just thought I can't believe I would do that, and look where it got me."
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