Perseverance and outstanding performances for their state have earned South West netballers Riley Culnane and Ella Taylor scholarships for the Western Australian Institute of Sport.
Riley, from Busselton, and Ella, from Dunsborough, form the dynamic defensive duo for the ECU Souwest Jets team.
The pair are also teammates at Bunbury’s South West Academy of Sport.
The teenagers will have access to world-class facilities and support services through their scholarships.
The aim of the program is to support the development of WA netballers who are considered capable of progressing to the highest representative levels.
Riley, who also plays for Busselton in the South West Football Netball League, said it was a huge boost for their aspiring netball careers.
“It is another step forward on the pathway,” she said.
“We are training with West Coast Fever academy girls as well as having access to all this guidance to help us along the pathway, not just with netball but with our personal and school lives.”
The duo will travel to Perth twice a week to attend the institute.
Riley, a Year 12 St Mary MacKillop College student, is stuying for her Australian Tertiary Admission Rank. In 2019 she plans to move to Perth and take a short break from her studies to pursue her netball career.
Ella, a Year 11 at Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School, is also an ATAR student.
She moved her schooling to Bunbury to be closer to training sessions.
The 16-year-old said all the hard work was paying off.
“Making the institute is overwhelming at first but knowing we have all these facilities available and all this help backing us up is reassuring,” she said.
“It’s going to be a couple of long drives but it will all be worth it in the end.”
Both want to take their sporting success as far as possible, eyeing off futures with the West Coast Fever and the Western Sting, and even donning the green and gold for the Australia Diamonds.
“That is always in the back of my mind but it is always one step at a time,” Ella said.
“This is a big step for the both of us and it just feels good to be here – it is only up from here.”
Riley agreed and said it was amazing to be on the journey together.
“That’s what the exciting thing is, we will both be playing for Jets while being in the WAIS program so we will be developing at the same time,” she said.
The pair thanked their families and teams for their support.
“It’s every exciting for us but we can’t do it alone, we’ve had great support from South West Academy of Sport and the entire South West,” Riley said.