Midway through the 2014 season, Netball NSW junior and shooting legend Catherine Cox announced her retirement from all forms of the game following the conclusion of the ANZ Championship… and what a dream end to her career the 38-year-old has enjoyed!
No one could have written the script more perfectly, with ‘Cath’ finishing her playing days on court for the final whistle of the 2014 ANZ Championship Grand Final – her second Championship winning season.
Coming on for the final 15 minutes, Cath finished with six goals to her name and an ANZ Championship Premiers Medal round her neck as her side – the Melbourne Vixens – finished 11-goal victors over the Queensland Firebirds.
Cath finishes her career having ticked all the boxes possible in our sport; Commonwealth Games and World Netball Championship Gold Medals, dual-ANZ Championship Winner, back-to-back former National Netball League Champion, Hall of Fame recognition, as well as individual accolades.
The goal shooter began her State representative journey in 1992 with the NSW 17/U Team, going on to further Waratah honours with the NSW 19/U Team (1993-94) and NSW Opens (1995-1998).
Cath was a member of the Sydney Swifts in the former National Netball League (1997-1999, 2002-2007) and captained the NSW Swifts in the ANZ Championship for four seasons (2008-2011), including the inaugural 2008 ANZ Championship winning season.
With 251 elite netball games (combined ANZ Championship and former netball league) under her belt, Cath finished with 2,149 ANZ Championship goals to her name and was a staple of the Australian Netball Team for more than a decade, representing the Green & Gold on 108 occasions.
Someone who had a regular front row seat to watching Cath in action was her former Swifts and Diamonds teammate and shooting partner, Susan Pettitt (nee Pratley).
Together the pair turned defenders inside out, with their mobile play and tag-team shooting. The first time the two shooters played together was during the Australians 2006 Commonwealth Games campaign; Susan had joined the Sydney Swifts from Canberra, however the season was starting after the international tournament.
“I don’t really remember too many details of that first time playing together, only because the whole experience was so grand and daunting. However what I do remember is that it didn’t take too long for us to gel.”
The duo would feature together in the shooting circle, both on the domestic and international stage, for six years – Cath, the already established star and ‘Prats’, the new kid on the block. While Cath was the older and more experienced of the two, Susan says she never felt intimidated by her presence.
“She really loved and looked after her teammates. For us it just clicked; we both had strengths we brought to the partnership and we worked hard to develop that combination over a number of years. Even when we hadn’t played together during the 2012 ANZ Championship, we came together during the International Series later that year, and it was like nothing had changed,” Susan admitted.
However from all the memories playing together, for Susan it’s the friendship that developed off the court that she really treasures.
“Cath is a dear friend to me, and will be when netball is all over. It sounds clichéd but with Cath – what you see is what you get. She’s the ultimate professional and takes her job seriously on court; but off court she’s a bit of a goofball and likes to make life fun.”
“It will be sad not seeing her on court next season, but the legacy she has left behind is a testament to Cath’s hard work and dedication to our sport. She is a legend,” Susan concluded.
Applause and praise has followed Cath around the country, and indeed the world, since her retirement in April, and we suspect will continue to do so into the future.