Almanac Memoir: This Sporting Life, So Far

To our daughter and sister Hannah on your 25th Birthday.

This is a site for sporting stories, but looking back, you’ve played a bit of sport so far, so here goes.

You were a handful, weren’t you? Your first attempt at organised recreation was Kindergym at Brighton Rec. Once a week from the age of three, our Saturday trip to Outer Crescent to see June and Kirstie saw you get to run around from exercise to exercise, while I attempted to keep up with you. That went on for a few years, but you were never blessed with the necessary grace (despite your name) to take on gymnastics as a sport.

We’d go to the occasional Crows match at Waverley and went to several of those Sunday morning clinics with the players. The shots of you in your long sleeved Crows jumper with Andrew McLeod and Darren Jarman are in the photo box somewhere. I know we’ve got those shots of you at the 1997 1998 Grand Final. Auskick was fun too; there weren’t too many six-year-old girls doing it back then. What about the time you had your picture in the Herald Sun for your letter to the editor complaining about those Richmond supporters?

Tee-ball at Ormond-Glenhuntly was next. That went on for a couple of years, and you even played baseball for a season on Friday nights, pitching against the boys and doing a great job. We knew you were a tough cookie even then.

Inevitably, it was then netball, joining the new club in 2001 that had just formed at school. Didn’t that change all our lives for the next fifteen or so years? You were fortunate to have such a good coach to start with (thanks Wendy). Do you remember meeting an Australian Goal Shooter at their house? What about your first rep tournament, the really hot one at Lilydale or the one that was washed out at Kingston and Cat’s light up sneaker went down the drain?

When your team started playing afternoons and Cat and Didge started playing too, Ormond NC took up most of our Saturdays from February to November. More rep team selection meant many Sundays as well. Apart from holidays, it has been the one thing that we’ve all done together as a family. We all know how much netball meant to you and all of us, but geez you took it seriously. Those famous chases where you’d fling the ball back in over your shoulder before it went out, while you ran full pelt off the court, almost made up for your usual half a dozen wild passes. I love it that the opponent that called you a “ferret” when you were eleven, ended up working at the same place as you in America a dozen years later.

We trooped off to the SNHC quite a few times to watch the Phoenix or the Kestrels, and the Vixens in their early days too. The Commonwealth Games, remember going to watch Wales v Malawi? We were very keen, weren’t we?

Then you started coaching, putting your own “special touches” onto what you had learnt from Wendy, Dave and Jenny. For a while there you were coaching in the morning at Caulfield and the afternoon at Sandy, finishing off with a match for your beloved Ocelots in the last timeslot. Phew. We all know that winning isn’t everything, but that one-goal Grand Final win in 2010 was pretty special. You coached a few flags too; you should think about coaching again (or even, gulp, umpiring). I hope it was character building, although we had some “interesting” moments in the car home after a long day, especially when you were coaching your sisters. We still miss the egg and bacon rolls.

(Not forgetting the couple of years that you spent on the club committee, I bet you don’t miss that.  See, I wasn’t just going out for a night of wine and cheese with the ladies all those years, was I?)

We shouldn’t leave out your High School sport on Saturday mornings. Some of the school softball was fun, you did OK as a pitcher considering you’d never had any coaching (but we might forget about that last season). And what about those cold wet Cross Country meets at Bundoora, Yarra Bend and Berwick? They came in handy for those half-marathons you ran when you were in the States I guess.

It’s been a while since you’ve been to the footy with me (maybe we could go this year), but you are still playing two or three games of netball a week (what’s with that midweek stuff?). We hope you keep it going for as long as you can.

Anyway Hank, we don’t always say it, but Mum and I are very proud of you. Sometimes. Well, most times actually, and your sporting life probably has a fair bit to do with it.

Happy 25th Birthday Hannah.

Love Mum, Dad, Cat and Didge



About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. Happy birthday Hannah. Any sheaf-tossing in the sporting career?

  2. Cat from the Country says:

    Lovely memories.
    Happy Birthday Hannah

  3. That’s a broad sporting education you’ve provided there Swish- along with Mrs Swish, no doubt. Well done. We’re trying to provide something similar for our boys. I was reflecting on these things with an old friend last Thursday and remarked that I can’t recall deciding to play footy, it was just what happened, although given that there were boys who didn’t, I suppose at some level Mum and Dad did.

    Unlike you and Hannah, I didn’t get to Waverley- and probably won’t now either. I don’t think I’m sad about this, just as I’m not especially mourning the loss of Footy Park. Running half marathons sounds like the fodder of excellent memories- I’m sure there’s some great stories in this.

    Happy birthday, Hannah.

  4. If you’ve been to Footy Park you’ve been to Waverley in my view. They were great and awful at the same time. But like all places where memories are made they have their place for me. And I suspect for many others. They both had plenty of playing space.

  5. Happy birthday Hannah. A family that plays together – stays together. We all get to relive our lives through our kids. At Uni Blacks they always said your dad should have played wing attack.

  6. Nice one Swish. Quite a sporting potpourri there! Cross country runs in Bundoora on a cold morning! Doesn’t come much bleaker than that. Like something out of a Dickens novel.

  7. Richard Karutz says:


    Happy Birthday to Hannah albeit a belated one.

    Kingmaker turned 86 today.


  8. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Hannah says thanks for your good wishes, but I think that she would rather have the money next year instead of another article.

  9. Dave Brown says:

    Happy birthday Hannah! 1997 grand final, hey? Must’ve been quite the experience for a five year old.

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Hannah’s dad got his back-to-back grand final wins mixed up. We both saw the 1998 one together, yes, it was quite the experience for a six year old.

    Maybe I’ll watch the next one with the grandkids.

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