INCOMING Colac Imperials coach Chelsea McLeod is preparing for a new era at the Cats after a mass exodus of A Grade netball premiership stars in the off-season.
The Imps have lost a host of dominant netballers, who helped the club reach the past five grand finals and secure flags in 2012, ’13 and ’14.
Two-time premiership coach Candi Robbins and defensive trio Rhiannon Whitson, Stacey Whiteford and Sarah Higgins have joined champion goaler Bec Scott, Colac Tigers, attacker Olivia Paatsch, Otway Districts, and midcourter Bianca Whitson, Camperdown, in departing Western Oval.
Higgins has moved interstate, university commitments have forced Rhiannon Whitson to play at Ballarat, Whiteford is taking the season off, while Robbins is undecided on her playing future.
Triple premiership player Jess Finch, skipper Kate Higgins and young gun Kayla Clark remain the only A Grade players from last season’s grand final side which lost the decider to cross-town rival South Colac.
McLeod, a self-confessed netball nut, takes over the reigns from 2015 co-coaches Scott and Robbins, and she said she was determined for Imps to remain a competitive force in the Colac district competition.
“The last four years we’ve been quite a strong side, we obviously had a successful time, but you can’t stay at the top forever,” she said.
“With uni and work, things have changed for a few of them in life, so they’re moving on and trying new things.
“It will be a new squad and a new look for us, but hopefully we’ll still be competitive enough to give everybody a run for their money.”
McLeod is taking on her first senior coaching role in 2016 after several stints in charge of junior teams at the Cats and with Alvie.
The mother of Emily, 14, and Layla, 7, said she was up to the task of rebuilding the club.
“It’s very challenging, but I love netball and it’ll be nice to have a different role,” McLeod said.
“I’ve mainly coached juniors at Imps and Alvie, and there were no junior coaching positions available, so I decided to put my name down for a senior role.”