The opportunity to make her 150th national netball league appearance has presented itself unconventionally for Gina Crampton.

The former Stars and Silver Ferns mid-courter will join the Stars squad for Monday’s ANZ Premiership match with the Trident Homes Tactix in Christchurch as injury cover for Emma Thompson, who continues to build her match playing minutes following her return from concussion. 

Crampton took time away from netball at the end of last year, having finished her third season with the Stars on 147 national league appearances, with 98 of those coming with the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel since her debut in 2012.

Now based in Sydney, Crampton jetted across to New Zealand as injury cover to play the opening two games of this season for the Stars and is excited by the thought of bringing up her latest milestone and being the 21st New Zealander to play 150 games.

“It’s been really cool to be asked to help the Stars this year, I know they had a few injuries, so I always said to Kiri I’d hope to be first on her call up list.” Crampton said.

“It wouldn’t feel right to achieve my 150th appearance with any other team, I’ve cherished my years with the Stars and had a great time with them, so it will be a cool milestone to bring up with the girls if it happens on Monday.”

 Stars coach Kiri Wills has lauded Crampton as one of the most loyal and committed players she’s coached.

“I think longevity for the players who make it to 150 games is due to their conditioning and making sure they’re physically prepared for the rigours of netball. Gina was one of the hardest trainers in our group and is always dotting the Is and crossing the Ts when it came to physical preparedness.” Wills explains.

“Her performances are sustainable because she’s done that work. Gina’s genius is she’s been committed to and nailed the balance between netball and life.”

That balance is something Crampton has seen as a defining part of keeping her playing at the highest level for so long.

Crampton says from a young age she noted the importance of having fun on and off the court to keep the passion for netball alive.

“Early on I had people I played with for years who fell out of love with the game because it was everything they did and I think it’s becoming a big part now that you need something else outside of netball be it work, study, family time or hobbies.”

“I think netball is definitely my passion because of the people you get to play with and the relationships you build. Most of my best friends are through netball and that’s a really cool side to it which has kept me enjoying playing.”

Crampton joined the Stars in 2021 and within her three years in the purple dress, helped them to two grand finals in 2022 and 2023.

While winning the title with the Steel in 2018 is an obvious on court highlight, Crampton pinpoints the 2023 season with the Stars as one of the best of her career.

“I miss being with the girls all the time and the things we did outside of netball. We had such a tight group and the whole year was filled with hard work and lots of fun, which has been really cool to look back on now that I’m not in that space every day.” Crampton reflects.

“I think if I could repeat 2023, I wouldn’t change a thing, even maybe the grand final loss. We had such a great time and it’s so cool I’ll be able to look back at that year when I’m older as one of the greatest times of my life.” 

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