As a middle child, young Aussie Stingers and Brisbane Barracudas player Abby Andrews is overcoming the stereotypical “forgotten middle child syndrome” on her pathway to big things.
Last week Andrews was named was named as part of the Australian Women’s Water Polo team, the Aussie Stingers, who will take on defending Olympic champions the USA, next week on the Sunshine Coast as the squad prepares for the FINA World League Intercontinental Tournament in New Zealand next month.
Andrews’ rise to national duties is somewhat a surprise to the 17 year old, who at 11-years-old had no inspirations to play water polo.
“My older sister played (water polo) and because she was playing it, I didn’t want to copy her. I am really glad my mum talked me into it, because my sister quickly dismissed it and then I went in,” said Andrews.
“I started with the Brisbane Barracudas first and I was actually in the 13Cs for my first two seasons.
“Then I started school at Brisbane Girls Grammar and pretty much rolled through the ranks there, we weren’t the most competitive teams which was very frustrating for me as a competitive person, but it was still a good experience.
A phone call from Barracuda’s women’s head coach Melissa Rippon and Andrews’ love for the Barracudas team culture has kept her at the Club that gave her a start in the sport she is fast making a name for herself.
“It’s just such a great team environment, if something bad happens in the game you just bounce back, there’s nobody really negative bringing it down and we don’t really self-destruct.
“We certainly have our moments and everyone does that, but I really like how everybody keeps their composure,” she said.
Throughout her career, which has already brought so many great domestic and national memories to Andrews, one of her standout memories stems from her earlier days.
“Back in U14s when we were all just fresh, I was pretty hopeless, I was a left hander on the wrong side of the pool which is not a great idea.
“We were in the grand final for U14 Club Nationals, I think I scored a goal from the wrong side of the pool with three seconds left to even the scores and then we went into penalties and unfortunately we lost but I scored from the wrong side of the pool which was pretty cool,” she said.
To the people who haven’t started playing or are wanting to get involved in water polo, Andrews has some simple advice.
“It’s extremely fun, it keeps you fit because it’s like a whole body work out.
“It’s also a great way to get out anger in multiple forms, it doesn’t have to necessarily be aggressive, but just start playing, it’s the best sport,” she said.
Recently Andrews was selected in Dusan Damjanovic’s Born 2000 squad which will compete in the FINA Youth World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia from August 27 to September 2.
“Everybody who goes to junior worlds just loves it and it’s such a challenge, but I love all the girls who I’m playing with, they’re just so much fun to be around, so hopefully there are big things ahead for the team,” she said.
There is a lot on her plate for the 17-year-old athlete with junior and senior National representative duties as well as studying an events, finance and economics degree at University of Queensland.
“It’s a bit of a juggle managing full time university and my water polo, because it’s full on right now with the Australian Waterpolo League,” said Andrews.
It will only continue to get tougher for Andrews as she looks to be one hundred percent focused at next week’s Aussie Stingers training camp and two test matches from March 26-31.
“I am so excited about representing the Stingers and being there and gaining all that experience.
“Being so young I know I am not up there, but it’s so great being involved and other players knowing my name.
“I definitely want tips off Iso [Isobel Bishop] because obviously as a left hander we both share that role, so it would be great to know what I’m doing wrong and the things I can improve on.
“I love the camps because you really get to improve on that leg work and it would be great if I could get in the water and cap up again, but I will just be learning as much as I can from the senior players who I aspire to one day be,” she said.
With all these national team selections, especially her Aussie Stingers debut at a young age, Andrews underestimates her current list of achievements and doesn’t get too far ahead of herself.
“I have to say friends and family are also a big influence on me and I also know how important it is to get my sleep, I’m not really a party goer and I try to get 9-10 hours.
“I have two different circles of friends. I have the water polo girls which I see often and then it’s good to have those friends who are like a total escape from water polo,” she said.
Andrews admits she is one of the most competitive people her family has ever met but there is a difference in her personality at the pool and away from pool deck.
“I’m pretty relaxed person away from the pool, I try to chill and listen to music, watch tv and get my study in, but as soon as I get to the pool I feel like I change.
“If I’m not at water polo I’m usually studying and if I’m not studying I like to switch off by enjoying Netflix, sleeping or eating, one of the three,” she said.
Over the next few years, Andrews will be chasing personal goals inside and outside the pool as she adjusts to life after school.
“I think 2024 [Paris Olympic Games] might be a little more realistic, because there are so many senior players who are so ambitious for this cycle, so it will be great to watch that unfold. I love being involved in the program and would love to stay involved and make a World Championships,” she said.
With Andrews’ focus currently on the OVO Australian Waterpolo League season, she can sometimes mix up her approach to a match, for example when Brisbane Barracudas face off against cross town rivals Queensland Breakers.
“That’s a different one, because it’s the home clash. It’s something both Barracudas and Breakers look forward to.
“It’s such a tight match because we know all the ins and outs of all those players, both teams get so excited.
“Each round is so intense though, all the Sydney teams especially are strong, there are so many of them, they can never be underestimated,” she said.
Catch Abby next time she next makes a splash for the Barracudas in OVO AWL round eight, pride and diversity round against Queensland Breakers in the anticipated derby match streamed live via OVOPlay.
Brisbane Barracudas vs Queensland Breakers
Saturday March 24, 5:30pm AEST
To view all round eight fixtures, click here