Shepparton Swans realised they had a player with plenty of potential early in Kate Jeffery’s time at the club.
Having spent her junior years at Congupna, the midcourt ace switched across to Princess Park in 2015.
At 16 she made her first A-grade appearance in wing attack, with the natural centre injected into the top tier during a successful year for the under-17s, who claimed the flag.
It marked a premiership in her first year at the Swans and second straight having played in another grand final win with The Road a year prior.
Joining friends at Princess Park, Jeffery played in the premiership with future A-grade shooter Olivia Mason, which has helped the pair’s cohesion in the top side.
‘‘That was amazing, that was so good, there’s no feeling other than winning a grand final,’’ she said.
‘‘We’ve had a nice little bit of time together, so we work well together and I know exactly where she wants the ball in the circle.’’
Jeffery, 19, has improved drastically since making her way into the A-grade side, with coach Jana Bruinier pleased with how she has developed her consistency.
The teenager has learned plenty from her time in the Goulburn Valley League, given the high calibre of opponents she faces in the demanding role of centre.
‘‘I think it’s pretty scary, but you just play it like any other player and I look up to them, it’s so good to see what they’re doing and I try and copy it a little bit,’’ Jeffery said.
Unsurprisingly, it is Kyabram star and reigning Wellman medallist Steph Vick who Jeffery chose as the hardest opposition to play on.
‘‘She’s amazing, she’s just incredible, just her ability to get intercepts from absolutely nowhere and not even tire,’’ Jeffery said.
But with some players at the Swans having years of experience, Jeffery also receives plenty of guidance from her own teammates.
‘‘Around the Swans, Nat Simpson has definitely been a big help as well as Jana, they’ve both guided me through and are awesome and they’re both such incredible players,’’ she said.
Only Simpson, Bruinier and midcourt talent Shinea Sali had played A-grade finals before last weekend, with the rest of the side new to the experience.
But Jeffery said she felt calm heading into last week’s elimination final against Benalla, as her side won by two goals.
‘‘Us younger girls haven’t played any senior finals, so last weekend was exciting and nerve-racking and wasn’t too bad, we felt quite fine about it,’’ she said.
‘‘Playing Benalla in Benalla felt like another game.’’
Enjoying a gap year, Jeffery graduated from Notre Dame College last year.
She was a star of the school netball side, selected to play at the Marist Netball Carnival.
Last year she travelled to Sale to play the best in the state.
It was the third consecutive year Jeffery had made the school side.
‘‘The Marist carnival is so much fun to get to go away with a bunch of girls from your school and some you don’t hang around with at school,’’ she said.
Her composed nature makes her valuable in the side as she combines with Sali’s and Simpson’s bursts.
Jeffery will again need to stick out four quarters on Sunday against Shepparton, with a likely match-up against another rising star in Grace Egan to come.