Sport

Our Game: Women’s stories shaping sport - Rhonda Carpenter

By Tyler Maher

McPherson Media Group has partnered with Valley Sport to bring you Our Game: Women's Stories Shaping Sport highlighting the brilliant and often under-appreciated, contributions females of the region make to their sporting clubs and organisations, on and off the field.

Each week a different district female athlete, leader or champion will be highlighted — so make sure you contact MMG or Valley Sport to nominate those around you to be profiled in the series.

This week, Mansfield's Rhonda Carpenter is featured.

Rhonda Carpenter's love for Benalla Hockey Club can never be denied.

Carpenter has made the 90-minute round trip from her home in the high country to play with the Tigers more times than she can count for the better part of three decades, but continues to do so to be involved with the organisation.

Along the journey she has not only created history with the Goulburn Valley Hockey Association club in the form of premierships and other awards, but recorded it as well.

“I have travelled from Mansfield to play for Benalla Hockey Club since 1991,” Carpenter said.

“I played in premiership teams in the women’s GVHA competition in 1993, 2005, 2006, and 2014, and I captained the 2014 team.

“I've coached many teams in school hockey including taking the 2015 Mansfield Secondary College Year 7 girls to zone then state finals in Melbourne.

“With veteran Rupe Cheetham (I also) consulted life members to write the history of the Benalla club which was published in 2016.”

Carpenter's skills developed over the years as well.

“I began hockey winning ‘most consistent’ awards,” she said.

“(But I) went on to win best-and-fairest awards at Benalla in 2003, 2011 and 2014.”

It is not just on the pitch though where Carpenter has built a sporting reputation for herself, with a long history of tennis involvement in the region in her armoury as well.

“I've played tennis in Mansfield for over 15 years and for Benalla Lawn Green in Saturday comp for a few years recently,” she said.

“At Mansfield Tennis Association I joined the committee in 2016 after writing the history of the tennis club.

“I implemented change at the club to become ‘smoke free’, upgrade court fencing, support a rebound wall project and other improvements for members such as fridges and split systems for heating and cooling in the clubhouse.

“I currently run social tennis with my husband and help with grant applications and gardening at the grounds.”

Carpenter built her sporting resolve in the freezing temperatures of early morning swimming lessons as a child and encourages all women and girls to keep active as much as they can.

“Initially my folks weren’t keen on me playing hockey, but they never stopped me,” she said.

“They encouraged my sister and I to take up swimming because they couldn’t and the 8 am Sunday mornings in the freezing water strengthened my resolve.

“Being introduced to skiing and ski racing at a very young age gave me success and confidence to tackle scary or unusual things and made me a thrill-seeker at times.

“It (sport) is fabulous fun and exciting.

“(It gives you a) sense of achievement in team sports to combine as a group, (and it's great for) both mental and physical health.

“There’s nothing better than recovering after getting your heart and lungs really pumping like you do in a game.”

More in the Our Game series

Introduction

Rylee Alderton

Megan Wood

Amy Marshall

Dossie Parnell

Erin Blachford

Grace Raphael and Bridie Mackay