Shepparton Swan Nick Calandro has been rewarded for a brilliant season with the Goulburn Valley Football League's Rising Star award, while Benalla's Grace Thomas won the netball Rising Star.By Marc McGowan and Hannah Driscoll
His Shepparton Swans coach Brett Warburton already knew it, but it is now official: Nick Calandro is a rising star.
Calandro and Benalla teenager Grace Thomas were last night’s respective winners of the Goulburn Valley league’s football and netball Rising Star awards.
Calandro, 18, has played all 20 games, including both finals, for the Swans this season as part of their rock-solid defence, alongside senior interleague stars Dan Lovick and Andrew Riordan.
‘‘It’s a pretty good honour to win it, especially with the other young boys running around, because there were some quality players named,” Calandro said.
‘‘It’s been good playing senior footy and I’ve learned heaps and improved and the culture around the club is really good.
‘‘The club hasn’t had a lot of success, premiership-wise, for the last however long it has been, so it’s been good to be part of it and it’s a good supporter base down there.’’
Calandro’s Swans are preparing to face Shepparton United in Sunday’s preliminary final, with the winner to play Kyabram in the following week’s grand final.
‘‘It’s going to be a pretty big crowd, with United and the Swans playing,’’ Calandro said.
‘‘I like (the pressure), because it keeps you on your toes and you have to beat your opponent and contribute to the team and play your role.’’
Calandro, who also won the best-on-ground medal for Goulburn Valley in its under-18 interleague victory over Geelong this year, said it would be difficult for him to break into the Swans’ midfield.
‘‘I’ll just see what works well for our side,’’ he said.
‘‘Our midfield is strong, with Jamo (Jamason Daniels), Sidey (Tyson Sidebottom), (Jessie) Finnen and even Quade (Johnstone) — he’s killed it this year.’’
Calandro played two games for TAC Cup side Murray Bushrangers last year and said he would consider playing at VFL level in the future if the opportunity arose.
He thanked the Swans for the opportunity for him to play senior football so early in his career.
Thomas, who was unable to attend last night’s function, was an integral part of the Saints’ goaling combination alongside veteran and multiple premiership player Kellie Keen.
The Goulburn Valley junior representative was promoted to Benalla’s under-17 team last year, when she proceeded to shoot 650-plus goals and was a member of the losing grand final side.
Thomas also played in the Victorian Netball League with North East Blaze and played in the zone academy.
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