National selection a rare honour
By GREGOR MACTAGGARTmactaggartg@gladstoneobserver.com.au
TO BE picked for Australia is a feeling that a rare bunch get to achieve.
Well you can add Gladstone volleyball duo Rhiannon Tooker and Michelle Bridges to that list after the pair were picked in the Australian under-16 team.
The pair, members of the School of Excellence program at Gladstone State High School, were in sparkling form as Queensland took out the recent under-16 national championships held in Perth.
Fellow Gladstone State High student Nicole Just was also a member of the Maroons team who made it three consecutive national championships at under-16 level.
For Bridges, it was her debut selection in an Australian side.
Understandably, Bridges was filled with elation and with mum Debbie in Perth as well, it was a special day for the family. "When they named the team and I was in it, I was very, very happy,'' Bridges said.
"I tried to be as consistent as possible over the tournament and to help the girls win the title was really nice.''
For Tooker, selection in an Australian team is nothing new.
She in fact knocked back the chance to tour with the national senior team to Asia to play with her friends in Perth.
"For me, the chance to play with people my own age was great,'' Tooker said.
"I probably could have handled the tour with the national team, but I wanted to have some fun in a relaxed tournament and we did that.
"Even though the level of play was slower than I have been used to recently, I loved being part of the team.''
Both girls said the titles were a lot of fun, with Bridges saying the Maroons' closeness went a long way to them winning.
"All the girls became really great friends, I think that helped us when we got to the final,'' she said.
Bridges and Tooker were again on the road as the Gladstone High girls' team won last weekend's Queensland Beach Volleyball Schools Cup in Brisbane.
A full report on the girls at the Beach Schools Cup will be located in tomorrow's edition of The Observer.