Magpies Netball speaks to Madi Robinson ahead of her 150th game in Saturday's semi-final.
Magpies captain Madi Robinson loves rollercoaster rides.
She loves the adrenaline, the ups and downs and the assured feeling you get when once you land on your own two feet.
Admittedly, the 29-year-old from Geelong says her 149-game netball career has been just that – one wild ride.
“It’s a cliché – but it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster,” Robinson told Magpies Netball this week.
“I’m thankful for the ups and downs. When you have to go through some of the tough times and get through them, the wins and successes taste even sweeter.
“I wouldn’t have wanted my career to pan out any other way. I’m the kind of person who enjoys the challenge of having climb up the mountain, get back down, and work through some of the bumps in the road along the way.
“So that’s how I’d describe my career – as a rollercoaster. But it’s a good thing I love rides.”
With her attention solely on the Magpies’ inaugural netball finals appearance, the star wing attack says she was wasn’t even aware of her upcoming milestone.
When she lines up against the Giants on Saturday night, Robinson will compete in her 150th national league game.
“I didn’t even know this milestone was coming up.”
“When I think of 150 games at this elite level, I think of all the teams I’ve played for, all the travel, all the training, and all of the teammates and friends I’ve made along the way.”
With a professional career spanning over a decade, Robinson’s impressive list of achievements includes a premiership, MVP awards, winning a gold medal with the Australian Diamonds, as well as creating her own slice of history by becoming the first athlete to win all three individual honours at the 2012 Australian Netball Awards.
“There’s a lot that I’m proud of. When I eventually retire, that’s when I’ll sit back and reflect on all I’ve achieved.”
“For me though, it’s not always about the success. The accolades (both on a team or individually) have been great, but I’ve always felt a greater joy in going out on the court every week with my teammates, and inspiring and empowering them to get the best out of themselves.
“There’s also lots of things along the way – that may not be the big achievements – but whether it’s making the starting seven or even playing alongside my sister, those are the things that have added up to make my netball journey unique and special to me.”
Robinson credits one of her greatest career successes as overcoming her season-ending ACL injury in 2015, when she was playing for the Melbourne Vixens.
“My teammates were the ones who got me through my serious knee injury. As shattering as it was, it taught me a lot about myself as a person and as a player.”
“When you have to sit on the sidelines, it’s really tough. Mentally, you’re ready to go, but physically your body just won’t allow you to.
“I do feel like a different player since that injury. I relish every opportunity to get out there and play now. I don’t take it for granted because I know anything can happen. It was a career-defining moment for me, and I’m glad I was able to overcome it.”
Known as the ‘little general’ in netball circles, Robinson’s leadership has become a standout feature of hers.
“I’m a positive person. I try and find ways to improve myself and those that are around me.”
“That little general role comes from playing basketball and being the little point guard calling the plays when I was younger.
“I always try to invest in the people around me and see how I can try and motivate them and push them to another level. I love being captain of this club. It’s something I hold dear to my heart.
“The other word that most people describe me as – which Shae Brown says all the time – is efficient. Everything is efficient when it comes to me. I like to get things done.”
When asked who has been the toughest opponent she’s played on, Robinson narrowed it down to two.
“Renae Ingles – who just retired last weekend – is one of the best netballers to have played the game. Physically, she’s got these long arms which makes her so unpredictable. Mentally, it was such a challenge because we knew each other’s games so well. We are best mates and I’m just so glad I was able to be there for her last game.”
“The other would have to be Laura Langman from the Sunshine Coast. She’s such a phenomenal, competitive athlete. Fingers crossed we get another crack at the Lightning because I’d love to go up against her again.”
To have any chance of facing the Lightning in the finals this year, the Magpies will have to first get through the Giants on Saturday night.
“It will be really tough. We’ve had one win and one loss in our battles this season.”
“It’s important for us to get out to a strong start. In the times we’ve played them this season, we let them get ahead of us and then we’re constantly in chase mode.
“We know we can fight it out at the end of the contest. There’ll be ups and downs. They’ll have momentum swings, and we’ll go on runs as well. But it’s finals and we’re going to try and find a way to grind it out on their home floor.”
If leading her team out into sudden death semi-final on the road wasn’t enough, Robinson says she will savour the added pressure of representing the biggest club in Australian sport.
“Everything has been a first this year at Magpies Netball. The pressure has been on us since the start. We love it though, we thrive under the pressure.”
“People know we have something special here at Collingwood and that’s why they put us up on a pedestal.”
And with game 150 sitting somewhere in the back of her mind, the captain says there’s only one way she wants to celebrate it.
“It’s pretty special when I think about it, but for me, the way I’d love to honour it is to go out there on Saturday and get a win and advance another week into the finals.”
The Magpies clash with the Giants in the Minor Semi-Final on Saturday night at Sydney Olympic Park. The game will be live on 9Gem from 7pm.
ROBINSON’S CAREER AT A GLANCE
Photos - Getty Images & Netball Australia