A new chapter has begun for South Coast Blaze, with Carolyn Dews taking the reins as their new chairperson.
The NSW Premier League franchise on Tuesday morning announced that Dews - the former Illawarra Academy of Sport general manager - had taken over the role from Karina Franke, who has stepped down after five years in the role.
Franke was the club's inaugural chairperson and became a driving member in the foundation of the Blaze off the court. She worked tirelessly behind the scenes, with the club making its on-court debut during 2020 - whether they had to navigate through the impact of COVID.
However, the time has now come for a change. And with foundation players and captains Taylah Davies and Katelyn Anderson recently departing the club, there is a new feeling around the Blaze.
Dews told the Mercury that she looked forward to carrying on the great work done by Franke.
"I was a netballer years ago and I've always played competitive sport. And I really admire the work that Karina, the rest of the board and the coaches have done in setting up such a great club for the South Coast area," she said.
"About 10 years ago, I was general manager at the Illawarra Academy of Sport and netball was one of our foundation programs. I really enjoy working with young people and developing talent in the local area, and I think that I've got some good skills based on my business background to work with the boys and really consolidate the work that they've started with the Blaze.
"I also really want to continue to raise the profile of the Blaze in the Illawarra. I think it's been done really well so far, and there's an opportunity to build upon that and get people aware of the level of talent that we've got in the area, and how good the girls are going.
"I also want to highlight the commitment that both the board and the coaches and managers put in. It's all done for the love of the sport."
For Franke, the decision to step away wasn't made lightly. However, she believes that the Blaze is well set up to continue getting success into the future under Dews.
"It's been a lot of hard work in developing this franchise, but I'm incredibly excited about the strong position that it's in today. But it's time for new ideas and networks to come into the mix," she said.
"I'm really excited for Carolyn to take on the role from 2024 onwards. She has a really strong CEO and marking background, and she has a lot of connections locally and is really passionate about the progression of women's sport. She's a really great option to take the Blaze forward into its next chapter."
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