ARound the grounds round 9

One of Wodonga’s most famous names will be back in the spotlight this weekend when Ellie Ainsworth plays her 150th match for the club.

The daughter of Bulldogs record games holder Keith, midcourter Ellie has hit the milestone at the age of just 21 and has long since been following in Dad’s footsteps when it comes to her pure passion for the maroon and white.

‘Ellie just bleeds Bulldogs,” netball coach Bianca Mann smiled. “I’ve had her here for years and she is that person you can always rely on, on court and off.

“She would do anything for the club, loves the place and loves the people around here.”

“Ellie’s an amazing teammate,” Aleisha Coyle added.

“She works hard, she’s so supportive and she’s one of those players who gets around everyone and brings an amazing atmosphere to the club.”

Sports trainer Dave Allen has watched Ainsworth rise from a talented junior to an established A-grader.

“They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and Ellie has got a lot of the Keith Ainsworth spirit,” Allen said.

“She’s brought that to the netball; she’s proud, passionate and never gives in.

“Ellie is the epitomy of a Bulldogs player – excellent.”

No-one will be prouder when Ainsworth takes the court against North Albury than Keith.

“The thing with Ellie is she gives 100% effort, 100% of the time,” he said.

“She’s flat-out and that’s what we love about her.

“You know what you get every week, you get effort and the love of the club shows on the court and off the court as well, which is fantastic.

“She’s been here since she was a baby so she’s really proud of the joint and proud to say she’s a Bulldog.”

Ainsworth’s loyalty through some extremely lean years is now being rewarded with only percentage keeping Wodonga out of the top-five after eight rounds.

Three straight wins against Albury, Wangaratta Rovers and Lavington have brought levels of confidence not seen at the Bulldogs in years.

“I love everything about this place,” Ainsworth beamed. “I love the people, the players, the coaches, it’s great.

“It was tough to be positive, week in, week out, when you’re not getting those results but I think the club is what brought me back every time.”

Sharing the journey with Ainsworth has been good friend Zoe Lawson.

“Ellie’s such a great club person,” Lawson said. “She brings such a great energy, her work ethic is really good and she’s always getting the girls up and about, bringing everybody together.

“She’s just a great asset to the club.”

A win on Saturday would move Wodonga level with the Hoppers at the halfway stage of what has become one a fascinating race for the top-five.

“It’s been hard at times,” Ainsworth reflected.

“I had a lot of success in my juniors but coming up to the seniors, it hasn’t been too great.

‘But we’re on the up now and it’s really exciting.”