A successful playing career has since turned into a stellar coaching career for former Glen Innes local Alana Thomas.
Thomas was nominated for the Australian Rugby Union Community Coach of the Year Award for her dedication and success to coaching the Melbourne Unicorns women’s side, who won the premiership this year.
“It is humbling. I didn't even know I was nominated until I got a phone call from the ARU advising that I was nominated and they wanted to send me up to the awards night next Thursday,” she said.
“It means a lot. You don't do it for the awards or recognition, you do it for the players, so I am very humbled to receive it.”
Thomas played for the Wallaroos, the Australian national rugby union side, from 2006 through to 2010 and, after hanging up the boots, made the move to Melbourne to pursue her career in accounting.
Two years ago Thomas took on the role of business services co-ordinator with the Victorian Institute of Sport, giving her the best of both worlds in combining her career with her passion for sport.
Throughout her time there she has continued coaching, a role which gives her the opportunity to mentor women who are going through the same trials and tribulations as she did throughout her playing career.
“More the experiences, when you see similar situations or experiences that girls are going through you have a bit of credibility when you're talking to girls,” she said.
“Having been involved in that situation from playing and seeing those girls you sort of know how to manage it a little bit better.”
Thomas hoped her experiences and drive could set an example for kids in regional areas.
“I am just a kid that grew up in Glen Innes, went to Glen Innes High School and just loved playing sport,” she said.
“Anyone can do big things if they want to, it doesn't matter if they come from Glen Innes or Melbourne, it is up to the individual with their dreams, chasing them and being committed and really wanting to get there.
“You can do whatever you want, it is just about your attitude, your commitment and your willingness to get out there and do it because it is possible and you don't have to be in a major city to do it.”