In six short months, 23-year-old Ruby Bakewell-Doran has gone from Suncorp Super Netball rookie to Origin Australian Diamonds Squad member.
Alongside her fellow Firebirds teammates, Gretel Bueta and Donnell Wallam, Ruby will spend her 2022 off-season at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Ruby Bakewell-Doran joins The 4th Qtr Podcast! Listen below.
It’s a remarkably swift rise for the gritty defender, who recently opened up on her journey to Fox Netball’s The 4th Qtr podcast.
Referencing her Super Netball debut last season, Bakewell-Doran said: “You put so many years into the potential of that happening and not really knowing if it ever will happen. After a solid three years of giving it everything that I had to be rewarded in that way is just elating. It’s the best feeling in the world.
“It’s sort of one of those things, it doesn’t happen easily, it doesn’t happen to everyone and you’ve got to be so grateful for it and you’ve got to really take it with two hands and really put everything into it.”
Having been in the Firebirds system since she was 19, Bakewell-Doran’s journey to playing in the Suncorp Super Netball series and reaching the Diamonds squad may look seamless from the outside, but it has been anything but smooth sailing.
If it wasn’t for her mother, Megan, and the persistence of grassroots coaches, the youngster would not be playing today.
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At just 16 years of age, Ruby underwent a knee reconstruction after dislodging her knee cap and rupturing her ACL during a game of netball. The gruesome injury was enough to put the up-and-comer off the sport for good.
“I was a bit scarred from netball. Especially after my ACL I had sort of lost my love for the game, my ACL wasn’t a typical landing error – it was a contact – so I dislocated my knee cap. I think there was a little bit of a kind of almost hate for the sport. I was thinking it had put me in this situation,” Bakewell-Doran told The 4th Qtr podcast.
Although she didn’t want to return to playing netball, Bakewell-Doran’s mum encouraged her throughout her recovery process so that she could get back to being the best version of herself.
“Mum kind of took me on a different path and sort of said: ‘Look you’ve got to get yourself back to 100% regardless of what sport you want to play. You need to be the healthiest and best version of yourself.’ She kind of took my mind away from netball and back into getting myself fit and healthy again.”
Post-recovery Bakewell-Doran got a call from one of her coaches, urging her to come down to the courts and watch her old team. It wasn’t long before she was convinced into participating in a passing drill and then a scrimmage, and the rest is history.
“I think for me that was sort of all it took, is to have one session back with all the girls and sort of realize how much I really did miss it. I think that was kind of where the journey started to want to get back and actually play through the higher levels.”
Not long after this, Ruby found her way into the Firebirds pathway.
After a pre-season injury required an ankle reconstruction in 2019, Ruby felt like her dreams had been put on hold. However, with her experience and the support of the coaches around her, her journey back to the court was easier this time around.
Three years on Ruby is making her mark in the purple dress, gaining notoriety as one of the grittiest and most hardworking defenders in the competition.
When asked about how she feels under the spotlight, Bakewell-Doran says she’s been blocking out the outside noise and focusing on doing her role for the club.
“I have just focused on my own game and tried to do my job for my team. You can look at all the positive stuff and the accolades that people want to give you but at the end of the day you’ve just got to perform.”
Despite the buzz growing around the 23-year-old in her debut season, Bakewell-Doran remains grounded, for which she credits her Mum.
“She’s done a really good job of bringing me back down to earth … if you have a bad game at the end of the day it’s just a game of netball … at the same time pumping up my tires when I feel like I’ve done a good job when you can’t really be running around talking about that stuff with anyone else. She grounds me.”
Bakewell-Doran’s maturity and tenacity on and off the court have created a buzz with many calling her one of the most promising defending prospects in the league.
Just last week she was tasked with shutting down one of the best-attacking ends in the Suncorp Super Netball competition, headed by Jhaniele Fowler and Sasha Glasgow. She contributed massively, helping hold the fever to only less than 70 goals for only the third time this season in the first week of two First Nations Rounds.
Bakewell-Doran’s stellar season has been rewarded in dividends, with her first-ever Diamonds squad call up.
In 12 games this season, Ruby has amassed 418.5 Nissan Net Points, 18 intercepts, 14 defensive rebounds and 42 gains. But netball is a team game, and Bakewell-Doran gushingly credits much of her growth this season to her Firebirds teammate and training matchup, Gretel Bueta.
“She is the ultimate competitor.”
Bakewell-Doran is not the only late addition to the Diamonds squad, with the youngster selected alongside the Swifts midcourt star Maddy Proud, whose omission from the original squad picked in April sent shockwaves through the netball world.
Exciting times lie ahead for the rising star, and Australian netball.