No stopping Steph’s soft-spot for sport

She’s the pocket-sized young woman you all know and love, and chances are you’ve seen her around more times than you can count…

Nominated for this month’s Spotlight piece, where The Echo showcases some of the young achievers from Two Wells, is Stephanie Agnello.

You may remember her bright face from school, having attended Two Wells Primary School and then moving on to Balaklava High School.

Though, perhaps you remember her quality service while she was working at the Empire Café in Two Wells.

Regardless, size has never stopped Steph from being herself!

‘Little Steph’, as she is often called, is probably best  known as one of the town’s local sporting veterans (though only 21 years young).

She’s even recently been awarded life-membership at the Two Wells Softball Club for all her participation, effort and time given.

It is something that has been a big part of her life for the last 14 years.

Growing up, her mother, Linda Rushton,  was heavily involved in the sport, which made a big impact on young Steph.

She recalled accompanying her mother to games and having so much fun.

“She would take me to games and tournaments in West Beach and would carry me around in her softball bag,” she said with a chuckle.

This sort of exposure eventually led her into T-ball at age five and then softball at age eight at Two Wells, where she was fortunate enough to have her club lower the joining age just to allow several eager young girls to join.

It certainly didn’t take long for her skills to build and her love for the game to flourish because, at the age of just 13, Steph was lucky enough to travel to the USA for her softball.

She participated in different tournaments for a month and made many friendships, both with her American host family and at softball camp.

During her teenage years, Steph even managed to balance playing for two clubs.

She played in Two Wells every Saturday and then left to play another few games down south.

“Mum used to drive me to West Beach where I would play another one or two games for the Torrens Valley Redsox,” she said.

The last two seasons at Two Wells for Steph were very successful – something she is quite proud of.

In the 2011/2012 season, she was awarded runner up best and fairest and for the 2012/2013 season she won best and fairest.

Let’s not forget best and fairest for the division 1 association team!

“I guess all the hard work and the individual training I used to do when I was younger has paid off,” she said.

After having achieved so much, Steph is still able to be modest.

“I don’t want to seem cocky about my awards because there are lots of amazing players that deserve the recognition as well.”

Stephanie’s achievements are certainly not restricted to the field, as she has also been out on the courts playing netball for Two Wells since 1997, starting in D grade.

She slowly worked her way up the chain and has now settled herself in the A1 team.

It was never an easy path for her, especially after playing six seasons in the A2s and then being dropped down to the A3 team.

“I thought about quitting but I had to keep on going so I could win best and fairest and prove that I deserved to go up,” she explained.

Steph feels she is so lucky to have amazing support from her previous and current coaches. “They assured me things would eventually work out,” she said.

They certainly weren’t wrong! Steph took home the A3 best and fairest in 2011 and in 2012 she won the A2 best and fairest and the coach’s trophy.

“Playing sport hasn’t been easy for me; I always get hit with the line ‘you’re too short to play that position’,” she said.

“Even if it is on the bench, there is always a spot for short people.”

It is certainly something that everyone has to endure if they are passionate about their sports and for her it has been significant in her life.

“They keep me striving for my best,” Steph said.

She is proud of her involvement in sport – she feels that it is never about winning or losing, it’s about the friends you make and the team element of working together.

“I have made some really good friends through sport and I highly recommend playing a sport even just for the social aspect of it.”

Outside her sporting achievements, Steph works and studies in childcare as a nursery assistant.

“I have my certificate III in children’s services and am currently studying for my diploma,” she said.

This occupation isn’t just one that she feels obligated to do, as her passion for children stems from the strong relationships she has made with her own family, who she loves very much.

Having asked her about her goals in life and what she sees for herself in five years time, she confessed she hopes to be a mum – but all the time still working and participating in sports.

“It may not be a huge dream to some, but I would love more than anything to have kids of my own and make them proud like my mum makes me,” Steph laughed.

“Maybe I’ll get married, but I’ll hopefully have a ring first (hint, hint Ned).”

Just over a year ago, Steph also decided to make the leap into independence, moving out of her Two Wells home to Andrew’s Farm with a friend.

Though she enjoys it, she misses her home town very much.

“You know, one day when I’m older, when it’s time to buy, I’d love to come back here. It’s my home,” she said.

Well, you can take the girl out of the town, but you can’t take the town out of the girl!

She has certainly achieved a great deal in a short amount of time, even managing several holidays in the last 12 months.

“Last August, I travelled with my family to the USA and went to LA and Vegas for my 21st. It was amazing!” she said.

Unable to hold back her excitement, she also tells of her other recent trip to the USA.

“I got to go to Disneyland, see car races and best of all, buy a new softball bat,” Steph said.

She has also planned a trip to Bali with a friend – certainly a great idea amongst all this winter cold.

Think you can pack us in your suitcase, Steph?

Stephanie is the person she is today because of her mother.

She even quotes her greatest sporting achievements as time spent with her mum.

“My proudest sporting moment is getting to play softball with my mum,” Steph said.

“Any game I play with her is special to me.

“I hope one day I can play a game with my mum and hopefully my own daughter.”

Before ending the interview, she certainly couldn’t miss the opportunity to promote her club – which is about to enter its 2013/2014 season.

“Call my mum, Linda Rushton. She’s the president!” Steph said.

Certainly a hard working and persevering young woman, Steph is one of the jewels of our community, both sporting and otherwise.

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