Melbourne Vixens are excited to announce their signing of Hannah Mundy for two years. Erin Delahunty spoke with Mundy about her roots, and career progression.
Hannah Mundy jokes that she and her mother, three-time netball world champion Shelley O’Donnell, “don’t really talk feelings”.
But this afternoon—when it’s announced 20-year-old Mundy has signed with Super Netball side the Melbourne Vixens for two years, after this season being a temporary replacement for the world’s best wing attack, Liz Watson—there’ll be reason for some emotional expressions.
“I feel like we don’t really talk feelings, mum and me, but I guess making her proud is something that is special. I’d like to hear it from her mouth though,” Mundy jokingly told Siren on Sunday.
O’Donnell, an Australian netball icon who won world championships in 1991, 1995 and 1999 and Commonwealth Games gold in 1998 playing at wing attack, the position her daughter also plays, is certainly proud.
“To be a replacement player this season was a great opportunity, but temporary is just that, meaning things can change at any time. For her to secure an actual contract, it’s pretty exciting,” O’Donnell, who played 84 Tests for the Diamonds and was the inaugural captain of Vixens’ predecessor club the Melbourne Kestrels between 1997 and 2000, said.
Like her mum, Mundy, who has her father Lee’s surname, is a product of Netball Victoria’s pathway. She represented the state at under-17 and under-19 level, was a member of Victorian Fury’s 2019 premiership squad and was named as a Vixens training partner in late 2020, after the club won its first Super Netball title, in a Queensland hub.
The 180cm midcourter, who can play across all three positions, was called into the Vixens’ playing squad on the eve of the 2021 season after Watson had foot surgery, ruling her out for the year. While Mundy played all 14 home and away games, she was considered a “top-up” player, not one of the 10 contracted athletes. Now, she is in the squad proper.
“It definitely happened pretty quickly. Last year, I was watching the 2020 Super Netball grand final in lockdown in Melbourne, having a little cry actually, idolising all those players and then next minute, I’m in that position,” Mundy, who is studying primary school teaching, said.
Understanding there are only 80 full-time playing contracts across the entire league —considered the best in the netball world—the youngster is grateful.
“This contract is really special to me. I grew up as a Vixens fan—every second photo of me as a kid is in Vixens merch!—so I am so thankful to be given this opportunity. I wouldn’t want to do it at any other club.
“This year I had a taste of Super Netball and while I was thrown in the deep end because of how it happened, I know there’s so much more to come and I can’t wait to learn more, grow more.
“I want to add to my toolkit, be more dynamic, add more variety to my movements, better my touch on the ball, basically everything,” she said.
With Watson coming back into the team, some fans wondered if Mundy would get a deal at all. But Vixens coach, former Diamond Simone McKinnis, who won numerous gold medals alongside O’Donnell in the 90s, has taken a “master and apprentice” approach by contracting both.
“I’m so excited to be able to learn and play alongside the best wing attack in the world. This year, even though Liz wasn’t on the actual court, she was our assistant coach and it was really helpful to have insight from her, especially for me in my first year.
“I always looked to her for advice, for her to tell me what to do, because she’s gone up against the players before, she knows what works and what doesn’t.
“I’m also super excited to play with Kate Moloney again because we created a good connection and I want to make that grow as well,” Mundy said of the Vixens co-captains, who have both signed on for 2022, along with defenders Jo Weston, Emily Mannix and shooter Rahni Samason.
Like most pundits, 54-year-old O’Donnell, who coached Mundy as a junior and even played A grade with her in 2018 and 2019 for the Sorrento Sharks, said “the kid” grew across the 2021 season, which saw her bank 201 centre pass receives, 136 goal assists, five intercepts and 17 deflections.
“She was replacing Liz Watson in the starting seven… she didn’t really have a chance to sit back and work her way into it, but she grew each week and I don’t think she looked out of place, even in the first few games.
“She had some really good patches, but there was also a little bit of inexperience there with some of the passes and the decisions she made. I thought she was quite calm and held her own,” she said.
That composure is even more impressive considering Mundy wasn’t only replacing Watson, but carrying the weight of being O’Donnell’s daughter, even if the name wasn’t on the dress.
“I thought she held that pressure, which was definitely there, really well. I kept thinking, ‘keep it together kid’ and she did,” O’Donnell said.
Mundy said not being an O’Donnell, because her mum elected to keep her surname when she married, has worked in her favour. “Coming through the ranks, nobody really knew. It helped make me my own individual and not ‘just Shelley O’Donnell’s daughter’,” she said.
“When mum used to coach me, my teammates would always brag about their coach being Shelley O’Donnell, but I didn’t!” she laughed.
While the pair share “strength as their biggest strength” on-court, the 8cm shorter O’Donnell relied on her timing and explosiveness, while Mundy is good in the air.
Even if she doesn’t praise her parent publicly, Mundy has been known to dig around for vision of O’Donnell’s playing days.
“There’s a video of her doing an interview and she looks like a baby and my brother and I laugh every time we watch it! She doesn’t really pull out old videos or anything though.”
Mundy instead grew up idolising modern players such as Kim Green and Watson, two of Australia’s greatest wing attacks. She imagines one day following in their fast footsteps.
“Playing for the Diamonds is a dream of mine. It’s a long way away but something I would look for.”
Today, she’s one step closer.