NS Exclusive: Kelsey Browne – Kind of a Cool Story

NS Exclusive: Kelsey Browne – Kind of a Cool Story

“It’s kind of a cool story, you know!”

Kelsey Browne beams as she traces back across the years, experiences and emotions that make up her netball career, and her renaissance this season.

“I hope I’ve been a feel-good story for people out there, that things can happen. And as much as I thought it was embarrassing at the time, that I carried a bit of shame around with me, it was important for me to step back.

“To stop and think that while it could have happened at any stage in my career, I can tackle problems and find positives in them. That’s what I want my story to be. I look at my whole career as – well, it’s been so up and down, I wouldn’t change it, but it has been cool.”

The “It” that Browne refers to was the demise of Collingwood’s netball team. With just four weeks to run of the 2023 season, the football goliath announced that after an internal review, it was withdrawing its netball franchise from the competition. That left its players, coaches and support staff all suddenly out of a job, and its athletes unable to look for a new one while Collective Player Agreement (CPA) negotiations were at a standstill.


The demise of Collingwood netball took a huge toll on the team. Kelsey Browne is consoled by assistant coach Kate Upton. Image Aliesha Vicars.


Kelsey Browne – saying goodbye to fans. Image Aliesha Vicars.


Browne takes up the story.

“With the union dispute I was keeping an eye on what was going on, but behind closed doors everyone knew that the majority of the lists were already filled. I knew pretty early on where I was sitting. So six weeks before that, I had come to terms with the fact that my future could potentially come down to an injury replacement, or I’d have to step away from the game.

“After the CPA was in place, and at the 11th hour, I rang Kath Harby Williams (CEO, Australian Netball Players Association) and asked if all the lists were done. She said they were, and contracts were being signed.

“So I put the Instagram post out on Thursday at 5pm, not knowing that two days earlier Verity (Simmons) had told Fever she wasn’t re-signing. On Friday I got a call from Dan (Ryan, Fever coach) asking where my head was at.

“After that we had a lot of conversations, a weeklong process between the club and myself to figure out whether we were the right fit. It was very late in the piece, start of December, and I moved across the country two and a half weeks later. The rest is history.”

The Instagram post Browne refers to was a graceful piece of writing etched with maturity and time to reflect on a playing career that seemed to have come to a screeching halt.



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A post shared by KELSE. (@kelseybrowne_)


The months leading up to her post had been emotional, for sure, but there had been plenty of room for positivity too.

“My emotions were up and down, but I think if you speak to my family, they were quite shocked at how I handled everything. I was quite matter of fact, and they thought I’d be a lot more emotional. I think you have to be, that comes with maturity and I’m 32 now – you learn to handle disappointments and setbacks with a little more age under your belt.

“It was tough, but I also felt lucky and grateful for what I was able to do in the nine years I’ve played at this level.


“As much as I thought I had more to give the sport, I was also really proud.

If you’d told me that I could do all that when I was first starting out, I’d have thought you were kidding.


“It was a nice reflection time for me to think, ‘Sometimes things don’t go your way, they aren’t within your control, but you can be proud of what you’ve put out there, and you couldn’t have given anything more.’

“So I thought, ‘Everything I’ve lived and known for nine years is now gone, I’m okay with where I’m at, and I’m also excited for what’s ahead.’”


Kelsey Browne was in sparkling form after returning from a serious knee injury. Image Danny Dalton


Browne certainly lived the ups and downs of life as a professional athlete. With a reputation as one of the fastest wing attacks in the game, and crystalline vision into the circle, she achieved two premierships as an inaugural member of the Sunshine Coast Lightning, played for Australia at all age group levels including a silver medal at the 2019 Netball World Cup, and realised a life long dream to play at elite level alongside her sister, which the pair managed at Collingwood.

There’ve also been tougher times – a serious knee injury that kept her out for a year, and omission from the Diamonds after 18 caps.

Life off court has also been quite a ride: Browne is part of a close-knit family, and with a glorious voice and the ability to play multiple instruments, she’s a notable musician who’s performed on the big stage. She’s lived through a well-documented period of depression a number of years ago, and has the emotional IQ to offer an ear and a helping hand if needed.



The multi-talented Kelsey Browne performing on the big stage. Image: May Bailey


Kelsey Browne on HCF’s Talking Mental Health in Sport, with Yumi Stynes


All those experiences have been part of her learning curve, and now Browne fits comfortably into the life of an elite athlete. She has her pre-game routines, recovery, and analysis down pat, but it’s how she shows up to games that’s been her biggest point of growth.

“When you are younger, you are wanting to prove yourself and show people how good you are, and make sure that everyone knows your value. It’s all about what’s next. This year I’m living in the right now, and I couldn’t be happier.


“The big difference for me, is that it’s now about everybody else.


“Enjoying the experience because sporting careers are a short part of your life. In those three months when I thought I would have to retire, I missed so many little moments – time in the ice baths with friends and teammates, enjoying a win. All those experiences, and I want to enjoy Every. Single. One. this incredible sport has left to give to me.”


Friends and teammates – Kelsey Browne with Jo Weston. The Diamonds – silver medallists at the 2019 Netball World Cup. Image May Bailey


So, to Fever.

Browne says she has always run towards hard work – and she’s seen plenty of that this year. Leaving her family and dog behind in Victoria, moving cross country, learning what’s effectively a new position and game plan alongside a new coach and teammates.

But there’s little doubt she is flourishing.

“It’s the happiest I’ve been in a long time. It’s hard not to be happy in Perth, the weather and the city is amazing in itself, but added to that I’ve joined a club that is incredibly professional, well established, they know what their standards are and where they are heading.

“Dan and the girls, I feel like I’ve found my group of people and I feel really comfortable here.

“Obviously a big change has been my mindset around everything. At the end of last year I got a taste of what life would be like without netball, and as much as I was excited for the next step, this has been a way for me to prove that I still had something within me.

“I’m more open to living in the moment, for enjoying netball for what it is and what it’s given me.”


Kelsey Browne has been on a steep learning curve at Fever. Image Danny Dalton


Kelsey Browne – radiating happiness. Image Clinton Bradbury/Bradbury Sports Photography



Once she hit Western Australia, Browne felt she had work to do, both on court and off. “I honestly had no idea how I’d go learning a new position – playing predominantly centre and wanting to be a starting centre.

“As a wing attack I used to control the centre passes, but now it’s more of a fill and punch role, backing in Alice (Teague-Neeld) and those around me, and knowing when I need to take the game on.

“It was a big challenge for the first month or two to get the lay of the land, but Dan and the other players that had been here for a while are really strong on what their brand of netball looks like, so because they were clear and able to show me that early on, it felt easy to slip into.

“While it was a lot of work, I feel like I’m coming into my own of what this centre role looks like for me. I play differently to Jess (Anstiss) and Jordan (Cransberg) – so how can my game add to what we already have?”

Then there was the off-court work – learning about the team’s standards, game plan and that in joining an established midcourt her role in the team would be more fluid. She said, “I came in wanting to do whatever was needed, and that could look very different from one week to the next. I was also coming in as an older head with some experience, and potentially playing some sort of role there.

“But it’s made it very interesting and allowed me to grow as a player, a teammate and a person, knowing that my value can also sit outside of what is happening on court.

“That was an important lesson for me to learn.



Kelsey Browne has slotted in nicely to the Fever midcourt. Image: Danny Dalton

Kelsey Browne has slotted in perfectly to the Fever midcourt. Image: Danny Dalton


“All the girls have been so receptive and inclusive of everyone who has joined the team this year and what they can bring. We do celebrate people, and it’s been as beneficial for me to learn and grow in that role, as it’s been for me to share some of my experience to the other girls.”

There’s little doubt that Browne is enjoying Netball 2.0. As a key part of a midcourt bred to feed Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard, she’s combining a smart, controlled game with the feeding flair she’s always been known for. When stranded on the sidelines for a couple of weeks with a knee niggle, there was no glum face. She was a blazingly strong presence supporting her teammates. She looked happy.

As Browne says, “I’ve moved into this year with a completely different perspective. While I’ve loved the career and the experiences that netball has given me, this year I’ve gone into every single training session, every single game, going, ‘This is amazing.’

“I have a renewed sense of love for it, and I’m very, very grateful for that.”





Celebrating a win, the weekend after losing her grandmother. Kelsey Browne being embraced by coach Nic Richardson. Image Marcela Massey


Reflecting on the 2019 Netball World Cup silver medal match. Image May Bailey


Sisters in Arms – the Diamonds receive their 2019 silver Netball World Cup medal. Image May Bailey


Kelsey Browne in action during the 2019 Netball World Cup final. Image May Bailey


Kelsey Browne – that winning feeling. Image Simon Leonard.


En route to back to back premierships with Sunshine Coast Lightning – Semi-finals, 2018. Image Simon Leonard.


Kelsey Browne on the run. Image Kirsten Daley


Kelsey Browne and Gabi Simpson in a race for the ball. Image Aliesha Vicars




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About the Author:

Physiotherapist, writer and netball enthusiast. Feature articles, editorials and co-author of "Shine: the making of the Australian Netball Diamonds". Everyone has a story to tell, and I'm privileged to put some of them on paper. Thank you to the phenomenal athletes, coaches and people in the netball world who open a door to their lives, and let me tiptoe in.
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