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Dixon embraced the uncomfortable and it got her an NSL title

Credit: Ben Lumley

The 2023 Netball Super League season was all about Rhea Dixon getting comfortable in the uncomfortable and it worked as she secured a first title.  

The shooter made the move from Leeds Rhinos down to Loughborough Lightning to complete a fearsome foursome of shooters.  

Dixon has slotted into the injured Ella Clark’s place in Lightning’s circle, sharing the shooting responsibilities with Mary Cholhok, Emma Thacker and Suzie Liverseidge.  

“It was an interesting transition,” the 25-year-old said. “I knew some of the girls through Roses stuff the past few years, so it was great to already know some of them.  

“But it’s definitely a switch in environment, it’s more of a competitive environment than I’ve ever been in.   

“It’s a lot more intense and was a bit of a wake-up call, but I’m really grateful I was able to make the change.   

“At first, it was quite challenging dealing with the change in intensity, but I always just kept reminding myself that’s why I moved.   

“That’s why I came here, I wanted to be challenged and I wanted to be in uncomfortable situations and I wanted to push myself.  

“I just had to keep reminding myself at the start. But now I’m really used to it, and I really feel like I’m thriving.”   

Dixon’s life in the Netball Super League began with Surrey Storm, coming through their pathway before making her NSL debut in 2017.   

She then joined Leeds Rhinos for their debut season, helping them to the top four in 2021 before missing much of last season with injury.   

That injury saw her have a truncated pre-season when she joined Lightning as one of just two new recruits to Vic Burgess’ side that reached the Grand Final last year.   

She has spent this season challenging powerhouse Cholhok and rising star Thacker for a starting berth and in doing so, has chosen to focus on what has made her a fan favourite.   

She added: “I have just been playing to my strengths this year. I’ve really learned that I have to back that in and understand what I bring to the team.  

“I bring a certain creativity and explosivity in and around that circle. It’s just about making sure I continue to play to my strengths and knowing that it’s a point of difference compared to other players and other teams.”  

Having spent an extended period away from the court, Dixon turned her injury lay-off to good use by starting a Sports Business Management degree at Leeds Beckett University.  

Next year she will begin a dissertation looking into the professionalisation of netball, and the passionate women’s sports fan has plenty of ideas for how to help the sport she loves to grow.   

“It’s just incredible the way that our fan bases are and the way that community netball is run with pure passion and pure love for the sport,” she said.   

“That can’t be taken for granted. But also, just the difference in our sport and the skill and physicality and intensity and just everything that we love about it.   

“That really needs to be championed and continued to be shown throughout the world.”   

Dixon is never afraid to use her voice to celebrate what needs to be celebrated but is equally at home when having uncomfortable conversations.   

And as she comes to the end of her seventh year in the Netball Super League, she has only strengthened her confidence in herself.   

She said: “I’ve always had quite strong views on things, but I think it’s just knowing that I have a voice, so I guess it should be used for positive things.    

“And knowing that I’ve been involved in netball for a long time, so I think I know what I’m talking about a little bit!” 

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