Rugby Union South Australia is recognising the efforts of player life members Kathryn Van Diemen, Emma Yates, Sarah Batsavalis & life member Kim Evans across a four-part series.
Kathryn Van Diemen
Few women have given as much to South Australian rugby as Kathryn Van Diemen.
But the premiership-winning Burnside player and junior coach says she’s still “shocked and honoured” to have been awarded player life membership at the recent RUSA AGM.
“It’s such a massive honour to be sharing this player life membership with women like Emma Yates and Sarah Batzavalis,” Kathryn said.
“We’d like to think we’ve been pioneers in this space and helped keep the sport going along with all the other incredible volunteers in SA rugby but you don’t go chasing this kind of recognition - it's a huge privilege and I'm very grateful."
Kathryn began her rugby journey with Burnside back in 2004 through a work colleague and hasn’t stopped since in a career spanning 20 years.
“I had a few years off to have my son but even when I wasn’t playing, I was still involved in the club with committees, volunteering, whatever roles I could do to help,” she said.
“Burnside is a second family to me and my son and it’s a real privilege to have played, coached and been a part of this community.
“It’s a club where we all look out for each other – players, families, kids – and I think we’re pretty special in that regard.”
Burnside's 2021 premiership win stands out as Kathryn’s biggest highlight alongside watching her son’s ongoing development at the club.
“That grand final day has to be it for me – we won every senior grade and that was my last day of playing so I had the fairy tale ending,” she said.
“But I’m so lucky to have coached my son for a short time and seeing him rep the double blue is a dream come true.
“I really enjoyed playing but coaching can be so satisfying when you see kids come together and improve as a team, and there’s still kids out there playing who I first had as under sevens.”
Kathryn has high hopes for the women’s game in South Australia but believes further steps can be taken to shore up rugby’s long-term growth.
“Probably 10 years ago, the competition was struggling with 3 teams and it was on players at the time to take a lot of ownership and do the hard yards to get the game back where it is now.
“Things are better now but I would like to see more support and more investment in the women’s game.
“We want to keep growing and lay a platform for girls through juniors because it’s such a special community.”