Laura Hill stepped into the water polo refereeing cauldron as a way to 'give back'.
Now she is on a pathway that recently saw her officiating some of the best players in the country.
Hill was one of two Tamworth referees to be appointed to a game at the Sydney Super League round in Newcastle. She did the Drummoyne Devils v Sydney Northern Beaches women's clash while Gail Salter controlled one side for the Hunter Hurricanes women's sides match-up with the NSW under-19s team.
It was for both their first time refereeing at that level and a great experience.
"It was really good," Hill said.
"Initially it was quite nerve-wracking but it was great to be exposed to that high level water polo."
Salter added: "It was a fantastic opportunity. Obviously Laura and I being based in Tamworth we don't get the opportunity to do high level games so much."
She had back in January refereed the men's and women's gold medal matches at the Queensland State Championships, in the process achieving her advanced level accreditation, but was still admittedly "a bit nervous" at the start.
"But I took one look in the water and saw who was playing and said right I've refereed these girls before I know what to expect," she said.
Both were happy with how they officiated as was delegate Noel Harrod, especially Hill.
"He was very happy with Laura's performance and commented how refreshing it was to have a regional referee be competent at that level," Salter said.
On the back of what he saw he encouraged her to put her hand up to referee at the Australian Youth Championships which are due to be held in Brisbane in April.
Hill, who also plays and will coach the Tamworth under-12s at the upcoming state development tournament in Orange, wasn't originally planning to.
Born in Tamworth (her family later moved to Bingara and then Alstonville), she first started refereeing when she was a junior.
"I guess I always like to give back and not many people want to ref," she said.
"It's something that I thought I'll have a go and see what happens. And people said I'm not a bad ref so I kept running with it."
After doing a bit of reffing in the local competition over in Western Australia, when she moved back to Tamworth three years ago Salter took her under her wing.
Both are hopeful of having the opportunity to do more games.
There was also plenty of Tamworth talent in the water with Mikalya Gross, Lucy Hofman and Em Grellman suiting up for the Hurricanes women and former Australian men's captain Nathan Thomas coaching the Balmain men's side. Daughter Nioka also played for the Balmain women's side as well as the under-19s state team.
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