CRICKET: From the halls of Maclean High School to the bright lights of the SCG, Harwood first grade cricketer Carly Leeson is ready to take the next step in her career into the second instalment of the WBBL competition.
Leeson walked out of her final HSC exam on Wednesday but her freedom will be short-lived as she is set to join last season grand finalists Sydney Sixers in the harbour city in just under a month's time.
With women's cricket expanding at a rapid rate in Australia, Leeson's meteoric rise to the televised competition could not have come at a better time.
"It's definitely the next chapter in my career. Finishing school has been a big part of my life and this is the next chapter for my cricket," she said.
"It is definitely a big opportunity for me to play alongside people who have played the game at the highest levels and for a long time. I will get to learn so much off them."
Leeson has worked tirelessly in recent years playing all levels of the game from captaining North Coast to back-to-back Under 18s Country Championships to playing with the Australian Under 23 Indoor side.
Now that she has signed with the Sixers it is a reward for the effort of past years.
"To me this opportunity means a lot of years of hard work have been worth it," she said. "This is definitely a bigger stage then playing at Harwood Oval but I think I am more excited than nervous."
Sixers' head coach Ben Sawyer who coached Leeson during her time with the Under 18s NSW said he looked forward to working with the 17-year-old.
"Carly is a hard hitting middle order bat, medium pace bowler and exceptional fielder, making her tailor made to the T20 game," Sawyer said. "I am really looking forward to seeing her in action against the world's best female cricketers this summer."
Leeson will join a star-studded Sixers' roster alongside Australian Southern Stars representatives Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy and Australian women's cricket legend Lisa Sthalekar.
"Having seen Carly come up through the ranks from North Coast Cricket Academy to NSW U15s and NSW U18s it is exciting to get an opportunity to play along side her," Sthalekar said.
"The Sydney Sixers is the perfect environment to develop her game to another level.
"I wouldn't be surprised if this year we see a new star in the WBBL."
Leeson nominated for Clarence Valley Sports AwardsCarly Leesonr's exploits on the cricket and indoor cricket arena saw her win GDSC Junior Sportsperson of the Month in June. As a result she is in the running to be named Clarence Valley Junior Female Sportsperson of the Year as well as the Grafton Shoppingworld People's Choice Award at the Clarence Valley Sports Awards at Grafton District Services Club next Saturday, November 12. Voting for the People's Choice Award, which carries a $250 voucher at any Grafton Shoppingworld store of choice, closes today (Friday, November 6) at 5pm. This is the third year in a row Leeson has been nominated for the awards, including in 2014 when she was named the inaugural Clarence Valley Junior Female Sportsperson of the Year. Tickets ($30) to the event must also be purchased by 5pm today (Friday, November 6) at GDSC, Sportspower Grafton and Kanes Sport Yamba and Maclean.