Sunshine Coast Lightning has today announced that Noeline Taurua will step down from her role as Head Coach at season's end, with the Club set to honour her during this week's home game against the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
The Club is immensely grateful for Taurua's service as a key contributor in Lightning's formative years, punctuated by back-to-back Premierships in 2017 and 2018.
The Club's on court success has continued in Season 2019, with the team currently sitting on top of the SSN ladder with a confirmed third-successive finals berth.
After taking on the dual roles of Lightning and New Zealand Head Coach over the past 12 months, Noeline also saw success with her national side, leading the Silver Ferns to a Netball World Cup Gold Medal.
CEO Danielle Smith expressed her enormous thanks to Taurua for the impact that she has made both on and off court across her three-year tenure.
"On behalf of everyone at Sunshine Coast Lightning, including all of our partners, members, fans and the entire Sunshine Coast community, I'd like to sincerely thank Noeline for her tremendous personal contribution to our Club," Smith said.
"As Lightning's inaugural coach she has played a pivotal role in shaping the foundations of our Club and leaves an indelible legacy for our future.
"Leading the Club to back-to-back premierships in our first two seasons was obviously an outstanding achievement, but it is also her endearing personality and warmth with our fans and the community that has further enriched our Club.
"We wish Noels and her family the very best in the next chapter of their lives."
Known for her astute coaching abilities and measured demeanour, Taurua remained humble when reflecting on her journey as Head Coach of Lightning.
"I am truly honoured and thankful to Lightning, our wonderful family of partners and the Sunshine Coast community," Taurua said.
"It has given me the opportunity to coach some of the best netballers in the world, to witness the growth and development of players who are stars in the game, as well as the next generation coming through.
"I've had the privilege of working and learning from our support staff who are the best in their chosen fields and have been part of a tight knit Club whose staff members are always willing to go above and beyond.
"As a collective, what we have gone on to achieve has far exceeded my expectations and dreams.
"For family reasons, I have made the difficult decision that it is time for me to step back from full time coaching duties at Lightning and return home to New Zealand.
"My family and I have had the most amazing time living on the Sunshine Coast and being part of the Lightning family, but now feels like the right time."
Lightning Captain and fellow New Zealander Laura Langman paid tribute to her long-term coach, while respecting Taurua's decision to return home.
"Noels is a special type of person and it is an honour to play under her for so many years in NZ and at Lightning – and I can undoubtedly say everyone has been impacted by her time on the Sunshine Coast, Langman said.
The Club is pleased to announce that Assistant Coach Kylee Byrne will take over as Head Coach of Lightning next season, in what is set to be a seamless transition.
"Kylee has been a leader and pivotal influence around the Club over the past three years and it's with great pride that I announce her as our Head Coach for the next two seasons," Smith said.
"The long-term sustainability and continued success of our Club is of utmost importance, and the Board had no hesitation in endorsing Kylee as Noeline's successor.
"We were thrilled to have such a high calibre candidate already in our program, and the ability to promote from within is a strong endorsement on the people that we have at this Club.
Byrne has been influential in overseeing the development of Lightning players and working in partnership with Taurua since the Club's inception and has been an asset to the coaching program.
"I am equally proud and filled with confidence with the promotion of my coaching partner over the past three years, Kylee Byrne, to the head coaching position and have full belief in what she can continue to achieve at this Club," Taurua said.
Kylee has extensive coaching credentials spanning over 13 years, including stints with the Queensland Firebirds, Australian Institute of Sport and Netball Australia.
She was also recently appointed as the Australian U/21s Head Coach, in addition to her Lightning role, which further demonstrates the respect she has in the Australian netball community.
"Working so closely with Noeline over the past three seasons has been an honour and an opportunity that I will be eternally grateful for," Byrne said.
"We are a better place and better people from having Noels with us, but now wish her every happiness in the next phase of her life.
"We still have work to do but there will be a little bit of extra motivation this year to finish the job.
"While next season is still a while away, I can't wait to build on what we have started and feel privileged to be endorsed as Head Coach of Sunshine Coast Lightning moving forward."
Lightning Foundation Player and Australian Diamond Steph Wood said she was excited to play underneath Kylee as Head Coach next season.
"Kylee has been such a great coach and mentor to me from my time at AIS and now Lightning and I can't wait to see what we can achieve as a group with her as head coach next year," Wood said.
Limited tickets remain for this Saturday night's final home match of the season at USC Stadium against Adelaide Thunderbirds, in what is anticipated to be a sell-out as Lightning fans honour Noeline.