Sam Poolman and Krystal Dallinger share a laugh at the Giants home game. Image via May Bailey.

When Krystal got the call from Giants superstar Sam Poolman asking her if she wanted to design the team’s Indigenous Round dress for the second year, the young Newcastle netballer knew she had a chance to tell a new story on the canvas.

Last time around, Dallinger had poured her story of moving from Dubbo to Newcastle to pursure her netballing dreams into the artwork. The captured narrative had “blown away” the Giants, and when the league-wide round appeared on the horizon again, they only wanted Krystal to bring her story to life the second time around.

“I was talking to Sam before they had decided and it looked like they were going to get someone else to tell their story, so when I got the call from her a little while later saying that all the girls had loved what I’d done and wanted me to do it again, it just was so awesome,” Krystal said of hearing the news.

Dallinger kept elements of her adventure from Dubbo in the story, but she’s added a new chapter to tell as well: finding a second home with the Giants netball club.

“This time around my design was a lot about family, when I did the dress last year I was told a lot that I was ‘part of the Giants family now’ and I really felt that, so I wanted to share what that meant to me,” she told the Women’s Chronicle.

“It really made me think about how much in sport everyone in your team becomes your family. The Giants family is made up of the players, the fans, and everyone at the club, and I wanted to bring that across in what I created.”

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Dallinger built the design on a similar building block from last year, with the story of her move from Dubbo. From there she added her family totem animal, the turtle, to represent her newfound place in the club. Finally, she emblazoned the centre of the dress with the Tree of Life, with the design flowing into the centre-piece.

The Giants wore their Indigenous dresses twice this year, first in their battle against local rivals the Swifts, and then again at the Quaycentre against the Vixens.

Krystal presents her artwork at the Giants home game.

Krystal saw the girls run out in her dresses. Although she’d had the experience before in 2018, she admitted she just sat back in awe when she saw them this time around. Once again she had been moved by it all.

“It’ll never get old seeing the girls run out onto the court with the dress, I just sat back and thought “I did that, wow,” and it’s a really humbling experience,” she said. “Not many people get these opportunities, so it’s a really special feeling. I’m blown away.”

Not only did Krystal get to see her dress out on the court again, but she said she feels “thankful” that these opportunities have brought her closer to the superstars in the Giants team. For her, that may be the best part of it all.

“To find another family is always just so special, and I’ve created all these wonderful friendships with a lot of the Giants girls through the process,” Dallinger said.

“They like my posts, and share them around and things like that. It’s just amazing to have these friendships, and to see that these netball stars are just normal people. They’re lovely, amazing, and it’s been a real treasure to share the journey with them.”