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Round 10 with the MAC Adelaide Lightning is now complete and the WNBL Christmas break is fast approaching. People close to me know how much I love Christmas and all that goes with it; spending quality time with family and friends, the food, and of course the presents! However, this year, I would forgo all of that for our first win! My 4-year-old niece innocently asked if we’d won the game last week against Dandenong. With her mum’s nod in the background, I said yes, both of us knowing this would get a ‘happier’ response from a 4-year-old! As soon as I said it I felt bad, thinking about how hard we are working as a team at training day in, day out. It’s not always about winning. Do I believe that we deserve a win? Yes, but it doesn’t come easy. This is the best women’s basketball league in Australia and arguably one of the top leagues in the world. As I touched on in my first blog, for most of our squad, this is their first WNBL season and our team has improved so much already.
This elite level of the WNBL means every team needs to train in a full-time capacity. And we do. In fact, our usual weekly program consists of 4 team trainings, 1 pool, 2 weights and up to 5 individual shooting sessions. Yet due to the financial nature of our game in Australia, the majority of our squad also has to juggle study and work commitments. It would be great to see the day when there is enough financial backing that players don’t have to run off to work after a 6am training!
6am trainings usually start with a 5am alarm(allowing for a hit of the snooze button for me), or in Alex Ciabattoni’s case, 3 or 4 hits of the snooze button! These 5am starts often result in various states of delirium; two stories spring to mind from this season already. One when Colleen Planeta left her apartment for practice with teammate Sam Logic, completely forgetting to bring her bag, including basketball shoes, and not realising until arriving at the stadium. Handling the situation like a true pro, she finished the session in her runners. Another casualty to the early morning starts was Sarah Elsworthy. Claiming her 5am alarm actually went off at midnight, she got ready for a weights and shooting session. The rookie 18-year-old got dressed, made herself some toast and went to drive off for practice totally oblivious that it was just after midnight. Her car was blocked in the drive way, so she went back inside to ask teammate and housemate Chelsea Brook for the keys to move her car. A bit dazed, Chelsea asked what time it was. To Sarah’s surprise she discovered it was only 12.30am. So she just missed out on the record for the all-time earliest arrival to training…
One of the things that Chris Lucas wanted to implement when taking on the coaching position was a pathway for young South Australians. He certainly has achieved this with 11 of the entire squad being South Aussies;10 of whom are very young. Well, compared to me anyway!! Chris and his assistants Marcus Wong, Jo Hill and Brenton Johnston are truly dedicated to develop every player in this team. And on the point of Chris’s dedication to helping us on court, he’s the only coach I know that’s had 2 wrist surgeries due to passing the ball too much during individuals!
Two years ago the Adelaide Lightning was on the brink of folding due to financial strain. If it wasn’t for our naming right sponsors the Motor Accident Commission (MAC) coming on board, then there’s every chance the Lightning would no longer exist. It would have been devastating for the WNBL and South Australian basketball if after 23 years in the league, the Lightning disappeared. MAC has given our squad of 15 players the opportunity to continue to play basketball at the highest level in Australia. I’m certain I’m not alone when I reflect on how important their support is.
Jess Good and I are privileged to have been given roles as MAC ambassadors. Being a MAC ambassador is a great way to extend the delivery of MAC’s road safety messages and to be able to engage and educate the community. One of the goals is to encourage people to reflect on their choices when it comes to road safety. We hope to influence behaviours and encourage people to be ‘game changers’ on the road. I will touch on this more in my next blog when I write about my cousin, who had a life-changing incident due to an inattentive road user.
This week we welcomed a new young member to our squad, Anneli Maley. Her international experience with Junior Australian teams will be a great asset to the squad. I’m sure all our Lightning fans will give her a warm welcome when she hits the court.
Australian professional basketball player, having played in Australia's Women's National Basketball League (WNBL), Europe, and the WNBA. MAC Brand Ambassador. Chocolate Lover.