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This time of the year always brings out a range of emotions, both personally and professionally. On the court, the 2016/17 WNBL minor round is over. For us at the MAC Adelaide Lightning, our season has come to an end, without qualifying for a finals appearance. But that doesn’t mean we failed. I have learnt so much this past season on what I believe the word ‘success’ means to me, most significantly, it’s not always measured in the win / loss column. In the previous 16 years of my professional basketball career, success was often measured by Championships or medals. But, after this season, I feel quite differently. If somebody had asked me before the season started “how would you feel if you had 15 losses before your team claimed their first win?” I would have answered very differently than to how I feel now.
On reflection, the necessary qualities for any successful team include; being able to handle adversity, be a ‘we’ group by putting the team first and play with relentless persistence no matter the circumstances. The MAC Adelaide Lightning squad embraced all these things, which made it a rewarding team to be a part of. I believe these values were easy to follow when you have amazing support staff who sacrifice so much of their time and energy to do all they can to help us. Just one example of this is when our 43-year-old assistant coach, Jo Hill, would suit up (and dominate) because of injuries with a lack of numbers at training!
Even though we knew it was mathematically impossible to make the playoffs towards the end of the season, our competitive nature and drive to compete never let up. Coach Chris Lucas’ practices were just as intense as our games and our focus on playing 40 minutes of consistent, quality basketball was always the end goal. This is something that I really liked about the attitude of our group. Clearly the team is in good shape for the 2017/18 WNBL Season.
The best example of the team’s attitude was on full display in the final round against Canberra. They needed the win to keep their finals hopes alive. For any of those in attendance, most would have assumed that we needed to win to advance, as we led from start to finish, winning 76 – 74, a huge upset for the Capitals. Although the win was special, being able to share the court with my amazing friend, Carly Wilson, in her final WNBL home game, is something I’ll treasure forever.
As I’m in the twilight of my career, it’s usually during this time of the year that I reflect on what I love so much about the game of basketball. What I miss already after only such a short time away from the court is the high physical and mental challenge of training each day. I certainly crave the competitiveness and always being able to learn from it. One big thing I have learnt from this season is I can enjoy this game just as much without getting a win on the board each week. If the work ethic and mental approach to improve is there it will be satisfying no matter the outcome.
Since the completion of our WNBL season, 36er Tyson Hoffman and I were fortunate enough to be able to spend time in Coober Pedy - home of the Opal! The trip provided the opportunity to promote basketball in rural South Australia and educate school children on the importance of road safety, especially in rural areas. We gave away hundreds of ‘MAC’ basketballs to the broader community, donated by the Motor Accident Commission, and spent the day running clinics for 100’s of kids – bringing back fond memories of my primary school days when we had similar clinics with the likes of Mark Davis and Brett Maher! Later that evening as we were being given a scenic tour of the Opal town, I was humbled to see many of those MAC basketballs bouncing in the front yards – clearly, we had an impact!
While watching my 5-year-old niece practice shooting hoops in her backyard I now only have one wish for the WNBL next season! That is for the WNBL to be back on television. I want all young basketballers to be able to follow their idols on TV. Just like I was lucky enough to do when I had a dream as a child of playing for the Adelaide Lightning.
Now the WNBL finals are in full swing I encourage whoever can attend the games live to do so. Or if that is not possible tune in via Live Streaming on YouTube. It is a great opportunity to watch and learn from some of the best female basketballers in the world. Good luck to Sydney, Dandenong, Perth and Townsville… May the best team win!
Australian professional basketball player, having played in Australia's Women's National Basketball League (WNBL), Europe, and the WNBA. MAC Brand Ambassador. Chocolate Lover.