volume 2
Hoop High
A history of Australian Olympic basketball
1956-2000
e Players
© 2015 Dr Adrian Hurley
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or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written
permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations
in a book review.
Published by: Dr Adrian Hurley,
Hoop High
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Fyshwick ACT 2609
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Limited edition 2015
Hoop High: A history of Australian Olympic Basketball 1956-2000
Volume 1: The Games and Officials
Volume 2: The Players
ISBN 978-0-9942248-1-1
Printed in Australia
2
| Contents
Contents
Preface 5
e Players | Women 7
Jenny Cheesman 8
Patricia Cockrem 12
Karen Dalton 14
Kathy Foster 16
Sue Geh 18
Wendy Laidlaw (nee Anderson)
20
Robyn Maher (nee Gull) 22
Bronwyn Marshall 26
Patricia Mickan 28
Marina Moffa 30
Julie Nykiel 32
Donna Quinn 34
Sandy Brondello 36
Shelley Gorman 40
Maree Keogh (nee White) 42
Debbie Slimmon 44
Michele Timms 46
Carla Boyd (Porter) 50
Michelle Brogan 52
Michelle Chandler 56
Allison Cook (Tranquilli) 58
Trish Fallon 60
Fiona Robinson (Hannan) 64
Rachael Sporn 66
Jenny Whittle 70
Kristi Harrower 74
Jo Hill 78
Lauren Jackson 80
Annie La Fleur (nee Burgess) 84
3
Contents |
e Players | Men 87
Peter Bumbers 88
Colin Burdett 90
George Dancis 92
Stan Dargis 94
Peter Demetropoulos 96
Ken Finch 98
Bruce Flick 100
Inga Freidenfelds 102
Geoff Heskett 104
Algimantis Ignatavicius 106
Merv Moy 108
Peter Sutton 110
Terry Charlton 112
Alan Dawe 114
Lindsay Gaze 116
Ross Graham 118
Alan Hare 120
John Heard 122
Malcolm Heard 124
Richard Hughes 126
Colyn Whitehead 128
Bill Wyatt 130
Michael Ah Matt 132
Ken Cole 134
Mike Dancis 136
Scott Davie 138
John Gardiner 140
Brendon Hackwill 142
Les Hody 144
Werner Linde 146
Carl Rodwell 148
Peter Byrne 150
Albert Leslie 152
Ray Tomlinson 154
Ray Watson 156
Rodney Wulff 158
Tom Bender 160
Perry “Rocky” Crosswhite 162
Richard Duke 164
Ken James 166
Brian Kerle 168
Toli Koltun (Koltuniewicz) 170
Glenn Marsland 172
Eddie Palubinskas 174
Ian Watson 176
Tony Barnett 178
Andris Blicavs 180
Robbie Cadee 182
Andrew Campbell 184
John Maddock 186
Russell Simon 188
Michael Tucker 190
Peter Walsh 192
Peter Ali 194
Steve Breheny 196
Mel Dalgleish 198
Ian Davies 200
Gordie McLeod 202
Danny Morseu 204
Les Riddle 206
Larry Sengstock 208
Phil Smyth 212
Ray Borner 216
Wayne Carroll 220
Brad Dalton 222
Mark Dalton 226
Andrew Gaze 230
Damian Keogh 234
Mark Bradtke 238
Luc Longley 242
Darryl Pearce 246
Robert Sibley 248
Andrew Vlahov 250
John Dorge 254
Shane Heal 256
Leroy Loggins 260
Mike McKay 262
Scott Fisher 264
Tonny Jensen 266
Brett Maher 268
Sam Mackinnon 272
Patrick Reidy 274
Tony Ronaldson 276
Chris Anstey 280
Martin Cattalini 282
Ricky Grace 284
Paul Rogers 286
Jason Smith 290
4
5
Preface |
Preface
In writing this book I have been able to study each of the
Olympians from each of the Olympics and that has allowed me
to recognise the many characteristics that make champions.
Common threads identify these champions.
All of them had a strong determination to win. They believed in
themselves, their team-mates, their coaches and the support
staff. This belief was essential for them to succeed, many times
against the odds.
There was a realization amongst them that doing your best was
the way to succeed. In doing their best, they realised that success
was more likely if you did not set limits on yourself or your team.
There was a definite feeling that other countries at times were
“happy to be there” and did not set their goals “too high”. The
Australians on the other-hand were always disappointed if they
lost, always thought they should do better and rated themselves
a medal chance” regardless of the odds.
They knew that they were competing against the best in the
world and to do that they had to be highly trained and in top
physical condition. It was a decision each Olympian made to be
better than other players in Australia and as good as the best in
the world. On the occasions they were as a team not as physically
fit or well prepared as they should have been, the players were
highly critical and disappointed.
The ultimate effectiveness of the team was due to the many
bonds between players, coaches and the whole team. There
were always team and individual values underlying the team and
these were interwoven with a myriad of intangibles any one of
which could mean the difference between victory and defeat,
success and failure.
The ability of the coaches and the players in particular to control
anxieties, keep their nerve and relentlessly pursue victory with
courage gave Australian Olympic Basketball Teams the extra
character to perform above the expectations of many other
nations. The so called Anzac Spirit”, the legend of that spirit,
history and their commitments to each other enabled them to
perform and realise results above anything they themselves and
others dreamed they could do.
Trust was also a strong theme that the players emphasised. They
stressed that they had to fully trust their coaches, their staff and
their team-mates. They also had to take risks. The greater the
risk, the greater the reward was a common conclusion.
Throughout this book there are many stories of how Olympians
had to overcome huge challenges in their lives, such as
moving to a new country after a war in their home country, or
overcoming distances they had to travel to practice basketball
or prepare their skills for what was needed to become an
Olympian. Sacrifice was very much to the fore. They had to
delay education, forgo careers, live on meagre incomes, and
deny themselves the opportunities that their peers had, in order
to live their dreams of being an Olympian.
Love of country, pride in the Green and Gold and in being an
Aussie was evident in everyone one of them. They cherished
the opportunity to represent their sport and their country on the
biggest stage in the sporting world...the Olympic Games.
Their stories bring out the intimacy of being on an Olympic Team.
They knew each other’s life story’s, they shared the pain of defeat
and the elation of victory. They shared in each other’s injuries,
and personal challenges. Theirs was a closeness not experienced
by many. They had to stand alone, yet together!
They did not see themselves as heroes. That was the way others
thought of them or made them.
They were our country’s Olympic basketball players. No-one can
ever take that away from them. Through this book I hope that they
get the greater recognition they deserve, and that their families and
friends will be better able to share with them what they achieved.
For those who are yet to be Australian Olympic basketball players
I hope that the stories of those who have gone before you will
inspire you and to drive you to achieve your goals and dreams. If
this does happen I think you will come to realise that history is
not something behind us, it is something that follows us.
Dr Adrian Hurley
December, 2013
6
7
e Players | Women
chapter text here
8
Jennifer “Jenny” Cheesman was born November 2nd, 1957 in Adelaide, South Australia. She started playing
basketball when she was twelve years of age with the Forbes Rebel Club at Marion Stadium. “I loved it right
from the beginning,” recalls Jenny. She also played at Glengowrie Primary School with friends. ey didnt have
a coach and coached themselves. At this stage in her life softball and netball were her two main sports.
5 feet 5 inch (166cm) Guard
1984, 1988 Olympic Games
1984,1988
| e Players | Jenny Cheesman
Jenny Cheesman
Jenny Cheesman (Basketball Australia)
Jenny had been into sport from a very young age. Whether it was
trying to do 1,000 skips with a skipping rope without a mistake as
a five year old, or water skiing as a four year old, or playing catch
as a three year old with future Essendon champion AFL player
Paul Weston, Jenny was caught up in physical activity.
Softball became significant in her life. As an eleven year old
she overheard a conversation about the World Championships
being held in 1974 and she worked out that as a sixteen year old
she could make that team, so she set out on a training program
which involved anything her older sister (who played A grade
softball) did plus extra sessions. She was selected for A Grade
softball as a thirteen year old and as a fifteen year old she was
selected to the Australian Softball Team.
Her first senior Australian representation was with the Australian
Softball Team in a representative game against New Zealand. As
a sixteen year old Jenny went to the USA as a member of the
Australian Softball Team at the World Softball Championships.
She comments, “Goal setting is hugely motivating, even if you
don’t understand what you are doing!”
In netball Jenny played A Grade when she was thirteen. She
was selected on the Australian Schools Championship Team
and the South Australian (SA) State Netball Team in 1973, but
did not play in the Australian Championships due to an injury to
her knee. “1973 was a memorable and busy year for me and a
costly one for dad, as I played in six Australian Championships,
the Junior and Senior SA State teams for softball, Netball and
basketball, and for Australia in softball,” recalls Jenny.
At the Glenelg Basketball Association, Jenny loved the
basketball. “My early years at Glenelg were great. It was a
bottom Club so it was not that hard for me to play A Grade by the
time I was thirteen years of age. I’d only been playing basketball
for some eighteen months but the women in the team were so
supportive,says Jenny. Julie Nykiel and Tracey Morris (future
Australian players) joined the club, Brendan Flynn (future 1984
Women’s Olympic Coach) and his wife Heather joined the Club
and Glenelg basketball was taking off. Jenny was a year older
than Julie Nykiel (Grade 7) and Julie played in another team
(Grade 6). Julie recalls, “I remember seeing her play as a centre in
netball and thought to myself that she was so naturally talented
and I greatly admired the way she conducted herself on and off
the court. That was the first moment I think that I saw her as my
role model and hero.
Jenny was learning about losing games, stopping star players,
and leadership. “I also learnt about not giving up when we
defeated Torrens in a Grand Final. We were down some thirteen
points with three minutes remaining and we pressured on
defence to come home and win by a point,” says Jenny.
Jenny went to the Australian Basketball Club Championships as
a fifteen year old and vividly remembers getting “smashed by
fifty points” by a strong Melbourne CYMS team that contained
Australian players Karin Maar, Jan Bowman and Jan Smithwick.
“That sparked a desire in me to understand the game and to deal
with pressure,” says Jenny.
Jenny was selected on the SA Under16 Girls Basketball Team for
two years (1971, 1972) for the Australian Championships (the first
years the championships were held for that age group for girls).
SA won the title both years.
She captained the team in her second year with Jenny making
a foul-shot to win the game in overtime. “I learnt a lot in that
game....being a team...handling pressure....pushing yourself
physically...and how important the mental side of the game is,”
recalls Jenny. “I was incredibly lucky to have so many wonderful
people coach at my Club in those days.
There were no Australian Junior Teams for girls in the nineteen
seventies so Jenny had to wait until she was seventeen (1975)
when she played for Australia at the Women’s World Basketball
Championships which were played in Colombia. The Australian
Team performed well and finished the tournament in 10th
position. There were also not many basketball tours for the
women in those days and Jenny’s next tour was to Europe and
China in 1978 where the Australian Womens Basketball Team
5 feet 5 inch (166cm) Guard
1984, 1988 Olympic Games
Jenny Cheesman warming up in the 1984 LA Olympic Games
(Basketball Australia)
1984,1988
9
e Players | Jenny Cheesman |
played some fifteen games. In 1978 she also played on the
winning Australian Women’s Basketball Team at the Oceania
Championships.
In 1979 Jenny played for the Australian Team in the Women’s
World Championships in Korea and the team had an exceptional
tournament to finish in 4th place. Even though she was barely
twenty two years of age Jenny was now a starting player on the
Australian Team and one of its leaders. In 1980 the Australian
Women’s Team went to Bulgaria for the pre-Olympic Qualification
tournament but failed to qualify for the Olympics that were held
in Moscow. Jenny was now the Captain of the team at twenty
three years of age.
In 1982 Jenny led the Australian Women’s Team in the Chinese
Taipei Tournament.
She captained the Australian Team at the1983 Women’s World
Championships held in Brazil. The team came 11th. Jenny
played for the Australian Team when it won the inaugural
Commonwealth Basketball Championships the same year.
She then travelled to China in 1984 for seven games with the
Australian Women’s Team. Jenny and the Australian Team then
travelled to the1984 Olympic Qualification Tournament in Cuba.
The Australian Team played ten games in the Tournament and
was desperately unlucky to not qualify for the Olympic Games
after finishing 6th.
Jenny and the team arrived back home in Australia, but were
then informed that due to a Soviet boycott the Australian Team
was now in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Jenny described making the 1984 Olympic Games as, A life-
long dream come true...Since I was twelve years old my aim has
been to play basketball at an Olympic Games”. At the 1984 Los
Angeles Olympics Games, Jenny and her husband, Phil Smyth,
would become the first husband and wife to captain Australian
sporting teams at the same Olympics.
This was the first time that an Australian Women’s Basketball
Team had qualified for an Olympic Games. Jenny was named
Captain of the team. Although they only won one game in the LA
Olympics (a mighty upset over Yugoslavia) the Australian Team
finished in 5th place (from only six teams in the tournament).
By this time Jenny was also a coach at the Australian Institute of
Sport (AIS). She continued to coach the cream of Australian girl
basketball players while leading her country on the court.
In 1985 Jenny captained the Australian Team to the Gold Medal
in the inaugural Australia Games. She then led the team to
success in the 1985 Oceania Championships and on a twelve
match tour of Europe.
Jenny played for the Australian Team in the 1986 World
Championships in the Soviet Union. The Australians finished the
tournament in 9th position.
1984,19881984,1988
10
| e Players | Jenny Cheesman
Jenny Cheesman
She toured with the Australian Team to Europe in 1987 for eleven
games and to the USA and Canada for seventeen games.
In 1988 the emphasis for Jenny and her team-mates was on the
Seoul Olympic Games. Jenny played for the Australian Team
against Japan and against Canada in Australia before the team
played in the Goodwill Games held in Korea.
The Australian Team’s biggest task however was to get through
the 1988 Olympic Qualification Tournament in Malaysia. This was
a tough eleven game tournament for the team. The Australian
Team secured a place in the 1988 Olympic Tournament in Seoul
after they gained 6th place in the Qualification Tournament.
Before heading to Seoul Jenny captained the Australian Team
in a tournament in Riga, Latvia. The team then travelled back
to Australia and then up to Korea. They certainly were “battle-
hardened” if not very tired by the time they reached Seoul.
The Seoul Olympics were huge for Jenny and the Australian
Team. She was named as Captain of the team. After a slow
start to the tournament the Australians upset the USSR for that
country’s first ever Olympic loss in womens basketball. They lost
to Yugoslavia on a fluke basket that denied them entry to the
Gold Medal Game, and then lost the Bronze Medal playoff to the
USSR. The Australian Team gained 4th place the best result to
that time.
Jenny had played 167 games for the Australian Womens
Basketball Team between 1975 and 1988 and was Captain
of the team in 133 games from 1980 to 1988. She retired from
international basketball at the conclusion of the 1988 Seoul
Olympic Games.
Team-mate Julie Nykiel describes Jenny as, “A true champion
both on and off the court. She is one of the greatest players
Australia and the World has ever seen, a master at whatever she
put her mind to, and I felt privileged to have played with her.”
Australian team-mate Trish Cockrem comments, “I admired
Jenny Cheesman a lot and used her as my yardstick.
In the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Jenny
played 296 games. 109 games were with Canberra (1986-91), 37
with the AIS (1983-84) and 150 with Noarlunga, and Adelaide
(1981-82). In 1985 she played with Canberra in the Second
Division of the WNBL as that club attempted to qualify for the
First Division. She missed the 1990 WNBL season with Canberra
to have a baby. With Canberra in all time statistics (dated 2012)
she is 4th in scoring (1474), 5th in baskets made (539), 2nd in
free throw attempts (465) 2nd free throws made (366) 2nd in free
throw percentage (79%), 5th in steals (176) and 1st in free throws
attempted in a single game (18).
Jenny was to go on and carve out an exceptional career in
coaching, with the AIS teams and with Australia. She won the
WNBL Coach of the Year with the AIS in 1990.
Her coaching career for Australia (as Assistant Coach)
commenced in 1993 in Australia against the Ukraine, Athletes
in Action, Japan, Russia, Bulgaria and the Pre-Oz Games (Brazil,
France, Canada, USA) for the 1994 World Championships.
The 1994 World Championships were held in Australia. Australian
Team (now called the Opals) finished in 4th position. Jenny’s
coaching career as Assistant Coach with the Opals continued in
a similar vein through 1995. She was a member of the Australian
Team coaching staff for games against China and Korea in
Australia, and on tours to Europe, Canada, Chattanooga USA and
then to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics where the Opals finished with
their first ever Olympic Medal (Bronze).
The big target and challenge for Jenny and the Opals was the
Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The Opals had home series against
Cuba, Brazil, Russia, NZ, the C7 International Challenge, the USA
Challenge, Wollongong Invitational as well as a tour to Europe
before they entered the arena in Sydney. The Opals played
brilliantly at home, lost only one game and were Silver Medallists.
The Sydney Olympics brought down the curtain on a fabulous
basketball career for Jenny Cheesman with the Australian
Women’s Basketball Team, first as a player, and as the first
Olympic Captain, through to two Olympics as an Assistant Coach.
She had captained Australia in two Olympic Games and two
World Championships and played in four World Championships.
1984,1988
1984,1988
11
1984,1988
e Players | Jenny Cheesman |
1984,1988
She was an outstanding leader, athlete, pressure player, highly
skilled and a consummate point guard. She possessed a very high
basketball IQ, and was one of the most motivated athletes of her
time. She coached basketball to pass on her immense knowledge
and experience and served as an inspiration for team-mates and
the generations of girls that followed her.
In 2004 the Fair Play Award at the Under 14 Girls Australian
Championships was named in her honour. That same year she
was inducted into the Basketball Australia Hall of Fame. In 2006,
Cheesman polled as the 8th greatest Australian female player in
the Australian Women’s 25-year Basketball Team.
Jenny Cheesman has been awarded an AM for services to
basketball.
Jenny Cheesman playing for the Canberra Capitals (The Basketballer)
chapter text here
12
| e Players | Patricia Cockrem
1984
Patricia Cockrem
Trish Cockrem in Australian Uniform
(T. Cockrem)
Patricia Cockrem recalls what got her started in basketball. “I was a kid growing up in Ayr North Queensland.
Ayr has a population of about 10,000. We were lucky enough to have a team of American basketball players
come with Ian Watson to play an exhibition match. Ian Watson was still playing for Australia at that time.
He was billeted with us. Ian later became Director of Basketball in Queensland. He visited Ayr on numerous
occasions most times either staying or visiting my family. Ian told many stories about the Olympics and put that
seed in my head to play at the Olympics. He also fostered my basketball and introduced me to Bill Palmer who
later coached St Kilda and invited me to play with St. Kilda. So between them both they got me to Melbourne
to go to University and play for St Kilda. ese two men, plus my dad and my coach in Ayr, Patsy Nielsen were
the biggest influences in my basketball career.
5 feet 6 inch (167cm) Guard
1984 Olympic Games
Patricia Cockrem was born on the 17th of May, 1961 in Ayr,
Queensland. Her primary education was at East Ayr State
Primary School where she excelled at sports and was School
Captain. At Ayr High School she was school Vice Captain and
Captain of her sports house. An excellent all round sportsperson
she played golf, netball, athletics, basketball, hockey, vigoro and
backyard cricket.
After her secondary education she attended Burwood University
in Melbourne, gained a Diploma of Education, followed by a
Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Perth.
Patricias association with basketball started when her father
Myles, who played and coached basketball with the Rockets
Club, got his daughters involved when junior basketball was
started in Ayr. She soon adapted to the game. Her earliest
successes were in local Club basketball and then when her team
Celtics won the A Grade competition in Townsville. Her talent was
soon recognised and she was selected on the North Queensland
Under 16 and Under 18 girls teams and won Queensland’s first
ever women’s Australian Championships title. During this period
Patricia received excellent coaching from her father Myles, Patsy
Nielsen, Vince Flynn, Pam Hamilton Smith and Harry Spencer.
In 1978 Trisha was a member of the Queensland Womens
Basketball Team that toured to Canada.
As she has explained, Trisha came to the attention of Olympian
Ian Watson who was the Queensland Director of Coaching.
He advised St Kilda Melbourne’s Coach Bill Palmer “to have a
look” at Trisha as he believed she had great potential. At this
stage Melbourne was the centre of basketball in Australia and
gave Patricia and other Queensland girls the opportunity to play
in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) when it
commenced in 1981.
Coach Palmer recruited Trisha and Tammy Wood (from Mackay)
to Melbourne in 1979 to play for the St Kilda Saints. In 1981 and
1982 Patricia played for the Saints when they won the Women’s
National Basketball League titles.
In one year the Saints, with Trisha as a major force, won the
Victorian State Championship, the Australian Club Championship
and the WNBL...a rare feat.
Trisha first represented Australia in the 1982 Oceania
Championships. Her dynamic play in the WNBL and for Australia
saw her selected to play for the Australian Women’s Basketball
Team in the 1983 World Championships in Sao Paulo Brazil where
the team came ninth. That year the first ever Commonwealth
Basketball Championships were held in New Zealand and Trisha
was a member of the Australian Team that won the Gold Medal.
Only 5 feet 6 inches (167cms) in height Trish was a dynamic
guard with explosive speed. She was strong and an excellent
defender. She was a fierce competitor and excellent team player.
Her leadership was a very important part of her success.
In 1984 Trisha played with the Australian Women’s Team on a
tour to China and was then selected to the Australian Team to
play in the 1984 Olympic Qualification Tournament in Cuba.
Trisha and the Australian Team played exceptionally well in Cuba
and only bad luck and some inspired play from the opposition
prevented them from qualifying for the Olympic Games. Back
home in Australia Trishas disappointment vanished when due to
a Soviet boycott the Australian Team was elevated to play in the
1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Trisha and her team-mates were now members of the first ever
Australian Women’s Olympic Basketball Team.
The 1984 LA Olympic Women’s Basketball was a tough
competition and limited to six teams only. The Australian Team
battled against bigger and more experienced opponents. In their
final game of the tournament they caused a huge upset and
defeated Yugoslavia to take 5th position.
“My favourite memory of LA is walking out of the tunnel onto
the arena at the 1984 Olympics,Trisha recalls. She adds, “For
a sports buff the Olympics were heaven. I could watch and talk
to my heroes.
In 1985 she was a member of the Australian Women’s Team that
won the Gold Medal at the first Australia Games in Melbourne
13
e Players | Patricia Cockrem |
1984
5 feet 6 inch (167cm) Guard
1984 Olympic Games
when they defeated China in the final. She also toured with the
Australian Team to Poland, Bulgaria, Germany and Czechoslovakia
in 1985.
In Australian domestic basketball Trisha moved back to
Queensland in 1984 and played with the Lady Bullets in the
WNBL until 1988.
In 1986 Trisha retired from international basketball.
Unfortunately she ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament in
1988 and decided to retire from the Lady Bullets and the WNBL.
She did continue to play Club basketball after she retired from
WNBL basketball and gave back to the game by coaching.
“Basketball will always be important to me. It runs in my blood,”
Trisha commented upon her retirement from playing the game.
In 1999 she coached her ABA team to the Queensland and
Australian titles and was named by Basketball Australia as
Australian Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year.
In 2005 her ABA team won the Queensland title and played in the
Australian ABA Championships in Geelong.
She coached at Ormiston College and coached the Ipswich
Queensland Basketball League team.
Patricia says, “I advise everyone that no matter who you are or
where you come from, if you set yourself goals and work hard
to achieve them whether in sport or personal life, you will be a
better you.
She adds, “The Olympics were the highlight of my career. It was
the first time that I really thought I had achieved something
special. Everyone treated you special for that short time period.
No-one can take the fact that you are an Olympian away from
you.
Patricia Cockrem was a trailblazer for womens representative
basketball in Queensland and as a member of the first Australian
Women’s Team to play in an Olympic competition. She reserves a
special place in Australian basketball history.
Trish Cockrem in action against Michele Timms in the WNBL
(T. Cockrem)
Trish Cockrem with the 2000 Olympic Torch (T. Cockrem)
chapter text here
14
1984,1988
Karen Dalton (Basketball Australia)
She represented NSW at the Australian Womens Championships
in 1979 and then for the next four years (1979-1983) until the
interstate competition was abandoned with the advent of the
Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL). In 1979 she
moved to the Sutherland Association. She played for Sutherland
in the inaugural year of the WNBL in 1981. Sutherland withdrew
from the WNBL and in 1983 Karen moved to the Bankstown
Association in order to play in the WNBL.
She played total of 375 games in the WNBL and was named
twice as the WNBL Defensive Player of the Year. She finished her
WNBL career in second place all-time in defensive rebounding
at 9.3 rebounds per game, 4th in total points scored (4,161)
and second in career fouls (1,025). A long-time member of
the Bankstown Club and the Sydney Flames Karen established
herself as one of the best WNBL players of her era.
Karen’s international career with the Australian Womens Team
started when she played on a tour to China in 1981. In1982 she
played for the Australian Team in a tournament in Chinese Taipei.
Her club and international form resulted in her selection for the
1983 Womens World Basketball Championships which were held
in Sao Paulo Brazil. The Australian Team finished in 11th place. It
was for Karen the start of a long career representing Australia.
The same year (1983) Karen played for the Australian Women’s
Team when it won the Commonwealth Championships which
were held in New Zealand.
She was selected on the Australian Team that played in the 1984
Olympic Qualification tournament in Cuba. The Australian Team
played very well in the Qualification Tournament and was very
unlucky not to qualify for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
After arriving back in Australia, Karen and her team-mates
received some wonderful news. By virtue of some Soviet Bloc
nations boycotting the LA Games Australia was included in the
1984 LA Olympic Women’s Basketball Tournament. Karen and the
team were to be the first Australian Women’s Basketball Team to
play in an Olympic Games.
There were only six teams in the LA tournament and the
competition was fierce. Karen constantly found herself playing
against opponents much bigger than her and her team-mates.
However the Australians gave a good account of themselves and
in their last game of the tournament defeated the heavily favoured
Yugoslavia to finish the Olympic Tournament in 5th place.
The 1984 LA Olympics were also special for Karen as her brothers
Mark and Brad were members of the Australian Men’s Basketball
Team at the same Olympics. This was the first time that brothers and
a sister had represented Australia at the Olympics in the one sport.
In 1985 Karen played for the Australian Team when it won the
Gold Medal in the inaugural Australia Games. She then played
on the Australian Team when it defeated New Zealand in the
Oceania Championships later in the year. The same year saw
Karen and the Australian Team tour to Europe for twelve games.
In preparation for the 1986 World Championships the Australian
Team, with Karen as a member, played in the Ivan Galabov
tournament in Bulgaria before moving onto the Soviet Union
for the World Championships. The Australian Team finished the
World Championships in 9th place.
By now Karen was very much a mainstay of the Australian Team.
Her experience, toughness, rebounding and competitive nature
were a staple part of the team ethic.
In 1987 Karen toured with the Australian Team to Europe for
eleven international games and then to the USA and Canada for
seventeen games.
Karen played on the Australian Team that played one game
against Japan and five against Canada in Australia in 1988 before
playing in the Seoul Goodwill Tournament. She was selected
on the Australian Team for the very important 1988 Olympic
Qualification Tournament in Malaysia. Twenty four teams had
entered the tournament and the top six teams would qualify for
the Olympics in Seoul. The Australian Team won the first round
of games with five out of five wins. In the next round it won two
games and qualified for the Seoul Olympic Games.
After a slow start to the Olympic Tournament when the
Australians were thrashed by Korea the team bounced back
Karen Dalton was born on January 2nd 1961 in Sydney, NSW.
As a junior she was a strong swimmer winning State Championships in breaststroke and dominating local pool
events up to the Under 14 level. Karen and her sister Janelle played together in a local netball team and after a few
years Karens father Tom entered their side in the Manly Under 16 basketball competition. Karen represented
the Manly Basketball Association as a junior. She was chosen to represent NSW in 1976 as a member of the
Metropolitan Under 16 Team at the Australian Championships. In 1977 she represented NSW Metro Under
18’s and the next year NSW (combined Country/Metro) Under 18’s at the Australian Championships.
1984, 1988 Olympic Games
6 feet 0 inch (182cm) Forward/Centre
| e Players | Karen Dalton
Karen Dalton
1984,1988
15
Karen Dalton battles for a rebound (Basketball Australia)
Karen Dalton (13) battling against China (Basketball Australia)
for a historic win over the Soviet Union. It was the first loss for
the Soviet Women’s Basketball Team in Olympic competition.
The Australians reached the Semi-Finals where they played
Yugoslavia. They had a dramatic one point loss to Yugoslavia
when a win would have put them into the Gold Medal Game.
The Australian Team lost to the Soviet Union in the playoff for
the Bronze Medal. However the team had taken the Australian
women’s basketball to a memorable and ground breaking 4th
place at the Olympic Games. As a starting five player on the team
Karen had played a major role in their performance and the team
as a whole had made huge inroads into world basketball.
In 1989 Karen was a member of the Australian Team that won
the Oceania Championships, played Japan in five games, and
completed an eleven game tour of the USA.
In 1990 Karen played for the Australian Team in the Seoul
Goodwill Tournament and then finished in 6th place at the 1990
World Championships which were held in Malaysia.
She was a member of the Australian Team that played in the
1990 Goodwill Games. In 1991 she played for Australia in the
seven match series in Australia against the USSR, China, and
Korea and toured with the team to the USA for twelve games.
In 1992 Karen was a member of the Australian Team that played
a series against China and in a game in Italy prior to playing in
the 1992 Olympic Qualification Tournament held in Spain. The
Australian Team played very well in the Qualification Tournament
only to lose their last two games to miss out on qualifying for the
Olympics in Barcelona. It was a bitter disappointment for Karen
and the team.
FIBA the international governing body for basketball
subsequently decided that the Women’s Oceania Championships
would become a qualification tournament for World and Olympic
Championships.
Karen was a member of the Australian Team that won the 1993
Oceania Championships (now called the Oceania World Qualification
Tournament) to qualify for the 1994 World Championships. In 1993
Karen played for Australia in games against the Ukraine, Athletes
in Action and China. In 1994 Karen and the Australian Team (now
called the Opals) played against China, Russia and Bulgaria before
playing in the 1994 Pre-World Championship Tournament OZ94
against Brazil, USA, France and Canada.
Karen’s international career was moving towards its end. She was
selected to play for the Opals in the 1994 World Championships
that were held in Australia. These Championships were a great
occasion for women’s basketball in Australia and the Opals
narrowly missed winning their first medal at World or Olympic
Championships when they finished in 4th place. The 1994 World
Championships were the final time Karen played for Australia as
she retired from international basketball.
Her 1984 Olympic team-mate Kathy Foster says of Karen, “My
room buddy, my daughter Rebecca’s godmother, fellow 500
card champion, co- president of the hopeless foul shooters club,
legend of the game, and a great defender, but unlike me didn’t
shoot the ball enough!”
Karen was a member of the Sydney Flames teams that won the
1993 and 1997 WNBL Championships.
During the 2000/01 WNBL season Karen took over as Coach
of the Sydney Flames and the team went on to win the WNBL
Championships that season.
Karen has been Assistant Coach to the Opals at World
Championships (2002) and Olympic Games (2004). She has acted
in this position in over 50 games for Australia. Karen has also
been an Assistant Coach of Australian Junior Women’s teams at
a World Championship (2003) and at a Women’s World Under 19
Championship (2011).
In her international basketball career Karen played over 250
games for Australia, played in two Olympic Games and four
World Championships, was an Assistant Coach for the Opals in
53 games, and an Assistant Coach for 56 games for Australia at
the Junior level.
Karen Dalton has one of the most enduring careers as an
international player and then coach for Australia women’s
basketball. She continues to “give back to the game” in her
continuing capacity as a coach in the WNBL and in junior
coaching in NSW.
She was the WNBL Coach of the Year in 2001/02 and is a Life
Member of the WNBL. She was inducted into the NSW Hall of
Champions, into the Basketball Australia Hall of Fame in 2007
and into the Basketball NSW Hall of Fame in 2011.
1984, 1988 Olympic Games
6 feet 0 inch (182cm) Forward/Centre
e Players | Karen Dalton |
chapter text here
16
1984
Kathy Foster (Basketball Australia)
1984 Olympic Games
| e Players | Kathy Foster
Kathryn “Kathy” Foster was born May 7th 1960 in Launceston,
Tasmania.
She started playing basketball during her first year of High
School. During the previous year a teacher at New Norfolk
High decided to introduce basketball for the girls and trained a
team, which included Kathy’s sister, to play in the Junior Hobart
Competition. Consequently Kathy was keen to join the Year 7-8
team the teacher formed when Kathy started High School. This
school team from the country was successful over the next four
years moving from the initial lower grades to winning ‘A’ grade in
Kathy’s final year at High School.
During High School basketball was not really Kathy’s main sport.
She had success as a swimmer, winning numerous State Age
titles and breaking State Age Freestyle records. (Years later Kathy
was to learn that as a twelve year old she swam at the same
National Age Championships as Karen Dalton a future team-
mate on the Australian Team).
“During my early teen years my main sporting focus was in the
pool.... especially swimming...... and also playing water polo.
It was during Year 10 where decisions had to be made and it
was about then that I decided to focus on basketball as my main
sport,” says Kathy.
Kathy missed selection for the Tasmanian Under16 Girls’
Basketball Team in her first year but gained selection in the
second year. This latter team travelled to Sale, Victoria and it
was there where for the first time she gained recognition for
her playing abilities. Co-incidentally, Brendan Flynn, who would
later become her Australian Coach, was coaching the SA Under
16’s Girls Team at this same tournament. Kathy credits her local
coaches Peter Norton and Gay Ransley as being major influences
in her early basketball development.
In Sydney two years later at the Under 18 National Championships
Kathy was the leading scorer in the Championships. That same
year she represented Tasmania in the Australian Women’s
Championships in Hobart. She was named in the Australian
Women’s Basketball Squad at the conclusion of the tournament.
She stayed in the Australian Squad for the next three years but
was not named in the final Australian team until 1981. In 1981
at the Australian Women’s National Championship she scored a
record 52 points in one game.
On the back of her performance at the 1981 Australian
Championships she was named in the Australian Women’s Team
to tour China that same year. On this tour the team had mixed
success but Kathy was always a member of the starting five.
This gave her great confidence. From this beginning she was
selected in every Australian team from then until she retired from
international competition in late 1987 when she was pregnant
with her first child, Rachael.
In 1982 Kathy played with the Australian Team on a tour to
Chinese Taipei and in the Oceania Championships which
Australia won.
In 1983 Kathy was named Vice-Captain of the Australian Team.
She played for Australia when it won the Gold Medal at the 1983
Commonwealth Championships held in New Zealand.
A big moment in Kathy’s life occurred when she was selected
as a member of the Australian Team to compete in the 1983
Women’s World Basketball Championships in Brazil. Not only
was this an opportunity for her and the team to compete against
the best in the world, it was an adventure to the other side of the
world. In the World Championships that were held in Sao Paulo,
Brazil the Australian Team finished in 11th place.
After a tour to China in 1984 with the National Team, Kathy was
selected to play for Australia at the 1984 Olympic Qualification
tournament in Cuba. The team and Kathy played very well but
lost a couple of games in dramatic circumstances (one on a
“prayer shot” from near half-way) and failed to qualify for the
1984 LA Olympics.
Not long after arriving back home in Australia Kathy and the team
were told that they were going to the LA Olympics as a number
of Soviet countries and Cuba had boycotted the Olympic Games.
Kathy thereby became a member of Australia’s first Women’s
Olympic Basketball Team.
It was a very cold morning at New Norfolk High School in Tasmania and the young female teacher was
teaching quadratic equations to her Year 10 Maths class when there was a knock at the door. A fellow teacher
informed her that she had an urgent phone call and that he would look after her class while she took the call.
e young teacher hurried to take the call imagining all sorts of disasters (who had been in an accident or
taken to hospital?). She was very surprised then to hear Bob Staunton from Basketball Australia on the phone.
Bob was very excited. It took him some time to say that he was ringing to inform the teacher that Cuba had
decided to join the Russian boycott of the 1984 LA Olympics Games. is meant that the Australian Womens
Basketball Team and Kathy Foster were off to the 1984 Olympics Games!
5 feet 11 inch (180cm) Forward
Kathy Foster
17
1984
Kathy Foster (14) in the WNBL (Courtesy K. Foster)
Kathy Foster watching a game at the 1984 Olympic Games
(B. Marshall)
Kathy Foster (11) in action against Yugoslavia at the 1984
Olympic Games (K. Foster/Basketball Australia)
1984 Olympic Games
e Players | Kathy Foster |
At the 1984 LA Olympics Kathy and her team-mates battled in
each game against players who were much taller, bigger and
more experienced. Australia caused a huge upset in its last game
when it defeated Yugoslavia and attained 5th place (out of 6
teams). It was a marvellous effort.
In 1985 Kathy played on the Australia Team that won the Gold
Medal in the inaugural Australia Games held in Melbourne. She
was a member of the Australian Team that won the 1985 Oceania
Championships in New Zealand and played for Australia on its
twelve match tour of Europe.
In 1986 Kathy and the Australian Team went to the World
Championships in Russia where they gained 9th place. It was a
step down from their 5th place at the 1984 Olympics but they were
learning and gaining confidence. A side-note to the Russian trip
was that just prior to the World Championships the Chernobyl
nuclear reactor had exploded and the team had to be particularly
careful about what they drank and ate while at the Championships.
Kathy’s international career concluded in 1987 when she played
with the Australian Team on an eleven match tour of Europe.
From 1981 to 1984 (inclusive) Kathy was the only member of the Australian
Women’s Team not playing in the fledging Women’s Basketball League
(WNBL) as Tasmania did not have a team in the WNBL.
In late 1983 and during 1984 she was given permission to train
and play with her husband, Phil’s A Grade mens team in the main
Hobart competition. At the time this was quite a unique situation.
Doing this allowed her to play in a strong local men’s competition
and to improve her skills whilst remaining in Hobart. During this
time she also played in the local womens competition as well as
playing for Hobart in the National Club Championships each year,
and for a couple of years in the second tier WNBL Conference.
Kathy who was only 5ft 11 inches (180cms) tall was nevertheless
one of the best rebounders in Australia. Her days of competitive
swimming had given her the upper-body and lower leg strength
to compete against much bigger opponents. She had also
developed a strong jump-shot from above her head (few women
were able to do this effectively as the ball was at that time the
same size ball as used by the men) and she was very hard to
defend. These skills coupled with her highly competitive streak
and toughness, honed by playing with and against men, made
her a key player for the Australian Women’s Team.
After the 1984 Olympics, Kathy and Phil decided to move to
Adelaide to enable her to play in the WNBL. She had a very
successful year playing with the North Adelaide Club under
Coach Kay MacFarlane.
During that year she was the MVP in the WNBL and also the
Halls Medal for the Best and Fairest Female Player in South
Australia. At the end of 1985, Hobart was given the opportunity
to play in the WNBL so Kathy returned home to Hobart. She
played for the Hobart team in the WNBL for the next two years.
She won the MVP award for the WNBL in 1986 and the Top
Shooter Award in 1987.
Kathy was a certain selection for the Australian Team for the
1988 Seoul Olympics. However she fell pregnant in late 1987 and
had to make herself unavailable for selection.
In 1988 her first daughter Rachael was born. Kathy recalls. “It
was difficult being home with a new baby whilst the girls were
playing so well at the Seoul Olympics.” The Australian Team went
on to gain a historic 4th position at the 1988 Games.
Kathy returned to the WNBL in 1989 for perhaps her most
successful year in the competition. Hobart had recruited very
well under Coach Danny Adamson who Kathy says, “I would
have run through a brick wall for. The team went from not
winning a single game in 1988 to making the 1989 WNBL Grand
Final. It was Hobart’s first appearance in a WNBL Grand Final.
Prior to the Grand Final Kathy and the Hobart Islanders played
in the WNBL Final where due to a pilots strike the team had to
fly in a Hercules aircraft from Hobart to Melbourne and then
travel by bus to Adelaide. They won the Final. Despite a record 29
points in the Grand-Final from Kathy the Islanders lost to a very
experienced Nunawading Spectres team.
After the Grand Final, Kathy was named (for the third time) MVP
for the WNBL, top scorer and a member of the All Star Five.
The next year Kathy and the Islanders were again Grand Finalists
in the WNBL and lost to the North Adelaide Rockets. Kathy was
18 weeks pregnant at the time and recalls, “I probably shouldn’t
have played in that game.
Kathy had a year off from the WNBL to have her second daughter
Rebecca and after playing again in 1992 decided that her
motivation was no longer there and retired from basketball at the
end of the season.
Australian Team team-mate Trish Cockrem comments on Kathy. “I
loved the work ethic of Kathy Foster and I admired that she didn’t
come from the hub of basketball and yet she was such a great
player.” Team mate Bronwyn Marshall adds, “Kathy Foster was
the person who I most wished to emulate.
Kathy Foster arguably remains one of the greatest basketball
players to have come out of Tasmania. Her performances in the
WNBL were outstanding. The fact that she was able to perform
at such a high level after initially being unable to play in the
WNBL competition testifies to her determination and talent. She
took that talent and drive to two World Championships and one
Olympic Games. She was a truly remarkable athlete and player.
In 2000 Kathy carried the Olympic Torch as part of the Sydney
2000 Olympic Games Torch Relay.
5 feet 11 inch (180cm) Forward
chapter text here
18
Sue Geh (Basketball Australia)
1984
1984 Olympic Games
Susanna “Sue” Monika Geh was born September 10th 1959
in Canberra, ACT. She began her education at Forrest Primary
School and then went to Deakin High School for four years
followed by a year at Phillip College in 1976.
Her basketball began on the outdoor courts at Woden YMCA in
the Under 14 Girls team.
Coach Joe Cosgrove spotted Sues older sister Gaby, who was at
that time 6 feet 4 inches (196cms) in height and eligible for the
under 14’s and asked Gaby if she knew any other tall players.
Gaby pointed out her nine year old sister Sue who was very tall
for her age, and Sue was subsequently recruited.
In 1976 Sue began work for the Department of Defence and that
was her first year in the ACT Senior Women’s basketball team.
In 1980 Sue was awarded a scholarship to the University of
Alabama in Birmingham USA. However after her medical
examination it was discovered that she had a slight heart
murmur. Although Sue was prepared to sign a medical risk
waiver the University made the decision not to continue with
the scholarship and Sue returned to Canberra to play with the
Weston Creek Woden Basketball Club.
However her potential and ability was recognised by the
Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) coaches and Sue was awarded
a scholarship to the AIS in 1983. At the AIS she was under the
coaching of Australian Women’s Team Coach Brendan Flynn
and his Assistant Coach the Australian team Captain Jenny
Cheesman. It was soon evident to Flynn that Sue might play a
role in the Australian National Team which had few players over
6 feet tall. Sue was now 6 feet nine inches (205cms) in height
and a real force in the keyhole, particularly as a shot blocker. Her
stamina, strength, awareness of the game and her own strengths
were improving rapidly.
Sue was selected to the 1984 Australian Women’s Basketball
Team for the 1984 Olympic Qualification Tournament in Cuba. She
showed in that tournament that she had a significant role to play
for the team against the very tall teams from around the world.
The Australian Team did not qualify through the tournament for
the 1984 Olympic Games. After returning home they were told
that they would be going to the Games as some Soviet nations
were boycotting the Olympics. After just one tournament with
the national team Sue now found herself as a member of the first
Australian Women’s Olympic Basketball Team.
During the 1984 Olympics Sue had one of those defining games
for which she will always be remembered. The Aussies had not
won a game in the tournament (which consisted of six teams at
that time) but in their final game for 5th-6th position they played
the immensely talented and very tall Yugoslavian team. This was
the moment for Sue to show her abilities against players of her
own height and she did not let anyone down with 10 points, 4
assists, 3 blocked shots and 3 rebounds.
The statistics do not tell the real story however as it was Sue’s
early blocks of the Yugoslavian players that changed the tone
of the game as the opposition became “gun-shy” around the
basket because of Sue’s shot blocking, and the psychology of
the game changed. The Australians went on to a historic 62-59
victory, their first ever Olympic win and a highly commendable
5th in the world.
Later in 1984 Sue was a member of the National Team that
played seven games in the Beijing International Tournament.
The year after the Olympics, 1985, Sue joined the Canberra Capitals
who were then playing in the Women’s Basketball Conference,
the Second Division of the Womens National Basketball League
(WNBL). Alongside her good friend Jenny Cheesman, Sue and
the Capitals won 17 games and had no losses on the season and
won the WBC final defeating Dandenong 61-59.
In 1985 Sue played for the Australian Women’s Team that won
the Gold Medal in the inaugural Australia Games. She also
played for Australia in the Oceania Championships which they
won. Later in the year Sue toured to Europe with the Australian
Team on a twelve match tour.
Sue played for Australia in the 1986 World Championships held
in the Soviet Union. The Australians finished the tournament in
9th position. They were disappointed with this result after their
achievements in the 1984 LA Olympics.
6 feet 9 inches (205cm) Centre
e Australian Womens Basketball Team was playing in their first Olympics Games in Los Angeles in 1984.
ey were playing their last game of the tournament and had not won a game. eir opponents Yugoslavia
were very big, experienced and aggressive. e Australians were a “short” but gutsy side. e Yugoslavians were
on top in the game until Coach Brendan Flynn injected the Aussies one tall player Sue Geh into the game. In
moments the whole momentum of the game changed as the six feet nine inch Sue blocked shots, took rebounds
and intimidated the Yugoslavians. e rest of the Australian Team lifted in confidence and went on to record
the first win by an Australian Womens Team at Olympic competition.
| e Players | Sue Geh
Sue Geh
19
1984
1984 Olympic Games
e Players | Sue Geh |
Sue’s last appearance for Australia was in 1987 when she toured
with the team on an eleven match tour of Europe.
For the next two years Sue played with the Canberra Capitals who
were promoted to the first division of the WNBL and in 1987 she
helped take the Capitals to a very creditable 16 wins 8 losses record.
At the end of 1987 Sue retired due to a knee injury from
representative basketball. She did however continue to play
Club basketball for Weston Creek Woden (up to 1990) and some
Master’s basketball with the “Flashbacks” and played in the 1997
Australian Masters Games where the team won a Bronze Medal.
Sue also served for a period as assistant coach for the Canberra
Capitals in the WNBL.
Her Canberra Capitals Coach Jerry Lee described Sue as, A
woman of outstanding character, on and off the court....she
never berated other players, she used what she had well, she
shot a good percentage, was a very good defensive player and
played her games, always, with decorum”.
Sue Geh passed away in 1998 six weeks after undergoing heart
surgery. She was 39 years of age. “Sue Geh Circuit” in Nicholls,
ACT is named in her honour. ACT basketball school girls play for
the Sue Geh Cup named in her honour.
Canberra Times journalist Gary Scholes described Sue. “Her
towering frame, her kind and gentle nature and infectious smile
will be fondly remembered by all those who knew her.”
6 feet 9 inches (205cm) Centre
Sue Geh (15) shooting against Canada in the 1984 Olympic Games (Basketball Australia)
chapter text here
20
1984
| e Players | Wendy Laidlaw (nee Anderson)
Wendy Anderson was born on February 19th, 1959 in Sydney,
NSW. Her father David was an Australian Oarsman in the 1952
Helsinki and 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
Wendy’s first sport was netball where she excelled and soon
became an Illawarra representative. It was at one of her
representative netball games that she was spotted by Enid
Penrose the wife of Illawarra Men’s Basketball Coach Tom
Penrose. Enid got Wendy involved in basketball. “Needless
to say I was soon hooked on basketball,recalls Wendy. She
particularly loved the fact that in basketball a player could do
everything and not be confined to a section of the court.
Eventually she had to make a decision between basketball and
netball. “No contest” says Wendy “basketball won!”
Wendy cites Carolyn Hurley (under 14’s) and Jeanette
Stutchbury (under 16’s) her early coaches as having a large
influence on her basketball development.
Wendy enjoyed representing Illawarra and travelling to all
parts of the State and playing in tournaments and her abilities
were recognised when she was selected in the under 16
Girls State side in 1973. In that year Wendy played for NSW
when they defeated Victoria in the final to win the Australian
Championships. The next year, 1974, with Wendy as captain
the NSW Under 16 girl’s team also won the Australian
Championships when they defeated Queensland in the final.
Wendy captained NSW at the Under 18 Australian Women’s
Championships in 1975 when they lost the final to Victoria
in Canberra. In the following year (1976) Wendy captained
the NSW Under 18 Women’s Team that finished third in the
Australian Under 18 Womens Championships.
Wendy was first chosen for the Australian Women’s Basketball
Team as a nineteen year old for the tour to Europe and China in
1978. In 1981 she played for the Australian Team on a tour to
China and in 1982 she played for Australia on a tour to Chinese
Taipei and China.
Wendy had been representing Illawarra as a senior player
whilst still a junior but in 1981 made the move to Sutherland so
she would be playing in the Women’s National League (WNBL)
as Illawarra did not have a team in the League. Trevor Cook a
renowned coach was at Sutherland and guided her career from
that time. Trevor had also coached Wendy in the NSW Junior
Teams. Wendy was selected for the NSW Women’s Basketball
Team and was a member of a number of NSW’s touring sides
to the USA and Europe.
Wendy was chosen on the Australian Team for the 1983 World
Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The World Championships
were a tremendous experience for Wendy as she was able to
put her skills and talents against the best players in the world.
Her personal highlight for the tournament was scoring 14
points against Yugoslavia. The Australian Team gained 11th
place in the Championships.
This result disappointed the team, but it gave them the added
drive to qualify for the 1984 Olympics as they knew they were
not that far off being equal to many other teams with similar
ambitions to play at the Olympic Games.
At 5 feet 9 inches in height Wendy was not a tall player but
her strength and jumping ability made her a very effective
rebounder. She had a powerful and accurate jump-shot and
was a tough defender. Her jump-shot was from above her head
(which was unusual for women at this time using the same
size ball as used by the men) and it was difficult to defend.
Very competitive with a strong will to win, Wendy was a much
valued member of the National Team. Team-mate Kathy Foster
describes Wendy. “My first room buddy....an awesome shooter
but more importantly a great team player and friend.
In 1984 Wendy was chosen to play for the Australia at the Beijing
International Tournament. This Tournament was part of the team’s
preparation for the 1984 Olympic Qualification Tournament.
The 1984 LA Olympic Qualification Tournament held in Cuba prior
to the Olympic Games was the next hurdle for Wendy and the
Australian Team. The team played well but unfortunately they
lost two very close games and failed to qualify for the Olympic
Games in Los Angeles.
1984 Olympic Games
5 feet 9 inch (175cm) Forward/Guard
Wendy Laidlaw shooting at the 1984 Pre-Olympics
(Basketball Australia)
Wendy Laidlaw stood in the centre of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Village on the University of Southern
California campus and looked at everything around her. Her thoughts were on the Village, the security, the
other athletes from all over the world, and trying to take it all in. Her thoughts then wandered back to her
beloved home town of Wollongong and to her father David. “Well dad,” she thought to herself, “I am here.
Now I know something of what you felt back in Helsinki and Melbourne. I always wanted to match you and
become an Olympian and here I am.” (Wendy’s dad David won a Bronze Medal in rowing at the 1954 Helsinki
Olympics, rowed at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, and won a Gold and a Bronze Medal at the 1954 Empire
Games).
Wendy Laidlaw (nee Anderson)
21
Wendy doing a lay-up in practice in Wollongong
(Courtesy Wollongong Mercury)
1984
e Players | Wendy Laidlaw (nee Anderson) |
Wendy and the team returned home very disappointed.
However, a subsequent boycott by some of the Soviet Bloc
countries saw the Australian Women’s Team being granted
the last spot in the 1984 LA Olympic Games Tournament. The
players and Wendy were off to the Games and were therefore
the first Australian Women’s Basketball Team to compete at an
Olympic Games.
Wendy recalls. “The LA Games were a dream that had come true
for me as my father was a dual Olympian and my aim was to
emulate him by being an Olympian. The Opening Ceremony, the
security, life in the Village and the basketball games will remain
in my memory forever as will the fact that I was a member of
the first Australian Women’s Olympic Basketball Team.
The Australian Team played tough team basketball at the
Games. They were however small compared to the giants on
each of the other teams and despite their efforts and teamwork
they could not notch a win....that is until their last game. In the
last game against the powerful Yugoslavian team they were
long-odds to win...but they did and secured the first win by an
Australian Women’s Team at an Olympic competition. In doing
so they secured 5th place in the tournament. Wendy played
and scored in every game that the team played.
Wendy retired from representative basketball after the 1984
Olympic Games. She was 27 years of age. In her career she
had played 39 games for Australia and played at a World
Championship and an Olympic Games.
She had already been coaching Illawarra girls and senior
representative teams so it was no surprise when she continued
to coach basketball. In 1985 she coached the NSW Under 20
Women’s Team at the Australian Championships and in 1986
was Assistant Coach on the Australian Junior Women’s Team
tour to China.
She continued to coach the Illawarra “Kittyhawks” in the ABA
until 1993 and was Women’s Coach and then Co-ordinator of
the Illawarra Academy of Sport Basketball Program for many
years.
From 2001 to 2011 she co-ordinated and coached a development
program for Illawarra Basketball Association for seven year olds
through to teenagers.
Wendy Laidlaw not only emulated her father by becoming an
Olympian she also contributed immensely to her chosen sport.
She set an example for the young girls of the Illawarra to follow
in her footsteps and become an Olympian. She continues to
strive for those young players today.
1984 Olympic Games
5 feet 9 inch (175cm) Forward/Guard
chapter text here
22
1984,1988,1996
| e Players | Robyn Maher (nee Gull)
Robyn Maher remembers. “This was the most devastating
moment of my career. I can still see this shot disappearing into
the basket.
However the story did have a happy ending when Basketball
Australia CEO Bob Staunton called Robyn and told her that some
Soviet nations were boycotting the Olympics and the Australian
Team would be going to the 1984 LA Olympics after all.
“This moment I think is the most memorable and proud moment
of my career, even more than winning the first ever medal for
Australia. We went to the Olympics for our first ever Olympic
journey and the Australian Womens Team has never looked
back...........a pioneering moment and one that I was proud to be
part of,” concludes Robyn.
Robyn Maher (nee Gull) was born on October 6th 1959 in Ballarat,
Victoria. When she was at primary school the Ballarat Basketball
Association Stadium had just been built and to raise teams for
the Association a teacher recruited the school netball team and
entered them into the basketball competition. Robyn was now a
basketball player. She was in grade 6 at the time.
In her early junior coaching Robyn credits Dawn Jose, Pam
Mann and Pam’s husband Ken as being major influences. Ken
in particular recognised Robyn’s potential and coached her
individually before school.
Robyn played for the Ballarat Association representative teams
from Under 12’s through to Under 18’s. At that time there were
no Victorian Country representative teams. As a result Robyn did
not get the opportunity to play for Victoria until her last year in
Under 16’s.
The next year 1975 she played on the Under 18 State side which
won the Australian Championships. In the following year she
played for the first Under 18 Victorian Country team to play at the
National Championships.
As Robyn was playing each Wednesday night with Ballarat in the
Victorian Championships in Melbourne she was being exposed
to a high calibre basketball and was being seen by the State’s
top coaches. As a result she was recruited by Dandenong to play
in the Victorian Championships before she made the move to
the “Telstars” Club coached by then Australian Women’s Team
Assistant Coach Ray Tomlinson. The “Telstar” team Assistant
Coach was Tom Maher. At “Telstars” Robyn not only received
excellent coaching but was able to train and play with stars such
as Sharon Deacon.
Robyn’s first taste of international basketball occurred in 1978
when she was selected on the Australian Women’s Basketball
Team to tour China and then Europe. Robyn comments, “The
tour to China and Europe was a great learning experience for
me, not only from a basketball point of view but also as a life
experience. The seeds of being with team-mates, facing world
class opposition and being in foreign countries made me more
determined than ever to be successful in my sport.
In 1979 Robyn played at her first World Championships when
the Australian Team came 4th in the World Championships held
in Korea. This was a tremendous result for Australian basketball
and clearly started Australia on the road to success on the world
stage of women’s basketball.
In 1980 she was a member of the Australian Women’s Team that
played in the Moscow Olympic Games Qualification Tournament
held in Bulgaria. Unfortunately, although they played well, the
Australians failed to qualify for the Olympic Tournament in
Moscow. The draw was a most unfair system and the Australian
Teams pool made their qualification very difficult.
In 1981 Robyn was selected on the Australian Women’s Team
to tour to China.
In 1982 Robyn played for Australia when it won the Oceania
Championships. She also played for Australia in a tournament
in Chinese Taipei.
Robyn’s next international experience was with the Australian
Team in the 1983 World Championships held in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The team secured 11th place. The result was a disappointment
for the team but they had learnt a lot against the best in the
world.
Robyn Maher in the WNBL (Basketball Australia)
1984, 1988, 1996 Olympic Games
5 feet 10 inch (178cm) Forward
e Australian Womens basketball team was at the 1984 pre-Olympic Tournament in Cuba and were playing
Cuba for the right to go to the Olympics. With six minutes to go in the game the Australians were six points
up and all of a sudden the stadium started to chant, applaud and clap.....but the Australians had the ball? It
was a weird feeling for the Aussies. Was the Cuban crowd now supporting Australia? At this point the game
was stopped by the referees as the court became full of papers thrown from the crowd in applause of who had
arrived at the game. Fidel Castro had made an appearance for the last couple of minutes in support of the team
representing Cuba for the LA Olympics. Such was the effect that the Aussies soon found themselves one point
up with six second to play. A centre line “hail Mary” shot from a Cuban delivered a winning basket to see the
Australian Womens Team Olympic dream of going to the 1984 LA Olympics dwindle from existence.
Robyn Maher (nee Gull)
23
e Players | Robyn Maher (nee Gull) |
1984,1988,1996
In that same year Robyn played on the Australian Team that won
the first ever Commonwealth Basketball Championships which
were held in New Zealand.
The next year 1984 was a challenge as the Australian Team
attempted to be the first Australian Olympic Women’s Basketball
Team. The team toured to China for seven games and then
travelled to the 1984 Olympic Qualification Tournament which
was held in Cuba.
The Australians played very well in Cuba and had some close
games (such as the game against Cuba) but failed to qualify.
Robyn returned home with her Olympic dream shattered. Then
some of the Soviet countries boycotted the LA Olympics and the
Australian Women’s Team were now in the 1984 Olympic Games.
Robyn and the team played very well in the six teams 1984 LA
Olympic Games Basketball Tournament. In their very last game
Australia defeated world power Yugoslavia to obtain fifth place
in the world. In doing so they became Australia’s first Women’s
Basketball Team to win a game in an Olympic tournament. Robyn
played in every game with her highest score of 13 points in the
game against Yugoslavia.
The inaugural Australian Games were played in Melbourne in 1985
and Robyn was a member of the Australian Women’s Team that
won the Gold Medal. Australia then went on to win the Oceania
Championships before heading to Europe for a twelve match tour.
In 1986 Robyn was a member of National Womens Team
to tour Europe. Robyn was then selected for her third World
Championships when she played for the Australian Team in
the1986 World Championships held in the Soviet Union. The
Australian Team finished in 9th position.
Robyn played for the Australian Team that toured to Europe in
1987 for eleven games, and then to the USA and Canada for
seventeen games.
The National Team with Robyn as a member continued its 1988
Olympic campaign with a match against Japan, five matches in
Australia against Canada and in the Seoul Goodwill Tournament
before heading to Malaysia for the 1988 Olympic Qualification
Tournament.
Only six teams from Olympic Qualification Tournament would
compete in Seoul as the Olympic tournament was now for
twelve teams as against only six teams in the LA Olympics. The
Australians finished 6th in Malaysia and thereby gained the last
place available in the Olympic Tournament.
In the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul the Australian Team
recovered from a poor start when they were heavily beaten by
the hosts Korea, but then went on to inflict defeat on the Soviet
Union who to this time had never lost a game in the Olympics.
The Australians created Australian basketball history when they
qualified for the semi-finals.
1984, 1988, 1996 Olympic Games
5 feet 10 inch (178cm) Forward
Robyn Maher (4) in action against Korea
(Basketball Australia)
24
Robyn Maher (nee Gull)
1984,1988,1996
Robyn was a major force in this drive to the semi-finals as her
defence, offense, steals, rebounding and sheer determination
were leading and inspiring the team. In the crucial game against
the Soviet Union Robyn top scored with 20 points, led the teams
in rebounds, steals and assists as well as playing dynamic
defence. She was at the top of her game.
Unfortunately the Australians lost on the buzzer to Yugoslavia in
the Semi Final where the winner went to the Gold Medal game.
In the Bronze Medal game Australia was defeated by the Soviet
Union. The Australian Team, behind Robyn’s drive and play, were
now given the world wide respect they deserved and sowed the
seed for the great performances of the Women’s National Teams
for the next twenty years.
In 1989 Robyn captained Australia against Japan in Australia.
In 1990 she was a member of the Australian Team on an eleven
match tour of Europe and in the Seoul Goodwill Tournament. She
was then selected on the Australian Team to play in 1990 World
Championships held in Malaysia. The Australians finished a very
meritorious 5th in the World Championships. In doing so Robyn
and the team had confirmed that the result in Seoul was no fluke.
In 1990 Robyn also played for Australia in the Goodwill Games
in Seattle.
She captained the team again in the series in Australia with
the USSR, China and Korea. Later that year Robyn was on the
Australian Team that undertook a twelve match tour to the USA.
By this stage Robyn was the permanent Captain of the team.
The 1992 Barcelona Olympics were the target the next year. The
National Team played China in a six match series and then played
Italy on the way to the 1992 Olympic Qualification Tournament
in Spain.
Unfortunately for Robyn Olympic and team glory would have to
wait for four more years as the Australian Team failed to qualify
for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. They played very well but lost
a game in overtime to Brazil before losing their last game and
thereby failing to qualify for the Olympic Games on percentages.
A series against China and Russia in Australia in1993 was the
only international basketball for Robyn and the Australian Team
that year.
Australia had been awarded the 1994 Women’s World Basketball
Championships so preparation for the Australian Team and
Robyn was a key that year. Robyn led the Australian Team (now
called the “Opals”) in a three game series against Japan, in five
games against Russia and three games against Bulgaria before
playing in the Pre-Oz94 Games (Australia, Brazil, France, Canada,
and the USA).
In the World Championships with Robyn as Captain the Opals
were very close to winning their first ever medal at Olympic or
World Championships but finished an agonizing 4th in front of
their home fans. Again Robyn was a mainstay of the team.
Later that year (1994) she led the Opals on a six match tour to
China. In 1995 she led Australia against Korea (five games) and in
the Oceania 1996 Olympic Qualification Tournament which they
won. Robyn finished a very busy year with five games with the
Opals against China in the Goldmark Cup and a six game tour to
Europe.
In 1996 Robyn led the Opals in six games in the World Challenge
held in Australia and then in two Pre-Olympic Tournaments
(Canada and the USA) before arriving in Atlanta for the 1996
Olympics.
In the 1996 Atlanta Olympics the Opals led by Robyn played
brilliantly to win Australias first ever Olympic medal when they
won the Bronze Medal. The “medal bubble had been burst” for
all Opals teams to follow.
The question now for Robyn was whether she could make the
team to play in the Sydney 2000 Olympics four years away. She
would be 41 by those Olympics. There is no doubt that her spirit,
determination and passion would get her there, but would she
hold up to the physical challenges?
In 1997 Robyn led the Opals against Japan, Russia, to win the
Oceania World Championships Qualification Tournament, in the
USA Invitation Tournament and the V1 Golden Cup (Brazil) to
round out the year.
She was determined to get to another World Championships (her
6th) and 1998 played for the Opals against Brazil, Japan, on a
tour to Slovakia and Portugal and was selected to lead the Opals
in the 1998 World Championships in Germany.
Again the Opals performed magnificently and won their first
medal (Bronze) at a World Championships and demonstrated
that their Bronze in the Olympics was no “flash in the pan.
Sydney 2000 was near, and yet so far for Robyn. In 1998 she
played for Australia in the Maher Cup (named after her and
her husband Tom the Opals Coach) against China, then in
the Goldmark Cup versus the USA. In 1999 she played for the
Australian Team in another Maher Cup, this time against Cuba.
The Maher Cup in 1999 was Robyn’s last game for the Opals.
Sydney 2000 was just that bit too far away.
She was able to retire from International Competition with
Bronze Medals at an Olympics and World Championships.
Robyn had played in six World Championships and three
Olympics. If the Opals had qualified for Moscow and Barcelona
she may have had five Olympic rings to her credit. She also
played in seven Oceania Championships.
When Robyn retired she had played for Australia for an
incredible twenty years. She was named the Basketball Australia
“International Player of the Year” in 1988, 1990 and in 1991. She
had played 374 games for Australia and had captained the team
in 174 games.
Although she was only 5 feet 10 inches (179cms) in height,
Robyn played well above her size. She was a ferocious rebounder
and drove to the basketball, especially along the baseline, with
great courage and determination and was a tenacious defender.
Her leadership was second to none and she inspired team after
team at the international and WNBL level.
Olympian Julie Nykiel says of Robyn. “She was the toughest
and most dedicated player I have ever seen, and it was fitting
that she was Captain when Australia won its first medal
(Bronze) at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.....a just reward for
a world class player”
| e Players | Robyn Maher (nee Gull)
25
1984,1988,1996
Fellow Olympian Kristi Harrower comments. “Robyn Maher was
one of the toughest players I have ever played with and against.
While Robyn was inspiring Australian womens basketball at
the international level she established a fabulous record in the
Australian Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL). She
won ten WNBL titles (Nunawading 6, Hobart 1, Perth 1, Sydney
2) including leading the Nunawading Spectres to six titles in
seven years. She played in 13 WNBL Grand Finals and played
369 games in the WNBL. She finished her WNBL career as the
all time leader in steals (614), second in assists (1,044), third in
points scored (4,517) and won the WNBL MVP Award in 1983
and 1987. In 1999 the WNBL Defensive Player of the Year Award
was named in her honour.
After she retired from playing Robyn continued her love affair
with basketball and continued to coach and work in Association
basketball as well as travelling the world with her husband
Tom who has coached women’s Olympic basketball teams from
Australia (1996, 2000), New Zealand (2004), China (2008) and
Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics.
There is no doubt that Robyn Maher has been one of the greatest
Australian women basketball players of her era and perhaps of
all time.
Robyn Maher was inducted into the Basketball Australia Hall of
Fame in 2004.
e Players | Robyn Maher (nee Gull) |
Robyn Maher retires from international basketball
(Basketball Australia)
chapter text here
26
1984
| e Players | Bronwyn Marshall
e Australian Institute of Sport had been open for one year when Bronwyn Marshall travelled to Canberra and
as she says, “laid eyes on the place that would change my life.” She could not believe that these amazing facilities
and coaches were here so that she could train and play basketball as much as she liked. “How much better could
it get than doing the one thing you were passionate about all day?” she asks. e AIS, although in its infancy,
would provide Bronwyn with opportunities that she had never imagined.
Bronwyn Marshall was born on the 31st of December, 1963 in
Mackay, Queensland. Born into a family of five brothers, meant
that she was physically active from an early age, participating
in athletics, softball and netball at school and district level. A
chance comment by her maths teacher, when she was fifteen
about her height being good for basketball was the start of her
lifelong love of the sport. She started playing interschool and
Club competition in the under 18 age group and progressed
quickly to playing A Grade in Rockhampton.
Within a year of first playing basketball Bronwyn was the
MVP in U18s and A Grade in Rockhampton, made the Central
Queensland team, played at the State Championships and had
been named a reserve for the State U18 team.
Within three years she was a starter with the State U20 team,
had moved to Brisbane and was awarded a scholarship at the
Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in 1982. Bronwyn credits Jill
and Wally Lewis and Pam Hamilton-Smith with her early career.
Jill and Wally Lewis and Pam Hamilton-Smith epitomise why
sport in this country is so good. They have been the backbone
of the Lang Park basketball Club in Brisbane for as long as I can
remember. They oversaw the Club going from a single court with
an unsealed floor and low ceiling to a state-of-the-art training
venue that forms part of the Suncorp Stadium. They also looked
after to me when I first moved to Brisbane... which I have never
forgotten,” says Bronwyn.
“The AIS was a turning point for me,” Bronwyn recalls, “Not only
for my basketball but for my life. The AIS was only in its second
year of operation. Athletes and coaches from all sports and the
AIS staff all knew each other. It was a very close knit community
that forged many lifelong friendships and working relationships.
Bronwyn toured Japan and Korea early in 1982 with the AIS,
an event which opened her eyes not only to the fierceness of
international competition but also to what was out in the world
for her to discover. Adrian Hurley was my first coach at the AIS
and he continues to be one of the most respected people in my
life. He had just the right attitude for a bunch of rowdy eighteen
year old women. We all loved him as a surrogate father figure,”
says Bronwyn.
The AIS competed against College teams in the USA later
that year. This was also the year that Bronwyn burst onto the
Australian scene, playing with the AIS in the Women’s National
League (WNBL) and being named in the Australian Senior
Women’s Squad after Queensland came second in the Australian
U20 Women’s Championships.
Bronwyn was selected to the Australian Women’s Team as a
reserve for a series of games against New Zealand. Training
with the Australian Squad and watching the team play set her
determination to wear the Green and Gold.
In 1983 she got her chance and was named in the Australian
Women’s Team which competed in the World Championships in
Brazil. Australia finished in 11th place. Playing at this standard,
made Bronwyn realise that making an Australian team was only
half the battle. “The athleticism, fitness and skill of players from
other countries made me realise how much more work was
required,” she says. She also toured with the AIS to New Zealand
and Europe that year.
In 1984 Bronwyn returned to Brisbane to play in the WNBL
and after playing in the Beijing International Tournament with
Australia she was selected to the Australian Team to compete at
the 1984 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Cuba.
The Australian Women’s Team played great basketball in Cuba
and were desperately unlucky to not qualify for the Olympics.
“One memorable experience for me from the trip to Cuba was
seeing Fidel Castro at one of the games and being amazed at the
rock star reception he received from the crowd,” recalls Bronwyn.
In the game against Cuba a Cuban player sank a “hail Mary” shot
from half-way to defeat the Aussies. Australia failed to qualify for
the Olympic Tournament in Los Angeles.
The bitter disappointment for Bronwyn and the team at not
qualifying was overcome when some Soviet Bloc teams and
Cuba boycotted the Olympic Games and Australia replaced them.
The National Womens Team had returned to Australia before
they were told the good news. “It was a dream that had been so
1984 Olympic Games
6 feet 0 inch (183cm) Forward
Bronwyn shooting for the basket in practice
(Courtesy B. Marshall)
Bronwyn Marshall
27
1984
e Players | Bronwyn Marshall |
unimaginable that I hadn’t even dreamt it before going to Cuba,
says Bronwyn.
The Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984 was to be another
watershed moment in Bronwyn’s life. She says, “Only another
Olympian can comprehend what is was like to walk into the
Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony. Words such as
pride, elation, anticipation and satisfaction do not do justice to
the experience.
Australia played very well in LA but the size and experience of
the opposition was very telling until the last game when the
team caused a huge upset to defeat Yugoslavia. The team did
themselves and Australia proud and gained fifth place out of the
sixth teams in the tournament.
Bronwyn returned from LA and was more and more determined
to move up the ranks in basketball. In the WNBL she consolidated
her game and was named in the All Star Five on two occasions.
“Kathy Foster was the person who I most wished to emulate. We
played the same position and I was always trying to learn from
her and ultimately get her first five spot on the Australian Team.
We roomed together quite often and her generosity of spirit
which made her such a selfless player became quite evident in
her personality. She really took me under her wing even when
I was trying to get the better of her, which didn’t happen very
often,” says Bronwyn.
The World Championships were held in Russia in 1986 and
Bronwyn was selected to the Australian Team that came in 9th
position. Bronwyn was now pushing for a spot in the starting five
of the Australian Team and was looking forward to the challenge
of playing at another Olympics, this time in a more senior role.
Unfortunately, Bronwyn was not to have that opportunity as she
had a shoulder reconstruction in 1988 and missed out on her
chance to play at another Olympic Games (Seoul, Korea)
In 1989-90 she played professionally in Switzerland, being one
of the first Australian women to play professionally in Europe.
Upon her return Bronwyn retired from the WNBL at the age of
26 to take up other opportunities in her life. She did continue to
play at Queensland State League level winning the MVP award
and being named in the All Star Five every year that she played.
In 1993 she returned to Canberra as an AIS scholarship Coach
with the women’s program. She then coached Brisbane in the
WNBL for three years before turning to sports administration.
Over the next thirteen years Bronwyn worked in a number of
roles for a variety of sports, both in Australia and overseas. She
continued to coach at Junior Club and Senior Club level. In 2009
she returned to university and retrained as an interior designer.
She stayed in touch with basketball as a member of Basketball
Australias High Performance Commission.
Bronwyn Marshall played at two World Championships and
one Olympic Games. She was a member of the first Australian
Women’s Basketball Team to play at an Olympic Games. She was
an All Star in the WNBL and one of the first Australian women
players to play professionally in Europe.
In every sense Bronwyn Marshall was a trailblazer for women’s
basketball in Australia.
1984 Olympic Games
6 feet 0 inch (183cm) Forward
Bronwyn Marshall in the locker-rooms in LA 1984
(Courtesy of B. Marshall)
Bronwyn in action in the WNBL
(Courtesy B. Marshall)
Bronwyn Marshall (No 5) takes a rebound
(Courtesy B. Marshall)
chapter text here
28
1984,1988
| e Players | Patricia Mickan
Patricia Mickan was born March 12th 1957 in Renmark, South
Australia.
Pat’s early memory of playing basketball was on an outside,
asphalt court in Renmark in the Riverland of SA. “It was a hot,
40-degree night. A snake slithered from nearby bushes across the
court and sent players spontaneously running in all directions.
The referee picked it up by its tail, and swung the snake around
in an attempt to kill it by knocking its head on the asphalt. The
snake accidentally slipped from the referees hand and flew
towards the cars parked alongside the court. People sitting on
the car bonnets scattered feverishly. That’s how basketball was
in the country,” says Pat.
Pat finished school at Renmark and started playing serious
basketball at eighteen in Adelaide.
She recalls, “This meant rapidly learning a new language, which
included concepts as simple as a screen, a low post, a backdoor
cut, motion offence, a pick, and so on. The biggest shock was to
the body.....training for two hours at full-on intensity!”
Her first South Australian (SA) State representation was as a senior.
She was selected to her first Australian Women’s Basketball
Team in 1978 for a tour to Europe and China. “I was a team-mate
alongside some of the great players of the time Maree Benny-
Jackson, Jenny Cheesman, and Robyn Gull-Maher,” says Pat.
The tour of China was compelling as the Australian Team was
one of the first “European” teams to tour there as China had
been closed to the outside world for decades. “The local people
everywhere were goggle-eyed at these lanky, fair-skinned
athletic strangers,” says Pat.
Pat’s career was blossoming and she was selected on the
Australian Team for the 1979 World Championships in Korea
where the team finished an outstanding 4th place.
These championships were followed by her selection for Australia
for the 1980 Pre-Olympic Qualification Tournament in Bulgaria.
Unfortunately the team failed to qualify for the Olympic Games
in Moscow. That elusive Olympic appearance was still out there!
That same year Pat was a member of the Australian Team that
travelled to Chinese Taipei for seven games and which won the
Oceania Championships.
Pat continued her career in the SA Club competition and in the
inaugural Australian Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL)
which commenced in 1981. In her WNBL career Pat played 158
games with West Adelaide and the North Adelaide Rockets.
Pat Mickan was an outstanding basketball player. She was a very
strong, and was quite a force around the basket. This was even
more outstanding when it is realised that she was only 179 cm
in height. She and fellow SA team-mate Julie Nykiel (183cm)
made a career out of playing against much taller opponents
internationally and domestically. Pat established a reputation as
an outstanding defensive player at all levels.
Olympic team-mate Trish Cockrem comments, “Pat Mickan was
one of the most knowledgeable people I know...about basketball
and everything....I would like her on my team always.
“Pat Mickan was a great team player with exceptional defensive
and rebounding skills. Pat was one of my toughest opponents and
I always preferred to play with her rather than against her. She was
a very talented all round athlete,says fellow Olympian Julie Nykiel.
In 1984 Pat as a member of the Australian Team travelled to
China for a seven match tour. The team emphasis at this time
was to qualify for the 1984 Olympic Games.
Pat was selected on the Australian Women’s Basketball Team to
play in the 1984 Olympic Qualification Tournament in Cuba.
Australia played outstandingly in Cuba but failed to qualify for the
Olympic Tournament in LA. Pat and the rest of the team returned
home devastated. However in a twist of fate Cuba withdrew from
the Olympics as part of the Soviet Bloc boycott and the Australians
were admitted to the Olympic Games in their place.
Pat describes her feelings as she marched around the Forum in
Los Angeles with the Australian athletes. “The whole atmosphere
inside the stadium saturated me with a sense of anticipation and
excitement, and thrill....I was so uplifted that tears welled in my
1984, 1988 Olympic Games
5 feet 10 inch (179cm) Forward
e Australian Womens Basketball Team arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1980 at the height of the Communist
regime. Pat Mickan recalls that, “We felt as alien and as menaced as any in country we had visited. Our bags
arrived at the hotel on a separate bus to the one we used.....and the zips on our bags were in different places
when they were delivered to our rooms.
“Early on the second day, we became aware of a thin, middle-aged man following us wherever we went. A
group of players would go for a walk out of the hotel and he would follow. We would stop, he would stop. He
was at our team training, at lunch, at dinner, at the games, in the hotel foyer, in the hotel garden. It was a very
uncomfortable feeling.
Pat Mickan (Basketball Australia)
Patricia Mickan
29
1984,1988
e Players | Patricia Mickan |
eyes in an unexpected response”.
In LA Australia played outstandingly. Pat and her undersized
team-mates battled hard and troubled all teams. In their final
game of the tournament against Yugoslavia their one tall
player Sue Geh had a “blinder” and with Pat’s contributing a
courageous 15 points the Aussies got a win and secured a 5th
place in the Olympics. This was Australias first win at Olympic
Women’s competition and an outstanding result by our first ever
Olympic Women’s Basketball Team.
The inaugural Australia Games early in 1985 was Pat’s next
appearance for the National Women’s Team. Australia went on
to win the Gold Medal. Pat was also a member of the Australian
Team that won the Oceania Championships that year before
undertaking a tough twelve match tour of Europe.
In 1986 Pat was a member of the Australian Team that was determined
to keep its high world ranking when they played in the World
Championships in the Soviet Union. Unfortunately they were unable to
repeat the heroics of LA and the team finished in 9th position.
In 1987 Pat played for Australia on an eleven match tour of
Europe and a mammoth seventeen match tour of Canada and the
USA. The team was doing a lot of travelling but it was toughening
them up for what was to come in 1988.
Selection for the 1988 Seoul Olympics was Pat’s main personal
goal now. She was selected to the Australian Team to play a
game against Japan and in a five match series against Canada.
She was named to the Australian Women’s Team to play at the
1988 Olympic Games...if they could qualify!
Pat played for Australia in the Seoul Goodwill Tournament prior
to the 1988 Olympic Qualification Tournament that was held in
Malaysia. At the Qualification Tournament Australia finished in
6th position and qualified for the Olympic Games in Seoul.
Pat was determined to play a strong role in getting the Australian
Team to their first ever Olympic Medal. Pat and the team played
outstanding basketball and they handed the Soviet Union their
first ever Olympic defeat and made the Semi-Finals for the first
time in their history. Unfortunately the Aussies went on to lose to
Yugoslavia by one point with less than two seconds to go. They
then lost in the Bronze Medal playoff to Russia.
Pat and the team had achieved an outstanding 4th place in the
Olympic Games.
The 1988 Seoul Olympics were the last time Pat was to play for
Australia.
“To this day I still get goose bumps when thinking about the
Olympics...it is just a very rare and precious experience to me.
The Olympics and International Basketball are very dear to me
as it gave me the opportunity to travel, see the world and to be
exposed to other cultures and to have doors open that would
never otherwise have been open,” says Pat.
Pat Mickan played over 150 games for her country. She played
in three World Championships and two Olympic Games and
was a pioneer in the Australian WNBL. She set examples of
courage, drive, demeanour and passion for women’s basketball
in Australia. “Pat Mickan was one of the smartest players I have
ever seen. Playing the post position with a body much smaller
than her opposition didn’t seem to be a problem for her. Her
natural instincts and reading of the game were outstanding. I
also roomed with her a lot in the early days and she was lots of
fun and was very unique in her outlook on the world,” recalls
Olympic team-mate Bronwyn Marshall.
Pat’s sporting career included representing Australia in Netball
as well as coaching netball at the inter-State level.
She was also a trailblazer when she became the Australian
Football League’s (AFL) first female skills coach when she took
the role with the Adelaide Football Club.
After Pat retired from basketball as a player she established a
career in journalism while she continued to coach in basketball
and netball. She has been a television and radio commentator on
the NBL for the Adelaide 36ers, a journalist and a member of the
BA Honours Selection Committee.
Pat Mickan was inducted into the Basketball Australia Hall of
Fame in 2013.
1984, 1988 Olympic Games
5 feet 10 inch (179cm) Forward
Pat Mickan (left) and Jenny Cheesman at
the 1984 LA Olympic Games
(Basketball Australia)
Pat Mickan (9) defends Haixai (“Baby Huey”) from China while
Robyn Maher (4) moves in to assist
(Basketball Australia/P. Mickan)
chapter text here
30
1984,1988
| e Players | Marina Moa
Marina Moffa was born April 17th in 1964 in Adelaide, South
Australia.
She began playing Club basketball when she was fourteen years
of age (1978). She went to watch a friend try out for the U16
State Basketball Team and the coach, Lee Prettejohn, asked her
to join in. She was not keen at all as she had only played in social
competitions and other than being the tallest girl out there she
felt she had very little to offer. Lee thought differently and worked
with her constantly and eventually Marina made the State Team.
Marina played at North Adelaide under the guidance of Fran
Barnes (an Australian player) and her progress was very rapid.
She progressed so much that she made every State team from
then on through to Under 20’s
At age sixteen Marina was asked to go to Provo, Utah in the USA
and play for the High School Basketball Team and possibly train
with the Utah College program.
She accepted the offer and headed for the US. Marina recalls,
“Whilst it was a big move for me to go to the States it was a great
experience. I lived with a wonderful family, did Year 12 at Provo High
School and spent hours and hours training with both Provo High
and the College team. I returned home in July the following year for
my oldest sister’s wedding and had two weeks to decide whether I
wanted to return to Utah and play College for the next four years. I
chose to stay at home and continue to play with North Adelaide.
Kay McFarlane (Australian 1984 Olympic Assistant Coach) was
now the coach at North Adelaide and was to have a great effect
on the gifted and talented Marina. “Mac, as we all called her,
was not only my coach but also my mentor throughout many
years of my career and I will be forever indebted to her. The other
person who I owe much to is my sister, Rose, who without her
guidance, patience and endless dropping off and picking up for
games, trainings and airports etc I would not have achieved
what I did. As our mum passed away when I was eleven years
old people like Rose, my other sister, Lisa, Kay Mac and Lee
Prettejohn played vital parts in my growing up,” recalls Marina.
In 1983 at nineteen years of age Marina was selected for her first
Australian Team when she played for the Australian Women’s
Team in the Oceania Tournament in New Zealand. “Being my first
overseas trip and having no idea what to take, I spent a lot of
time hauling bags on and off the bus, up and down flights of
stairs and packing and unpacking my suitcase which was so over
packed it wasn’t funny - not to me anyway, but the rest of the
team thought it was,” says Marina.
In 1984 Marina was selected on the Australian Women’s Team
for the 1984 Olympic Qualification Tournament in Cuba. She was
now a 6’1” (185cms) 77kgs forward and played above her size
internationally. Australia played very well through the Olympic
Qualification Tournament but did not qualify for the LA Olympics
Games. Marina and the team returned home most disappointed.
Then it was announced that some Soviet- Bloc teams were
boycotting the Olympics and Australia would replace one of the
boycotting nations. The Australian Women’s Basketball Team
was in the Olympics for the first time!
“We were fortunate enough to qualify for the Los Angeles
Olympics” says Marina, And I was part of that team. I was the
youngest member of the team and had the opportunity of playing
with the Aussie greats of the game such as Jenny Cheesman,
Pat Mickan, Karen Dalton, Julie Nykiel, Robyn Maher and Trish
Cockrem to name a few. I can vividly remember in my first game.
Brendan Flynn, the Coach, looking down the end of the bench
and with about two minutes to go he called me up to sub on.
Well never have I been so nervous! From memory I got to go
to the foul line in that time and while my knees were shaking
terribly I think I may have made one out of the two shots.
Australia finished the Olympic Tournament in style when they
had an upset win over Yugoslavia and secured fifth place (out
of six teams).
In 1985 Marina played on the Australian Womens Teams that
won the Gold Medal at the inaugural Australia Games and
won the Oceania Championships. She toured to Europe with
Australia in late 1985.
In 1987 Marina undertook two long tours with Australia when
the team went to Europe and then to the USA and Canada.
1984, 1988 Olympic Games
6 feet 1 inch (185cm) Forward/Centre
Marina Moffa relaxes before a game in 1984 LA
Olympic Games (Basketball Australia)
e North Adelaide Womens Team were hard at it in training under Coach Kay McFarlane. One of the star
players on the Adelaide team was Australian great Jill Hammond who was as tough and uncompromising as
they come. is day (as with most days) Hammond was working over the young girl marking her in defence.
She elbowed, pushed, knocked around and constantly strived to get every advantage over the youngster.
Suddenly the youngster had had enough and retaliated with her own elbows and pushing. “Oh God I’m dead,
thought the youngster. Coach Kay broke into a big grin, and Jill stared the youngster down and said “Well it’s
about bloody time you gave me something back Moff. Now let’s get on with it.” Marina Moffa then realised
that she had been tested and they were all waiting for her to stand up for herself. “If only I had known earlier!”
says Marina.
Marina Moa
31
e Players | Marina Moa |
1984,1988
Marina was a superb athlete. Her mobility up and down the court
made her difficult to defend. Her jump-shot was in the men’s
style above her head and this made her shot difficult to block.
Her rebounding was superb and she played very physically, was
a staunch team player and a tenacious defender.
The 1988 Seoul Olympic Games were the next major personal
focus for Marina. She was selected on the Australian Womens
Basketball Team for the 1988 Olympic Games. However Australia
still had to qualify. After playing in the Seoul Goodwill Tournament
Australia played in the 1988 Olympic Qualification Tournament in
Malaysia and qualified for the Seoul Olympic Games. Prior to the
Olympics Marina travelled with the Australian Team to Riga in
Latvia for a tournament.
Australia started the 1988 Olympic Tournament with a heavy loss
to hosts Korea but bounced back to defeat the USSR for that
nation’s first loss in Olympic Women’s Basketball. The Australians
created history when they became the first Australian Women’s
Basketball Team to qualify through to the Semi-Finals at an
Olympic Games.
The Australians were so close to playing off for a Gold medal
when they played Yugoslavia in the Semi-Finals. With .02
seconds left in the game Yugoslavia rebounded their own shot,
threw the ball up from behind the backboard to score a basket for
the Australians to lose by one point.
“That semi-final against Yugoslavia was a night game and we
had to suit up around 9.30am, I think, for the Bronze Medal
game the following morning against Russia. The whole team
was so deflated and devastated knowing we had lost a golden
opportunity to play off for Gold that by the time we lined up to
play Russia the following morning the wind had been taken out
of us. I know now that a Bronze Medal would have been great
too but it just was not meant to be,” reflects Marina.
In 1989 Marina was selected on the Australian Team and toured
to Japan but did not play due to injury. She did play for Australia
when it won the 1989 Oceania Championships. That same year
Marina toured with the Australian Team to the USA.
In 1990 Marina toured to Europe with Australia and played in
the Seoul Goodwill Tournament before playing in the 1990
Women’s World Basketball Championships in Malaysia, where
the team finished in 6th position. That same year Marina played
for Australia in the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle.
1991 saw Marina play for Australia in a series in Australia with
the USSR, China, and Korea before Australia completed the year
with a tour to the USA.
After playing for Australia against China in 1992, Marina was
chosen on the Australian Team to play in the 1992 Olympic
Qualification Tournament in Spain. Initially the Australian Team
played very well in the Qualification Tournament only to lose their
last two games and miss qualification for the Barcelona Olympics
on percentage win-loss points. It was a devastating result for
Marina and the team.
Marina’s last appearance for Australia was in a series against
Japan in Australia in 1994.
Marina continued to play in the WNBL with North Adelaide and
then with the Adelaide Lightning. In 1993 she had her son Mitch
in Melbourne where she played for a year with the Dandenong
Rangers in the WNBL. She then returned to Adelaide to re-join
the Lightning. Marina played for the Lightning when they won
the WNBL title in three consecutive years 1994, 1995 and 1996.
Marina’s career in the WNBL was a great achievement. When
she retired from the WNBL she had played 287 games (the
second most at that time) was third in point scoring (3048),
second in field goals attempted, third in field goals made, third in
free-throws attempted (808) and free-throws made (592), first in
fouls (935), second in turnovers, and second in rebounds (1225).
At the end of the 1996 WNBL season Marina at 32 years of age
and after seventeen years in the League retired from WNBL
basketball. She continued to play in the local South Australian
District competition with West Adelaide. Marina Moffa (Wood)
has four children (Mitch, Emily, Chad and Blake).
Marina Moffa played for Australia in two Olympic Games and
was a member of Australias first Women’s Basketball Team to
play at the Olympic Games. She had an outstanding career in
the WNBL and will be remembered as one of the finest women
basketball players of her era.
1984, 1988 Olympic Games
6 feet 1 inch (185cm) Forward/Centre
Marina Moffa playing for North Adelaide in the WNBL
(M. Moffa)
Marina Moffa (12) battles Haixai “Baby Huey”
(Basketball Australia)
chapter text here
32
1984,1988
| e Players | Julie Nykiel
Julie had been playing netball for her school and church up to
then as a defender and she liked the fact that in basketball you
weren’t restricted to where you could go on the court like you
were in netball. She also liked the fact that any player could
shoot the ball. She was quite a good 100m sprinter in her
primary school days and thought she could make good use of
this skill on the basketball court especially in transition from one
end of the court to the other.
After a relatively short time she was spotted by Glenelg basketball
official Cliff Fawcett who invited her to join the Tigers and play for
a District Club. She took up his invitation and quickly climbed the
ranks and made her first Under 18 State Squad at fifteen years
of age. In that same year she started playing District Basketball
(State League) for Glenelg’s Senior Women’s Team and it was
also where she renewed her friendship with Jenny Cheesman a
future Olympic basketball player.
Julie first met Jenny on an interschool netball trip to Penola in
South Australias South-East. Jenny was a year older than Julie
(Grade 7) and Julie played in another team (Grade 6).
Julie was an outstanding junior player in the Adelaide
competitions and as a junior represented SA in the senior
Women’s Australian Basketball Championships.
At the 1977 Australian Basketball Championships Julie was
selected in her first Australian Womens Basketball Squad at the
age of eighteen. No Australian Women’s Basketball Team was
selected that year.
Julie’s first selection for Australia was in 1978 when she was
selected on the Australian Team that won the Oceania 1979
World Championships Qualification Tournament in New Zealand.
She was also selected for Australia for a fifteen match tour of
Europe and China in August-September that year.
Julie was selected on the 1979 Australian Team to play in the
1979 World Championships in Korea. Australia played two
games in a Pre-World Games Tournament and then in the World
Championships themselves.
Australia played outstanding basketball and finished in 4th place
at the World Championships and demonstrated to the world that
Australia was on the rise in international women’s basketball. At
this time Julie was twenty years of age.
She was selected on the 1980 Australian Women’s Basketball
Team that contested the 1980 Olympic Qualification Tournament
held in Bulgaria. Unfortunately the team failed to qualify for the
finals in the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.
From 1979 to1982 Julie played in the SA State League Netball
Competition with Sabres Netball Club, winning Premierships in
1979, 1980 and 1982. Jenny Cheesman, Pat and Lee Mickan
were also members of the Sabres team.
Julie toured with the Australia Basketball Team to China and
Chinese Taipei in 1981 and 1982. At the William Jones Cup in
Taipei she was named to the Tournament All Star Team.
Her outstanding basketball career continued when she was
selected to the Australian Womens Team for the 1983 World
Championships in Brazil. The team finished 11th in the World
Championships. That same year Julie played for Australia in the
Commonwealth Championships (which they won) and in the next
year in a series against China.
In 1984 Julie played for Australia when it played in the 1984
Olympic Qualification Tournament that was held in Cuba. The
team played outstandingly but failed to qualify for the Olympic
Games to be held in Los Angeles. Julie returned to Australia
devastated. However in a last minute twist the Australians were
included in the 1984 Olympic Games when Hungary, Cuba and
the USSR decided to boycott the Games.
In regard to the 1984 Olympic Games Julie recalls. “Walking in
the Colosseum for Australia at the 1984 LA Olympics Opening
Ceremony was one of the best experiences of my life and still
sends shivers down my spine every time I think of it.
Julie had an outstanding Olympic Tournament. She gave away
height and size to her opponents but again proved to be a handful
for the opposition. Her highest scores were 18 points against China
and 15 against Korea. In a major upset Australia defeated Yugoslavia
1984, 1988 Olympic Games
6 feet 0 inch (183cm) Forward/Centre
Julie Nykiel was born December 13
th
1958 in Glenelg, South Australia. She started playing basketball when she
was thirteen years of age after watching her father Kevin play at the Marion Basketball Stadium. e Nykiel
family lived one house from the stadium and Julie knew as soon as she watched her first game of basketball that
it was a game she thought she might play well.
Julie Nykiel and some of her trophies
(J. Nykiel)
Julie Nykiel
1984,1988
33
Julie Nykiel (10) playing for Australia (Basketball Australia)
Julie Nykiel (10) playing in the WNBL (Basketball Australia)
e Players | Julie Nykiel |
in their last game and finished in fifth position (out of six teams).
Julie’s illustrious basketball career continued as she performed
outstandingly in the Women’s National Basketball League
(WNBL) in Australia and with her Noarlunga Club. Julie had
played in the inaugural WNBL which started in 1981. In 1982
Julie set WNBL record when she scored 53 points in a game. This
was a record that was to last for 23 years and was set in the days
prior to the three point line. Not that the three point line would
have appealed to Julie as her strength was playing near the
basket. She was only 183cm tall and played all her life against
bigger opponents. This was particularly so in international
basketball.
Julie was a member of the Australian Team that won the Gold
Medal at the inaugural Australia Games and the Oceania
Championships in 1985. At the end of that year she toured to
Europe for 12 games with the Australian Team.
Julie played for Australia in the 1986 World Championships in
the Soviet Union where the team finished in 9th place.
She was a member of the Australian Team that undertook a
seventeen games trip to the USA and Canada in 1987.
In 1988 she played for Australia against Canada in Canada (five
games) before playing for Australia when it finished in sixth place
at the 1988 Olympic Qualification Tournament in Malaysia and
thereby qualified for the Olympic Games in Seoul.
The 1988 Seoul Olympic tournament was to be a defining time
for the Australian Womens Basketball Team as they defied
all expectations (except for themselves) and qualified for the
Olympic Games Women’s Basketball semi-finals. In the semi-final
after inflicting on the USSR it’s first loss in Olympic competition
they lost on a last second basket to Yugoslavia. A win in that
game would have put them through to the Gold Medal game.
Unfortunately that first Olympic medal evaded them when they
lost to the USSR in the Bronze Medal playoff game. The Australian
Team finished in 4th position. It was a brilliant performance.
Julie says, “I was bitterly disappointed that we didn’t come home
with that elusive medal but put it in perspective a few months
after the Olympics. I thought that our performance at those
Olympics was brilliant.
The Seoul Olympics were the final appearance for Julie in an
Australian uniform as she retired from representative basketball
but continued to play for Noarlunga in the WNBL until her
retirement in 1990. Throughout her WNBL career Julie played
for only one Club and that was the Noarlunga Club in Adelaide.
She had played with great distinction in a career that took her to
the greatest heights.
Despite her disappointments at not winning a WNBL title Julie
did win two WNBL Most Valuable Awards in 1984 and 1988, and
five WNBL Top Point Scorer Awards in 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985
and 1988. She is the 5th highest field goal percentage shooter
all-time in the WNBL.
She missed one WNBL season in 1989 after having major ankle
surgery after the Seoul Olympics and was told by the medicos
that she would not be able to play basketball for twelve months.
That was when she picked up playing netball again and played
for “Contax” in the State League. To demonstrate her sporting
versatility Julie was selected in the SA Senior State Netball
Teams in 1989 and 1991.
Julie Nykiel played over 400 games in the SA State Basketball
League Competition and on many occasions was the
competitions’ top point-scorer, best defensive player and was
awarded Most Valuable Player in 1981 and 1991.
Julie says, “The biggest influences on my basketball career were
my mum and dad who ferried me to all those early games and
training sessions before I could drive, and they were always
supporting me throughout my career.
Julie adds “Brendan Flynn was probably the most influential
coach on me. Other people who contributed to my success
were coaches Jim Madigan, Kay MacFarlane, players Heather
Mickan, Lee Mickan, Sandy Porter (Prettejohn), Tracy Morris and
of course Jenny Cheesman.
In 2005 Julie was named in the WNBLs 25th Anniversary team
and was awarded Life Membership of the WNBL in 2002. A Life
Member of Noarlunga City Tigers and Basketball South Australia
she received the Basketball Australia Merit Award in 1987. She
was a radio commentator at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and
won a Gold medal in the 1994 World Masters Games (35-40
years group). In 1997 she was awarded an OAM for services to
Basketball, Netball and the community. She carried the Olympic
Torch in 2000 and in 2003 was awarded the Australian Centenary
of Australia Medal. In 2000 she was awarded the Australian
Sports Medal.
Julie Nykiel was inducted into the Australian Basketball Hall of
Fame in 2010.
1984, 1988 Olympic Games
6 feet 0 inch (183cm) Forward/Centre
chapter text here
34
Donna Quinn Olympian (Courtesy D. Quinn)
| e Players | Donna Quinn
1984,1988
At the AIS Donna successfully juggled full-time work at a bank
and the rigours and demands of training every day. This early
focus clearly demonstrated her determination to be the best at
everything she did. As she describes it, At the end of the day
if you never take a risk in life you are certainly not extending
yourself to the fullest. You must always be courageous and
creative.
Her goal at this time was to play for Australia at the 1984 Olympic
Games. She undertook a tour to Fiji with the AIS where they won
the Oceania Tournament. She was a member of the AIS Women’s
Team playing in the fledgling Womens National Basketball
League (WNBL) which was giving her great experience against
the best senior players in the nation.
Her play was so impressive she was selected to the Australian
Women’s Basketball Team to tour China in early 1984. She
impressed the coaches and selectors enough on her debut with
Australia to be selected to play for Australia at the 1984 Olympic
Qualification Tournament in Cuba.
Australia played very well in Cuba and was very unlucky not to
qualify for the Olympic Games Tournament in LA. Donna and the
team returned to Australia extremely disappointed. However
they were then told that some Soviet teams were boycotting the
Olympics and the Australian Team was now in the Olympics!
In the 1984 LA Olympics Australia played well in the six team
tournament. They caused a major upset when they defeated
powerhouse Yugoslavia to take fifth place.
For the 21 year old Donna the Olympics were a huge eye-opener
on and off the court. Donna says, “The Village atmosphere,
meeting Michael Jordon, the Opening and Closing Ceremony, all
were huge experiences for me as was playing against many of
the best players in the world.
Perhaps the greatest lesson she learnt was about setting limits.
She learnt not to set limits! As she explains, “No longer did I wish
to set limiting goals. Now it was about daring to achieve.This
was the attitude Donna was to take from this time on.
Donna left the AIS in 1985 and joined the North Adelaide Rockets
Club one of Australias leading womens teams.
She was a member of the Australian Team that won the Gold Medal
in the 1985 Australia Games and was a member of the team that
won the Oceania Championships that same year. She then travelled
with the Australian Team to Europe for a twelve game tour.
In 1986 Donna played for Australia in the World Championships in
the Soviet Union and by their standards finished a disappointing
9th. Lessons were still being learnt!
Donna was selected tour to Europe with the Australia Team in
1987. That same year she was a member of the Australian Team
that undertook a seventeen game tour of the USA and Canada.
In 1988 Donna played in Australia for Australia against Japan
and Canada.
Donna was selected for her second Olympic Games in 1988.
However the team still had to qualify. She travelled with the team
to the Olympic “Goodwill” Tournament in Seoul and then to the
1988 Olympic Qualification Tournament in Malaysia.
In Malaysia the team played eleven games and qualified to play
in the Seoul Olympics. Between the games in Malaysia and the
Seoul Olympics the Australian Team played in a tournament in
Riga, Latvia for another six games. The team was ready for Seoul!
At this time Donna was a major player and starter on the team.
Donna and all the team vividly remember the Seoul Olympic
tournament where they were thrashed by the hosts in game
one, but fought their way back to win their next three games and
then defeated the USSR. That was the first defeat for the USSR
Women’s Basketball Team at an Olympic Games.
In the semi-final against Yugoslavia, where the winner advanced
to the Gold Medal game, the Australians lost by a point (in the
last 0.8 of a second). It then lost to the Soviets in the Bronze
Medal game and finished 4th in the tournament.
Donna recalls, “It was a devastating end to the tournament and
to this day I can still feel the rawness of the losses to Yugoslavia
and Russia.
1984, 1988 Olympic Games
5 feet 11 inch (180cm) Forward
Donna Quinn was born October 12
th
, 1963 in Pittsworth, Queensland. She commenced basketball in 1973
as a ten year old on the bitumen courts in her hometown of Pittsworth on the Darling Downs. One of seven
children she attended St Stephens School and Pittsworth State High School where she was school captain in
1980.
During her junior years she represented Pittsworth, Toowoomba, Southern Zone, Queensland, and Queensland
Country in Under 14, 16, 18 and 20’s. In 1981 she was one of the inaugural winners of a basketball scholarship
to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra.
Donna Quinn
35
Donna Quinn scores at the 1988 Olympic Games (Basketball
Australia)
Donna Quinn (8) playing for Australia in the International
Goodwill Games in Seoul in 1988 (D. Quinn)
e Players | Donna Quinn |
1984,1988
However Donna had demonstrated to herself that, “We dared
to dream, and it was from here that I could truly see that a
champion team could always beat a team of champions.
From 1985 (after leaving the AIS) to 1990 Donna continued
her highly successful WNBL career with the Noarlunga Club
in Adelaide, the North Adelaide Rockets and the Adelaide
Lightning. In all Donna played 215 WNBL games for the AIS and
the Adelaide Clubs. She played 171 games with North Adelaide.
She ranks 4th all time in the WNBL in points scored (2620), 4th
in attempted baskets (2310), 4th in baskets made (1100), 3rd in
steals (310), holds the record for the most steals in a game (11)
and is 2nd in single game offensive rebounds (11).
Donna was one of the dominant players in the WNBL for nine
years and was named to the All Star 5 in 1988 and 1990. In 1990
she played for the North Adelaide Rockets when the Club won
the WNBL title. Donna was named the Most Valuable Player
(MVP) in the 1990 WNBL Grand Final.
After the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games Donna played for Australia
in 1989 against Japan in Australia in a five game series, helped
the team win the Oceania Championships, and went with the
team on a thirteen game tour of the USA. The 1989 tour to the
USA were her last games for Australia.
In a surprise to many Donna retired from elite basketball at the
end of the 1990 season to concentrate on her banking career.
Michelle Brogan describes Donnas abilities and influences on
her. “Shortly after leaving the AIS I had the privilege of playing
a season with Donna Quinn (Brown) in Adelaide and loved every
minute of it. I would have to say that once I left the AIS she would
have been one of my biggest influences. Her drive, endeavour,
work ethic and love for competition were infectious. I suppose
you can say I modelled parts of my game from her.”
Donna was to go on and succeed in an outstanding career within
the banking industry. She managed the Westpac Olympic and
Paralympics sponsorship for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She was
so successful in this role that she was selected by the Greek
Olympic Committee to assist with their sponsorships for the 2004
Athens Olympic Games.
In 2007 Donna moved into property development in Australia and
overseas.
Donna concludes, “I am a firm believer that opportunities come
by good luck and chance.....taking a risk. At the end of the day
if you never take a risk in life you are certainly not extending
yourself to the fullest.
Donna Quinn played for Australia in two Olympic Games and
one World Championship. She was an outstanding WNBL player
and a player who played a large role in setting the Australian
Women’s Basketball Team on its road to be an elite National
Team in world basketball.
1984, 1988 Olympic Games
5 feet 11 inch (180cm) Forward
chapter text here
36
| e Players | Sandy Brondello
1988,1996, 2000, 2004
Sandy Brondello drives around an opponent
(Sport the Library)
It was not all basketball as Sandy was an accomplished Vigaro
player and athlete. She was the Australian Long Jump champion
for twelve year olds. Sandy started to play A Grade senior
basketball in Mackay at the age of twelve. She demonstrated
exceptional basketball talent and potential at a very early age.
As a twelve year old she started representative basketball in
Under 14’s and played for North Queensland from Under 14’s
through Under 16’s, Under 18’s and Under 20’s. At these stages
she was heavily influenced and coached by Carol Insch at the
Club level and by Norma Connolly in the representative teams.
Sandy was selected on the Australian Junior Women’s Basketball
Team when she was only sixteen years of age. She played with
the National Junior Team against Athletes in Action, and in the
Calgary Womens International Tournament in Canada. In 1985
she played for Australia at the World Junior Championships. The
team surprised the basketball world by taking 6th place.
Her talents, skills and abilities were now on the national stage.
So much so that in 1986 she was offered a scholarship to the
Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra. This was a big
decision for the seventeen year old youngster from Mackay but
she had the drive and belief in herself to accept the scholarship
and to see where it would take her.
Sandy was a sensation at the AIS as in her first year she teamed
up with an outstanding group of sixteen and seventeen year olds
such as Nina Cass, Fiona Robinson, Karen Smith, Jenny Riesener,
Anne Robilliard, and Joanne Moyle, all of whom went on to be
outstanding players in Australian women’s basketball.
Sandy explains what happened. “I knew I had a lot to learn and
was driven by my desire to give my all in being the best player I
could be, plus I had a huge passion for the game. Adrian Hurley
the AIS coach was the biggest influence on my career as he
believed in me and gave me direction both on and off the court
to be the best I could be!”
Under Sandy’s leadership in 1986 the AIS women (average age
of seventeen years) went to the Womens National Basketball
League (WNBL) Grand-Final and won the Australian Women’s
Club Championships. Sandy’s leadership, leaping ability and
jump-shot stamped her as one of the best players in the country.
That same year she travelled with the National Junior Team on a
ten game tour of China.
In 1987, as a seventeen year old, Sandy was selected to the
Australian Women’s Basketball Team for an eleven game tour of
Europe. That same year she represented Australia in the World
Student Games and toured the USA and Canada on a seventeen
match tour with the Australian Women’s Team.
Sandy was selected to play for Australia at the 1988 Olympics
(they still had to qualify). She played for Australia against Japan
and Canada in Australia and in the Seoul Goodwill Tournament in
Korea before the team travelled to Malaysia for the 1988 Olympic
Qualification Tournament.
Australia qualified for the Olympic Games through the
Qualification Tournament in Malaysia.
Prior to Seoul Australia travelled to Riga, Latvia for games.
At the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games Australia went on to upset the
world by securing 4th place in the Olympics and along the way
inflict on the Soviet Union their first defeat in Olympic Women’s
Basketball competition. A last second basket in the semi-finals
by Yugoslavia prevented Australia from playing off for the Gold
Medal. In the playoff for the Bronze Medal the Australians lost
to the USSR.
Sandy comments, “I learnt a lot from the Olympic experience
by being alongside so many experienced players such as Jenny
Cheesman, Robyn Maher, Julie Nykiel, Pat Mickan and company
and I was determined to use the experience to establish a long
career as an Australian player. That whole experience in 1988 lit
the fire in my belly that lasted until the day after my last Olympics
in Athens 2004.
After the Olympic Games, Sandy continued her WNBL career
with Bankstown and the Brisbane Lady Bullets from 1988 to
1996. She was selected as MVP of the WNBL in 1995 and was
the Leagues leading scorer in 1994 and 1995. She was named to
the WNBL All Star Five in 1994 and 1995.
1988, 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games
5 feet 7 inch (170cm) Guard
Sandra “Sandy” Anne Brondello was born on August 20th, 1968 in Mackay, Queensland. She started playing
basketball at the age of nine when her older sister Karen had joined a team in the Mackay Under 16 competition.
Sandy had gone along to watch and was asked by a coach from the Midgets club whether she would like to be
on a team. e Midgets trained once a week on a school outside concrete court. “I fell in love with basketball
from game one!” says Sandy.
Sandy Brondello
37
e Players | Sandy Brondello |
1988,1996, 2000, 2004
In 1989 Sandy played for Australia against Japan, when Australia
won the Oceania Championships, and on a thirteen game tour
of the USA.
Her aim was to play in the 1990 World Championships and
after an eleven match tour with Australia to Europe she was
selected on the team for the World Championships. She played
for Australia in the Seoul Goodwill Tournament and then in the
World Championships in Malaysia. The Australian Team finished
a highly creditable 6th position in the Championships.
That same year she was a member of the Australian Team that
played at the Goodwill Games in Seattle.
In 1991 Sandy played for Australia in a seven game tournament
in Australia against the USSR, China and Korea, before travelling
to the USA for twelve games.
The 1992 Barcelona Olympics were Sandy’s next goal. After a
series between the Australia and China she was selected on the
Australian Team for the 1992 Olympic Qualification Tournament.
The 1992 Olympic campaign for Sandy and the Australian Team
was a let-down after the dizzy heights of the 1988 Olympics,
as the team failed to get through the Olympic Qualification
Tournament in Vigo, Spain. Despite playing well and defeating
eventual Olympic Silver Medallists Spain Australia failed to
qualify on percentages when defeated by Brazil by two points
in overtime. They were very unlucky. Sandy was named as the
1988, 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games
5 feet 7 inch (170cm) Guard
Sandy Brondello classic jump-shot (Sport the Library)
38
1988,1996, 2000, 2004
Sandy Brondello
| e Players | Sandy Brondello
1992 Basketball Australia Female International Player of the Year.
After the 1992 Olympics, Sandy made the move to play in Europe
in the tough European competitions. She joined forces with
the German Club BTV Wuppertal where she was to go on and
earn the reputation as one of the best players in Europe. She
helped Wuppertal to win ten German League and Cup titles and
captained the Club from 1993 to 1997.
In 1996 Sandy was named the European League MVP after
leading Wuppertal to the EuroLeague title. Sandy was named a
EuroLeague All Star in 1994, 1996 and 1997. She was a pioneer
for Australian female players in Europe and was one of our most
successful. She also played for a few months with Ros Casares,
Valencia, Spain but was injured and had to leave the Club.
In 1994 Sandy returned to play for Australia in a series against
Russia and Bulgaria and then in the Pre-OZ94 Tournament in a
lead up to the World Championships which were to be played
in Australia.
The Australian Team (now called the Opals) and Sandy performed
very well when they finished in 4th place in the 1994 World
Championships. By this time Sandy was a mainstay of the team
and her European experience was most valuable to the team.
In 1995 Sandy played with the Opals in a series in Australia
against Korea, on the team that won the Oceania 1996 Olympic
Qualification Tournament, and on a tour to Europe.
After the success of the national team in securing 4th place in
the 1994 World Championships the Opal’s eyes were clearly on
the aim to win a medal at the 1996 Olympic Games. Sandy was
selected for the Olympic Games and after games in the World
Basketball Challenge and pre-Olympic tournaments in Canada
and the USA played for Australia in the 1996 Olympic Games.
The 1996 Atlanta Olympics were to be a watershed for Sandy and
the Opals as the Opals became the first senior Australian Team
(male or female) to win a medal at a World or Olympic Tournament
when the team won a Bronze Medal. It was a magnificent result
and set the stage for the Opals for the next twenty years. Sandy
was a major player in the success of the Opals at this time.
Sandy played for the Opals in 1997 in the USQ Invitational
Tournament in the USA, and in the Golden Cup in Brazil. In
1998 she played for the Opals in the Japan Women’s Basketball
Festival, the Grand Prix in Slovakia and a tournament in Portugal
in a lead up to the 1998 World Championships.
The Opals backed their outstanding performance in the 1996
Atlanta Olympics when they won Bronze at the 1998 World
Championships held in Germany. Sandy was in familiar territory
in Germany and played a leading role in the success of the team.
She also played four games for the Opals in Australia that year
against China in the Maher Cup.
Of course the big prize for all the players was to be selected for
the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Sandy played in Australia for the Opals in the Maher Cup against
Russia and the Goldmark Cup against Brazil in 1999.
In 2000 Sandy was chosen on the Opals team for the Sydney
2000 Olympic Games.
The Olympic Test Event started the build-up for the Olympics
for the Opals , before they played Canada in the Goldmark Cup
and then travelled to France and Poland for games. Back home
the Opals played against New Zealand, in the C7 Challenge,
against the USA in Melbourne and Brazil in Wollongong in the
lead into Sydney.
In the Sydney 2000 Olympics Sandy again excelled and was one
of the teams leading scorers. The Opals often led by Sandy’s
scoring did not lose a game in the tournament until the Gold
Medal game. The Opals performed magnificently only to lose the
USA in the Gold Medal Game.
Sandy did not play for the Opals in 2001. In 2002 she played for
the Opals in the World Challenge in Australia before playing for
the team in the 2002 World Championships in China.
When they won Bronze at the 2002 World Championships
the Opals repeated their performance of the 1998 World
Championships. Sandy now had two World Championship
Bronze Medals, and Olympic Silver and Bronze medals as well as
ten European Cups in her trophy cabinet.
While she juggled playing in the WNBL, Europe and for the Opals
there was still one more frontier for Sandy. That was for her to be
one of the trailblazers for Australian women basketball players
in the Womens National Basketball Association (WNBA) in the
USA, the premier Club competition in the world.
She started her WNBA career in 1998 by being selected in the
fourth round (34th overall) by the Detroit Shock and becoming
an All-Star in the first WNBA All-Star Game in 1998. She was
selected by the Indiana Fever in late 1999 expansion draft, but
never played a game for them, being traded to the Miami Sol
along with a first-round pick for Stephanie McCarty. After two
seasons at Miami she signed as a free agent with the Seattle
Storm in 2003, joining fellow Opals Lauren Jackson and Tully
Bevilaqua. She chose to sit out the 2000 and 2004 WNBA
seasons to prepare with the Opals for the Olympics.
Sandy was one of the top three-point shooters in WNBA history.
Her .410 percentage ranks her fourth all-time WNBA in three-point
percentage shooting. She was also the leading free-throw shooter
in the WNBA in one season. During her five year WNBA career
Sandy was a Starting Five player in 146 of 155 games, averaging
11.4 points, 2.3 assists, 1.9 rebounds and 29.6 minutes per game.
Sandy’s career in the WNBA and overseas kept her out of the
Opals teams for two years before she was selected to the Opals
for their 2004 Olympic campaign. She played for the Opals
against China in Australia and in China, toured to Spain and
Czechoslovakia and played in the FIBA Diamond Ball Tournament
in Crete in the lead into the 2004 Athens Olympics.
By this stage Sandy was the veteran of the Opals team and her
experience at Olympics, in the WNBA and all over the world was
of immense value to the team.
In Athens 2004 the Opals continued their great feats of Sydney
2000 and once again won a Silver Medal.
Sandy Brondello retired from playing for Australia after the
2004 Olympic Games. She finished her international career with
two Silver and one Bronze Medal at Olympic Games and two
Bronze Medals at World Championships, a wonderful record
and achievement. She had represented her country with great
distinction for seventeen years and played at four Olympics and
four World Championships. In all, she had played 328 games for
her country (26 junior and 302 senior).
“Sandy Brondello is one of the most professional players I think
the Opals have ever had,” comments Opals guard Kristi Harrower.
In reflection Sandy comments, “Playing for my country in
each of the 302 Senior Games and 26 Junior Games was by
far the biggest highlight of my career. Competing against the
best teams internationally and within our own team made
me become the best player that I could be. Each Olympics I
attended aided my development and gave me the necessary
experience to reach my full potential. I made lifelong friends
and memories that will never leave me”.
39
1988,1996, 2000, 2004
e Players | Sandy Brondello |
After retiring from playing basketball Sandy found that the
“fire in the belly” for basketball was still there and in 2005
she was chosen as Assistant Coach for the San Antonio Silver
Stars in the WNBA.
“Retiring was not a big an issue as I thought it may be, mostly
because I felt satisfied with my career and I went directly into
coaching at the highest level in the WNBA. I am enjoying the
same competitiveness that I had as a player. I love teaching
players and sharing my knowledge and experience I gained
from my playing days and from the great coaches I had. My
passion for the game will always be everlasting and I am
grateful that I can remain in the game I love with coaching!”
In 2008 she and the Stars went to their first WNBA finals. In
2010 Sandy was named as the Head Coach of the Stars and
took the team to the WNBA playoffs. In 2011 she was named
as Assistant Coach of the LA Sparks.
Sandy returned home to Queensland to serve as the Assistant
Coach for the Logan Thunder in the WNBL for 2 years (2010-
2012). She serves as an assistant coach under her husband,
Olaf Lange, for UMMC Basketball Club in Ekaterinburg,
Russia, one of the biggest Clubs in Europe. In 2014 she was
appointed as Head Coach of the Phoenix Mercury in the
WNBA. The Mercury under Sandy’s coaching set a WNBA
season record for wins and won the WNBA Championship.
Sandy was named as the 2014 WNBA Coach of the Year. She
became the first Australian coach to achieve these honours
in the WNBA.
Sandy Brondello’s basketball career can only be described
as extraordinary. This 5 feet 7 inch (170cm) shooting guard
with “the purest jump-shot in Australian women’s basketball”
has been an All Star player in the Australian WNBL, an All
Star player in Europe, a leading player for the Opals at four
Olympics and four World Championships, and an All Star
player in the WNBA. She has won two Silver and one Bronze
Medal at the Olympics and two Bronze medals at World
Championships. She has carried this amazing playing career
all over the world and then into the realms of coaching in
the WNBA. As well as her great contributions to Australian
basketball she has set an example and paved the way for
others to follow in her footsteps in Europe and the WNBA.
She is now setting examples for our female coaches.
Sandy Brondello was inducted into the Basketball Australia
Hall of fame in 2010.
Sandy Brondello playing against the USA (Sport the Library)
chapter text here
40
1988,1996, 2000
| e Players | Shelley Gorman
Shelley Anne Gorman was born on January 22nd, 1969 in
Melbourne, Victoria. Her junior basketball started with the
Diamond Valley Club and then Victorian State Junior Teams. She
had an outstanding junior career with Victoria. At an early age
she was identified at the Nunawading Club (where she was a
team-mate of Michelle Timms and Robyn Maher) that she was
an Australian representative player of the future.
Her first national representation was as a member of the 1985
Australian Junior Women’s team. After playing Athletes in Action
and at the Calgary Women’s Tournament in Canada the Junior
Team gained 6th place in the 1985 World Youth Championships
in the USA.
In 1986 as a seventeen year old she was a member of the
Nunawading team that won the Womens National Basketball
League (WNBL). That same year she toured to China with the
National Junior Team.
In 1987 she was awarded a scholarship to the Australian
Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra where she teamed with other
future Olympians such as Sandy Brondello and Fiona Robinson.
That year saw her selected for the first time on the Australian
Women’s Team when it toured Europe for eleven games and then
to Canada and the USA for seventeen games. She also played for
Australia in the 1987 World Student Games.
Her big aim in 1988 was to make the Australian Team for the
1988 Seoul Olympic Games. It was a huge challenge for one so
young. After she played for Australia in games against Japan and
Canada in Australia she received the great news that she was
selected on the Australian Team for the Seoul Olympics. However
they had yet to qualify.
After playing in the Seoul Goodwill Tournament Australia played
in the 1988 Olympic Qualification Tournament, in Malaysia.
Australia played very well and qualified for the Olympic
Tournament in Seoul. Shelley was only eighteen years of age and
off to her first Olympic Games.
Australia started the Olympic tournament with a big loss to Korea
but then upset the mighty USSR, inflicting on that team their first
ever loss in Olympic competition. The Aussies went agonisingly
close to winning a medal when in the Semi-Finals they were
beaten by a point with less than a second to go by Yugoslavia.
That loss put them out of the Gold Medal game.
Unfortunately the Australian Team could not repeat their earlier
performance in the tournament and lost to the USSR in the
playoff for the Bronze medal. Fourth place at the Olympics was
an amazing result and in many ways helped all future Australian
Women’s Teams to believe that they could win a medal at World
or Olympic tournaments.
Shelley played on the Australian Women’s Youth team on a tour
to the USA and then in games against Japan in 1988. In1989
she was a member of the Australian Youth Team that travelled to
Europe for the Pre-World Youth Championship Tournament and
World Youth Championships in Spain. The Youth Team played
extremely well with Shelley a main force and claimed Australia’s
first medal (Bronze) at a World Basketball Championship. Shelley
was co-captain of the team.
Shelley (“Gorms”) was a very aggressive player 5 feet 11 inch
(181cms) guard-forward who played every moment of the
game and never gave up. She was an outstanding shooter and
defensive player. She was not recognised as a rebounder as she
was not a big player but she proved at Olympic competition and
World Championships that she was a great rebounder through
her toughness and desire to get the ball.
Shelley established an excellent career in the Australian WNBL
where she played 321 games with Melbourne East-Nunawading,
AIS, Dandenong, Sydney and Canberra. When she retired she
was the sixth in the all time games played in the WNBL. In the
WNBL she won five WNBL Championships, including three with
Nunawading. She was named as a member of the WNBL All Star
team on five occasions (1988, 1989, 1991, 1993 and1995).
One year in the WNBL she shared the scoring title with Sandy
Brondello and received the WNBL MVP award. Her career total
of 5,204 points is second on the all-time WNBL scoring list. She
was named to the WNBL 25th Anniversary Team.
Shelley Gorman (Sport the Library)
1988, 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games
5 feet 11 inch (181cm) forward and guard
Shelley Gormans basketball journey started like so many others in that a friend needed some extra players on
their team and asked young Shelley to play. As Shelley says, “I went along, loved it and the rest is history. I
started going along to watch the men play at Albert Park Stadium and remember wanting to one day play like
them.
Shelley Gorman
41
e Players | Shelley Gorman |
Shelley Gorman shoots for Australia (Basketball Australia)
1988,1996, 2000
Her feats were not confined to Australia as she played in Germany
at BTV Wuppertal with Sandy Brondello and was a stand-out
player in European basketball.
She also had a stint with the San Jose Lasers in the 1996-97 and
1997-98 seasons in the American Womens Basketball League
which no longer exists.
In 1989, the year of the Youth World Championships, Shelley also
played on the Australian Women’s Team that won the Oceania
Championships and travelled on an eleven games tour of the
USA. It was certainly a very busy year for her.
After a European tour of eleven games with the Australian
Team in 1990, Shelley was selected to play for Australia in the
1990 world championships held in Malaysia. After playing in a
warm-up tournament, the Seoul Goodwill Tournament Australia
travelled to Malaysia.
In the 1990 World Championship in Malaysia Australia finished a
highly creditable 6th.
At this time Shelley was a major player for the Australian
Women’s Team even though she had only just left the junior
ranks.
In 1990 Shelley also played for Australia in the Goodwill Games
held in Seattle, USA.
Shelley was a member of the Australian Team in 1991 in a
series against the USSR, China and Korea and on the team that
undertook a ten game tour to the USA.
In 1992 she was selected to the Australian Team for the 1992
Barcelona Olympic Games.
After playing China in a six game series in Australia and playing
Italy on the way to Spain the Australian Team played in the 1992
Olympic Qualification Tournament in Spain. Australia played
extremely well only to lose the last two games (one in overtime
to Brazil). Unfortunately the team failed to qualify for the Olympic
tournament when they were beaten on percentages by Brazil. It
was a big disappointment for Shelley and the rest of the team.
Shelley did not play for Australia in 1993.
In 1994 Australian basketball was a buzz as the Australian
Team (now called the Opals) were playing at home in the World
Championships. Shelley was selected for Opals and played
against Russia and Bulgaria in Australia before playing Brazil,
France and Canada in the Pre-Oz Games.
At the World Championships the Opals played wonderfully well
but just failed to win that first ever medal at the senior level when
they finished 4th.
In 1995 Shelley played for the Opals in the Korean Series and
on the Opals team that won the Oceania Olympic Qualification
Tournament. She then played for the Opals in the Goldmark Cup
against China, and on a tour to Europe.
The 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games were now uppermost in
Shelley’s mind. She won selection on the Opal’s Team for the
Olympics and played for the Opals in a Challenge Series against
the USA, Cuba and the Ukraine, and in pre-Olympic tournaments
in Canada and the USA.
At the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games the Opals won Australia’s
first Olympic basketball medal when they claimed the Bronze.
Shelley had two particularly high scoring games when she scored
18 points against both Cuba and the Dominican Republic. It was
a magnificent result for the Opals and Australian basketball.
The World Championships were to be played in Germany in 1998.
Shelley played for the Opals against China and the USA in that
year but she did not play on the 1998 Opals Team for the World
Championships in Germany so her next chance for glory was the
Sydney 2000 Olympics.
The Olympic build up for Sydney continued for Shelley in 1999
with games for the Opals against Cuba and Brazil. She had the
honour of captaining the Opals in two games in the five match
series against Brazil.
In 2000 Shelley played for the Opals in games against Russia
and Canada as well as in the Olympic Test Event. Shelley was
selected to the Opals Team for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Prior to the Olympics the Opals played games in Poland.
Back home in Australia Shelley played for the Opals in a game
against New Zealand, in the C7 Challenge, against the USA in
Melbourne and against Brazil in Wollongong.
The Sydney 2000 Olympics were the Opals big chance, not just for
Silver but for Gold! It was not to be as the Opals were defeated by
the USA in the Gold Medal game, however they had won Silver
in what was a magnificent performance. Shelley’s main scoring
games were nine points against Poland and ten against Senegal.
After the Sydney 2000 Olympics Shelley retired from International
Basketball. She was 31 years of age. She played one more WNBL
season after Sydney 2000 and that was with the Canberra
Capitals. She then retired from all basketball playing.
Shelley Gorman set examples of the highest order for the
generations of Opals and junior players to come. She had great
skill, was an outstanding shooter and scorer as well as defender.
She rebounded way above her size and strength. Perhaps her
greatest attribute was her determination and fierce competitive
nature. She played for Australia for fifteen years and in that time
played over 300 games for her country. She also enjoyed an
outstanding career in the WNBL and overseas.
Shelley Gorman was inducted into the Basketball Australia Hall
of Fame in 2010.
1988, 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games
5 feet 11 inch (181cm) forward and guard
chapter text here
42
1988
1988 Olympic Games
6 feet 0 inch (183cm) Forward
Maree Keogh (Maree Keogh/Basketball Australia)
At the 1978 Australian Womens Basketball Club Championships the young netball player was a very interested
spectator. She was a NSW State Under 17 Netball representative player and was at the Championships as a
member of the Sutherland Womens basketball team. She had played little basketball and she was intrigued by
watching Australian representative basketball player Pat Mickan from the Adelaide team Sturt. “Wow! She was
really a great basketball player. She made the All Star Team and she was the first player to inspire me to play
basketball seriously,” recalls Maree White the young netball player. Maree used that inspiration to be selected on
the Australian Womens Olympic Basketball Team with Mickan in 1988.
Maree Bernadette White was born June 7th 1960 in Darlinghurst,
NSW. She played very little basketball as a junior. Her sport was
netball which she played as a representative player with the
Sutherland (Sydney) Association. As a thirteen year old Maree
had one season of social basketball with a few netball friends,
but preferred netball at that time. She was a defender in netball
and represented Sutherland Netball from age eleven through to
sixteen. In 1977 she was selected to the NSW Under 17 Netball
Team to play in the Australian Championships.
Higher School Certificate studies at St Patrick’s College
Sutherland became Maree’s priority in 1978 and she played no
basketball or netball that year except for some social netball.
In 1979, Maree under the encouragement of Sutherland
Basketball Coaches Dianne and Trevor Cook started back with
basketball and though she had played little basketball she was
selected as a member of the Sutherland Women’s Team to play
at the Australian Club Championships. “I was very raw, but they
wanted to expose me to that level of basketball,” Maree recalls.
The next year 1979 Maree played less netball and more basketball.
She had the inspiration from Pat Mickan. “I also needed a break
from netball, it had been a lot of hard work and to some extent
overkill” says Maree. “I enjoyed the change to basketball and
never looked back to netball at the elite level.
She played another year of basketball at Sutherland under Coach
Terry Williams and then the next year moved (along with Karen
Dalton) to the Bankstown Club to be coached by Robbie Cadee
who was to become the Australian Coach in 1985.
Maree was selected to her first NSW State Team in 1979 when she
was a senior having not played any junior representation at the
State level. She played for NSW from 1979 to 1982, winning the
Australian Championships in 1980. “Bankstown was a turning point
in my career. I loved it! Everything was so good...the coaching, the
support, the organisation within the club and my teammates it was
just great,” recalls Maree. It was during this period that Maree was
selected in NSW teams to tour Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Bulgaria.
Bankstown played in the newly formed Women’s National
Basketball League (WNBL) and in 1982 played against St Kilda
in the WNBL Grand-Final where they were defeated. The Club
did finish the year on a high note when they won the Australian
Club Championships.
In 1983 Maree went to Melbourne and played for one year at
the St Kilda Club under Coach Bill Palmer. By her own admission,
“It was not a great year playing for me and I really missed the
Bankstown connection. In 1984 I didn’t play any basketball and
just enjoyed living in Melbourne. I moved back to Sydney at the
end of 1984 with my fiance Damian Keogh and had a think about
what I wanted to do with my basketball.
What she wanted to do was to play more basketball and be a part
of the Australian Team. She had been an Australian Squad player
in 1981 and 1982 but was not selected to tour. “In 1985 I got
stuck into basketball again and re-joined Bankstown with Robbie
Cadee. Robbie was a huge influence on my career. He put a lot of
time into my game and helped me believe that I could play at the
highest level internationally,” credits Maree.
Maree’s first representation with the Australian Team was for the
1986 World Championships in the Soviet Union. Australia found
the going tough and gained 9th place. She remembers, “The
World Championships were a great learning experience. The
conditions were tough, the food terrible and the basketball a real
challenge. It was my first tour with the Australian team and along
with Michelle Timms we were the rookies. I clearly remember
‘Timmsy’ (Michele Timms) and me sitting down the bench and
at times we were so nervous we didn’t want to go on. She was
subbed in first and then I joined her about three minutes later.
We laugh about that today.
Maree toured to the USA (eleven games) and Europe (eleven
games) with Australia in 1987.
In 1988 after a game for Australia against Japan and a series
against Canada in Australia, Maree was selected on the
Australian Women’s Team for the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.
The Australian Team for the 1988 Olympic Games was announced
at a press conference. “There was no phone call or anything like
| e Players | Maree Keogh (nee White)
Maree Keogh (nee White)
43
e Players | Maree Keogh (nee White) |
1988
1988 Olympic Games
6 feet 0 inch (183cm) Forward
that we just heard it announced when everyone else heard it via
the media,” says Maree.
By this time Maree and Damian Keogh were married and there was
great pride all round for both families as Damian was also selected
for the Men’s Basketball Team for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. They
would be there as husband and wife. “It was special...very special
when Damian and I both made the team,” says Maree.
However there was still one major hurdle for Maree and the
Australian Team and that was the1988 Olympic Qualification
Tournament in Malaysia. In preparation for the Qualification
Tournament Australia played in the Seoul Goodwill Tournament
and in a tournament in Riga, Latvia.
Australia played well in Malaysia and qualified for the 1988
Olympic Games.
In the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games Australia got off to a bad start
when they lost heavily to Korea. They then defeated the Soviet
Union in a massive upset. The loss by the Soviets was their first
in Olympic history.
The Australians played Yugoslavia in the Semi-Finals only to lose
by one point when the opposition scored a fluke basket on the
buzzer. But for that basket they would have been in the playoff
for the Gold Medal!
“I was so gutted when we lost that game,” Maree recalls. “That
pit in my stomach didn’t go away for days. I can still feel it and
every-time I watch a team on television losing an important game
and sitting down with their heads in their hands. I can remember
how I felt in 1988.
Australia now had to play the USSR again, this time for the Bronze
medal They lost that game and had to settle for an exceptional
4th place in the 1988 Olympic Games.
After the 1988 Seoul Olympics Maree decided that she wanted
to move along in other directions and retired from sport. She had
taught in primary school since 1982 and decided she needed
a change. She loved travel and became a Flight Attendant
with QANTAS until her first daughter Maddison was born. Her
involvement in basketball from that time was as a mother and
also very much as support for her husband Damian who was to
go on and play for the Sydney Kings in the NBL and for Australia
at the 1992 Olympic Games (he played in three Olympics Games
1984, 1988 and 1992).
Maree Keogh (White) had made the late change from a netball
career to basketball and her just reward was to play for her
country in basketball at an Olympic Games something she could
never have done in netball. It was worth the change!
Maree Keogh practising for St. Kilda basketball Club (M. Keogh)
chapter text here
44
1988
| e Players | Debbie Slimmon
Debra “Debbie” Slimmon was born 3rd April 1967, in Melbourne, Victoria. She was the elder of twin girls and
lived in the country towns of Malmsbury and Kyneton.
She first started playing basketball in the Under 14 Junior competition in Kyneton for the Wildcats Basketball
Club. She was an outstanding junior player in the Kyneton Basketball Association and played with the Wildcats
Senior Women in the A grade Division when she was fifteen years of age.
In her junior basketball playing days she was influenced by her parents and her coaches Geoff Watts, Alan Smith
and Alan Mathison. “My parents Bill and Barbara Slimmon had an enormous influence on my basketball
career. e support, encouragement, dedication and selfless hours of driving me to training and games
were absolutely incredible. Without them I doubt I would have achieved representing Australia,” says Debbie.
Debbie was spotted by referees from Melbourne and asked to
try out for the Eltham Wildcats Basketball Club Under 18 team
which she did and she was selected to the team. The drive to
Eltham back in those days was ninety minutes from Kyneton.
She continued playing in Kyneton in both the Junior and
Senior competitions, whilst still playing Under 18’s with Eltham
Wildcats.
Her first Victorian State team was with the Under 18 Victorian
Metro Team under Coach Ray Tomlinson. She had previously
tried out for the Victorian Country Under 18 Team but was
unsuccessful. Debbie played on the Victorian Metro Women’s
Team that won the 1984 Under 18 Australian Championships
which were in Adelaide. She then went on to represent Vic Metro
in the Under 20 Team, again with Ray Tomlinson as coach.
“Ray Tomlinson was the most influential coach of my basketball
career. He spent many hours training me individually as a player.
Ray taught me the key fundamentals of the game to become the
key centre player that I needed to be,” says Debbie.
Debbie was dedicated, had a passion for the game and was
always a team player.
As she was 6 feet (183cms) tall Debbie always played Centre
but often against taller opponents. As a result she had to play
strongly, be physical and learn how to play position basketball,
especially when blocking out on rebounds. The majority of her
points came from close to the basket, and rebounding became
her forte.
In 1985 Debbie won a basketball scholarship to the Australian
Institute of Sport (AIS). Her first Australian selection came that
year when she was selected to play for the Australian Women’s
Youth Team for a match against Athletes in Action USA.
She then represented Australia at the Women’s Youth (Under
21) World Championships held in Colorado Springs USA. It was
her second time travelling overseas and she recalls that she
was excited about travelling to the USA. The team coached by
her mentor Ray Tomlinson gained 6th place....... an outstanding
result for our first ever Junior /Youth Women’s Team at a World
Championship. On that team Debbie played alongside other
notable players such as Sandy Brondello, Nina Cass, Shelley
Gorman, Gaylene McKay, Michele Timms and Samantha Russell.
At the AIS Debbie played with the AIS in the Women’s National
Basketball League (WNBL) and toured to Taiwan. She also
thrived on the daily coaching and expertise of Brendan Flynn
and Jenny Cheesman. Debbie comments, “The AIS scholarship
was the opportunity of a lifetime for a country kid from Victoria.
It was beyond all my expectations. The coaches were great,
very knowledgable, dedicated and provided me with wonderful
experiences, opportunities and life lessons. The AIS had an
enormous effect on my basketball career. I learnt developmental
skills I never knew. The AIS gave me perspective and direction
toward my future in basketball. I will forever be grateful.
After the one year with the AIS Debbie returned to Melbourne
to play with the Melbourne Tigers Basketball Club under the
coaching of Sandra and Ray Tomlinson, who had mentored her
through her early career.
She then moved to the Coburg Club so that she could play in
the WNBL. “After many wonderful years with the Melbourne
Tigers, in what was a very difficult decision for me, I transferred
to Coburg (WNBL team) to further my career and play in the
WNBL,” recalls Debbie.
Her coaches at Coburg were Steve Brehney and Tammy Good.
After several seasons with Coburg she transferred to the Bulleen
Boomers under coaches Paul Deacon, Tammy Good and Lori Chizik.
In 1990 and 1992 Debbie was named the Most Valuable Player
(MVP) for the WNBL while playing for the Bulleen Boomers and
she was named to the WNBL All Star Five in 1988, 1989 and 1990.
After the World Women’s Youth Championships in 1985 Debbie’s
next national selection was to the Australian Senior Womens
Team in 1987 when she was chosen to tour with the team on an
arduous seventeen games tour of Canada and the USA. This tour
was an immense experience for Debbie and the whole team as
the tour was tough and long.
1988 Olympic Games
6 feet 0 inch (183cm) Forward and Centre
Debbie Slimmon playing in the WNBL
(The Basketballer Magazine)
Debbie Slimmon
45
1988
Debbie Slimmon (11) playing against Yugoslavia.
(The Basketballer Magazine)
e Players | Debbie Slimmon |
Debbie was now in the mix to be selected for Australia for the
1988 Seoul Olympic Games.
In 1988 Debbie played for Australia in a match against Japan
and then in five matches against the touring Canadian National
Team. Debbies dreams came through when she was then named
to the Australian Women’s Team for the 1988 Seoul Olympic
Games. However Australia still had to qualify.
The Australian Team departed for Korea and played in the Seoul
Goodwill Tournament before travelling to Malaysia for the 1988
Olympic Qualification Tournament.
That tournament was a tough one with many teams participating
and only the top six nations going on to the Seoul Olympics.
The Australians played very well and qualified sixth in the
tournament. Debbie was going to the Olympic Games.
At the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games Australia finished 4th under
Coach Robbie Cadee. This was a brilliant performance for the
Aussies to finish 4th in the world. The team started slowly in the
tournament with a heavy loss to hosts Korea but then bounced
back to cause a huge upset by defeating the USSR who had
never lost a game in Olympic competition. Australia missed out
on at least a Silver Medal when they lost by one point (with
0.8 seconds remaining in the game) to Yugoslavia in the Semi-
Final game to advance to the Gold Medal game. They were then
defeated by the USSR in the Bronze Medal playoff game.
Debbie remembers, “This was the highlight and pinnacle of my
career....... participating in an Olympic Games. Representing
Australia and participating in the Opening and Closing
Ceremonies was a memorable experience for me as was living in
the Olympic Village. I was in awe of all the athletes from all the
different countries as I was only 21 years old and couldn’t believe
my achievement.
After the 1988 Olympics, Debbie continued to play in the
Australian WNBL until her retirement from playing basketball in
1997. She played 199 WNBL games and was the all time 8th
highest average WNBL points scorer per game at 17.0 points per
game. Although only playing 199 games (others have played over
300) she is the second all time WNBL offense rebounder with a
total of 961 and she is the 5th all time defensive rebounder with
a total of 1,335 and 3rd all time rebounder with 2,296. Debbie
averaged a staggering 11.5 rebounds per game to be the leading
WNBL average all time leader (over 100 games). She scored 36
points in a single WNBL game for Bulleen.
In 1995 she travelled to Europe to play professional basketball in
the European League for Wurzburg Club in Germany.
When she arrived in Wurzburg the Club was playing in Division
2 but with Debbie and a Finnish player on the team Wurzburg
qualified for the German First Division.
Debbie relates that travelling overseas to play in Europe had a
tremendous impact on her life. “Taking leave from work, leaving
behind my family and friends to play professional basketball
overseas certainly was one of the highlights of my career to
this day and I remember it fondly! It was the coldest winter
on record in Germany, it snowed for six months and was minus
fifteen degrees most days! The European League was physical
and a fast pace. We played several games a week and trained
every day. Every weekend the team travelled throughout Europe.
It was a wonderful experience to live in another country and play
professional basketball throughout Europe. Debbie played in
Germany in the 1995 and 1996 seasons.
In terms of her Australian representation, after the 1988 Seoul
Olympics Debbie played on the Australian Team that won the
1989 Oceania Championships which were held in New Zealand.
Later in the year she played for Australia on what was to be her
final tour. This was a thirteen match tour of the USA.
Debbie surprised many by her retirement from International
Basketball in 1989 as she was only 22 years of age. She continued
to play basketball at the elite domestic level until she was thirty
years of age.
Debbie Slimmon was an outstanding player for her country and
for her Clubs. She always gave her uppermost for the team, was
a powerful rebounder, had a tremendous ability to run the floor
and was a heavy scorer around the basket. She was above all a
dedicated team player.
Debbie Slimmon had a short international career by her own
choice. She was a member of the 1988 Australian Women’s
Basketball Team that demonstrated in 1988 to the world that
Australia was an elite nation in women’s world basketball. The
breakthrough in 1988 by Debbie and the Australian Women’s
Team laid the foundations for excellence for the National
Women’s Team for the next thirty years.
1988 Olympic Games
6 feet 0 inch (183cm) Forward and Centre
chapter text here
46
| e Players | Michele Timms
1988,1996, 2000
Michele Timms (The Basketballer Magazine)
The incident was typical of Michele Timms’s competitive nature,
aggression, leadership and passion for the Green and Gold
uniform.
Michele Margaret Timms was born June 28th 1965 in Melbourne,
Victoria. She started playing basketball at her local primary
school Belle Vue Primary School. Basketball was one of the main
sports played in the back yard by Michele and her six brothers.
Michelle credits her mother and father as being the greatest
influence on her life and her basketball. Her early basketball
coaches at the elite level at Bulleen were the likes of Ivan Manzie,
Trevor Cook, Kingley Gibson and Maris Polis all of whom Michele
credits with playing a big part in shaping her game.
The Junior Club Bulleen Templestowe Basketball Club was
where Michele grew up on and off the court. Michele recalls,
“Growing up in the Bulleen area, all I wanted to do was play for
the Boomers (Bulleen) and have the chance to wear one of those
special warm up tops that were only worn by Championships
players…to this day I remember the try outs and I remember the
disappointment at not making a team at bottom age under 12.
“Not only did I play all my junior basketball at Bulleen.....it was
also where I learnt about life. There is no greater community to
be part of than a basketball community…...working the canteen,
officiating, coaching.......my teen years were spent at the Club,”
says Michele.
She adds, “Bulleen gave me so many opportunities as a youngster
growing up and as a senior it is that reason that drives me back to
where it all began. I feel I am indebted to the Boomer Club and
community for the way my career eventuated.
Michele’s senior basketball career took off when she joined the
Nunawading Spectres and teamed up with Coach Tom Maher
and Robyn Gull (Maher).
In 1985 she was selected on the Australian Women’s Youth
Team which after playing Athletes in Action and in the Calgary
International Tournament and placed 6th at the Women’s World
Youth Championships held in Colorado Springs, USA.
In 1986 Michele was a member of the Nunawading Spectres
team that won the Women’ National Basketball League (WNBL)
Championships.
In that same year (1986) she played on her first Australian
Women’s Team when she was a member of the team that
competed at the 1986 World Championships in the USSR. The
team finished in 9th position. At 21 years of age her basketball
career was taking off.
In 1987 Michele toured Europe for eleven games with the
Australian Team and was a member of the team that played
seventeen games in Canada and the USA. That same year she
was a member of the Australian Universities Team at the World
Student Games in Yugoslavia.
For Michele selection for Australia for the 1988 Olympic Games
was her major personal aim. She played for Australia against
Japan and Canada and was selected to the Olympic team for the
1988 Seoul Olympic Games. However Australia still had to qualify
for the Games.
After playing in the Seoul Goodwill Tournament and then the Pre-
Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Malaysia Australia qualified
for the Olympic Games in Seoul.
Australia astounded the basketball world by making it through
to the Olympic Semi-Finals where they had a one point loss to
Yugoslavia for the right to go to the Gold Medal game. On the
way to the Semi-Finals Australia defeated the USSR and in doing
so gave the USSR their first defeat in Olympic Games history. In
the Bronze Medal game against the USSR Australia could not
repeat its previous victory over the USSR and finished 4th. It was
a magnificent effort.
After the 1988 Olympics Michele made history when she
became the first Australian player to play First Division women’s
basketball in Europe when she went to Germany to play with the
Lotus München Club. While in Germany, she got the chance to
play alongside Marlies Askamp, who would later also play with
her in the WNBA with the Phoenix Mercury.
Michele had an amazing career in the WNBL. Over her fifteen
year 285 game career in the WNBL Michele was named an
1988, 1996, and 2000 Olympic Games
5 feet 5 inch (165cm) point guard
e scene was the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and in the Quarter Finals the Australian Womens Basketball
Team (Opals) was leading Russia 73-70.
e Opals had the ball from the centreline with five seconds remaining in the match. ey lined up across the
centreline knowing they had to get the ball in play. e Russian star point guard Routkouskaiai stood in tightly
against the Opals feisty guard Michele Timms in an attempt to stop her from getting the ball and hopefully to
steal the pass. e Russian tried to push Timms over but Timms held her ground and they both toppled down
to the floor with the Russian landing on top of Timms. A wrestle on the floor ensued. Australia inbounded
the ball to Brondello who was fouled. Timms quickly bounced up and pointed to the scoreboard and let the
Russian know in no uncertain terms that the Opals were going to win the game. e Opals won 74-70.
Michele Timms
47
e Players | Michele Timms |
Michele Timms (Sport the Library)
1988,1996, 2000
All Star seven times and played on five WNBL Championship
winning teams and in seven Grand Finals. She is 7th all time
WNBL in points scored (3,953), 5th all time three point shooting
percentage at 44%, 2nd all time in assists (1,070), 3rd all time in
steals (581) and 7th all time in fouls (818).
In February 2000 Michele was named to the WNBL 25th
Anniversary Team.
Michele played for Australia against Japan in 1989, on the team
that won the Oceania Championships (as Captain), and led the
team on a thirteen game tour of the USA.
In 1990 she captained Australia on an eleven match tour of
Europe, in the Goodwill Games in Seattle, in the Seoul Goodwill
Tournament and in the 1990 World Championships held in
Malaysia. Australia finished a very good 6th in the World
Championships.
Michele played for Australia in 1991 in the USSR/China/Korea
Series held in Australia and on the twelve match tour to the USA.
In 1992 she played for Australia in the six game series against
China in Australia and one game in Italy before playing in the
1992 Olympic Qualification Tournament in Spain. The Australians
lost their last two games in that tournament (one in overtime
against Brazil) and did not qualify (on percentages) for the
Olympic Games in Barcelona.
Michele was a member of the Australian Team that toured to
China in 1993. In preparation for the 1994 World Championships
to be held in Australia she played with the National Team (now
known as the Opals) against Japan, Russia, Bulgaria, and in the
Pre-OZ94 Games. The Opals played outstanding basketball in the
1994 Women’s World Basketball Championships but again were
denied a medal when they came a highly credible 4th. Michele
was named the 1994 Basketball Australia International Player of
the Year.
1995 was busy year for Michele as she played for the Opals
against China and in the Oceania 1996 Olympic Qualification
Tournament before touring to Europe.
In 1996 Michele, who by now was a vital cog in the team, played
for the Opals in the World basketball Challenge in Australia
against the USA, Cuba and the Ukraine. The Opals played in two
warm-up tournaments in Canada and the USA before entering
the 1996 Olympic Village in Atlanta.
At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Michele played heroically and her
clashes with the Soviet players in the lead in tournament and
at the Olympics themselves made headlines all over Australia as
the “pocket rocket” refused to back down to the Soviet players.
The attention Michele received from the opposition simply
reinforced how vital she was to the Opals at this stage in her
career. Michele had two huge games against the USA when
1988, 1996, and 2000 Olympic Games
5 feet 5 inch (165cm) point guard
48
1988,1996, 2000
Michele Timms
| e Players | Michele Timms
she scored 26 points in the preliminaries and 27 points in the
semi-final when the Opals were defeated. However the Opals
regrouped and defeated the Ukraine to win Australias first ever
Olympic Medal (Bronze). Finally Michele and the Opals had that
elusive Olympic medal.
Michele was named the 1996 Basketball Australia International
Women’s Player of the Year.
In 1997 Michele was the first foreign player selected to play in
the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) when she
was selected by the Phoenix Mercury. She played in the Finals
with the Mercury in 1998, losing to the Houston Comets. Michele
came within inches of giving the Mercury their first WNBA
title that year. With the Mercury leading 1-0 in the series and
needing only one more win for the WNBA Championship, Game
Two was tied at 66 all with three seconds to go. Michele took a
three point shot that bounced off the rim to miss. Ultimately, the
Comets won that game 74-69 in overtime, and then the WNBA
Championship in Game Three.
Michele played for the Opals in 1997 in a Series against Russia
that began the build up for coming World Championships. In
1998 Michele played for the Opals against Japan, in the Grand
prix of Slovakia, and the Portugal Tournament before playing in
the 1998 World Championships in Germany.
The Opals continued their outstanding world ranking
performances when they won the Bronze Medal in Germany.
Michele played for the Opals in 1998 against the USA in the
Goldmark Cup. In 1999 Michele captained the Opals in the
Maher Cup against Brazil, in the US Olympic Cup and in the USA
Invitational.
By the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Michele at 35 years of age
was the veteran of the Opals team. Her task was to get selected
as the new band of young guards challenged her for a position
on the Opals.
She chose to stay in the USA and prepare for the Sydney 2000
Olympic Games by playing the 2000 WNBA season. For Timms
Sydney 2000 was going to be her swan song in the Green and
Gold and she had high hopes of leading the team to a Gold Medal
in her fairy-tail ending.
“Unfortunately eight weeks prior to the Olympics, I came crashing
down on my knee in a WNBA game. I flew home from the USA to
try and get the knee right for the most important Olympics of my
life. The news from my surgeon Dr Young wasn’t good. At best
with rehab I would be able to limp into the Olympics and then
need further surgery after it. My dreams of the fairytale ending
were shattered. I fell into a dark depression and I didn’t want to
go to the Olympics if I couldn’t be the player I was. Deep down I
wanted the team to take a younger player in my place. However
Coach Tom Maher insisted the spot was mine to fill on one leg
or not... he said the team needed my leadership and experience.
So I went to the 2000 Olympics.....and with the greatest honour
of all, the captaincy,” says Michele.
Michele led the Opals in the C7 Series, against the USA in
Melbourne and against Brazil in Wollongong prior to the Games.
The Opals played brilliantly and did not lose a game during the
Olympic Tournament until being defeated by the USA for the Gold
Medal. The Opals had won their first Silver Medal and had done
Australia proud.
Although it was not the fairytale ending I had hoped for, I was
Captain of something very special that will always be one of my
career highlights,” states Michele.
In 2001, Michele announced her retirement from the WNBA
and immediately joined the Phoenix Mercury’s Television
broadcasting crew, a job which she held for that season. She
was then seconded onto the coaching staff as an assistant of
the Mercury. Years later (2005) she became Australian Carrie
Graff ‘s assistant when Carrie took over the Mercury Head Coach
position.
Michele averaged 4.6 points and 4.0 assists per game with the
Phoenix Mercury; her highest scoring average in one season
being 12.1 points per game in 1997. On August 7th 2002, her
number ‘7’ jersey became the first to be retired by the Phoenix
Mercury, and only the 2nd jersey ever retired by the WNBA. Upon
49
1988,1996, 2000
e Players | Michele Timms |
her retirement, she was the Mercury’s career leader in assists.
Michele was a member of the Opals Team at the 2002 World
Championships in China when the Opals won the Bronze Medal.
Michele’s international career with the Opals included over 270
games, three Olympics Games (1 Silver and 1 Bronze Medal), and
four World Championships (2 Bronze Medals).
Michele Timms was one of the most popular and successful
basketball players of her era. Her personality, feistiness, drive,
intensity and team passion mixed with flare, ability to score, pass
and play aggressive defence made her a favourite with team-
mates and fans. She was a pathfinder for Australian Women’s
Basketball in Europe and the WNBA and was a significant force
and factor in the Opals rise to a world power in basketball.
Opals teammate Sandy Brondello says of Michele, “Michele was
one of the best players that I played with. She played with so
much passion and competitiveness. She made players around
her better with her determination. Her leadership was something
special.
After her retirement from playing, Michele continued her love
affair with basketball as a media commentator and coach. She
has been an Assistant Coach in the WNBA, WNBL, NBL, with the
Chinese Womens National Basketball Team and with the Opals.
She was an Assistant Coach with the Opals at the 2012 London
Olympic Games.
She was awarded the Basketball Australia Merit Award in 1991.
In 2004 she was named to the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
Michele was elected to the Basketball Australia Hall of Fame
in 2006 and in 2008 to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in
Knoxville, Tennessee. In 2013 Michele Timms became the first
female Australian basketball player to be nominated for the
international basketball body (FIBA) Basketball Hall of Fame.
Michele on defence for Australia (Basketball Australia)
chapter text here
50
1996, 2000
1996, 2000 Olympic Games
6 feet 1 inch (185cm) Forward
| e Players | Carla Boyd (Porter)
Carla Maree Boyd was born in Wynyard, Tasmania on 31st
October 1975 to Bernice and William Boyd,
Carla’s sisters Rachel and Terri-Lee played quite a lot of different
sports so it was only natural that she wanted to play sport when
she was old enough. “My height was an advantage from an early
age but my co-ordination needed work so a few dance lessons
later that was taken care of,” says Carla.
In netball and basketball Carla dominated at both junior and
senior levels. Weekends were spent playing both games as well
as Tuesday night playing senior inter-town basketball (NWBU) for
Wynyard Wildcats. Most other days after school were training
sessions or school competitions and a little bit of volleyball
thrown in to help out her sister’s team.
Between the ages of thirteen and fourteen both her netball and
basketball coaches insisted on her making a choice between the
two sports. Basketball won out. Over the next few years there
was a lot of training and awards. The junior team she played
with in Wynyard were exceedingly strong. All the girls were
champions with one player in particular, Jodi Allen, going on to
play with Tassie Islanders in the Women’s National Basketball
League (WNBL) as did her sister Melissa. The Allen family was
a big influence in Carlas life when growing up as Cherie Allen
(now Hawkins) was and still is her best friend and numerous days
were spent in their backyard playing basketball.
Selection followed for Carla in the State Junior Teams and she
played for Tasmania at the National Championships. Coach Connie
Vanderfeen was a big influence in Carla’s Tasmanian State career
in the early days of Under 14 and Under 16’s. Other coaches and
players of influence in her early Basketball career were Lynn Allen,
Gill Davis (now Lee), Sally Dick and Willie Joseph.
The AIS coaches noticed Carla in the U14 Australian
Championships and she was asked if she was interested in a
scholarship at the AIS. At this stage it was her goal to go to the
AIS and eventually play for Australia at the Olympic Games. The
AIS gave her the application form and she filled it out but was
rejected that year (she would have only been fourteen). She was
re-assured by the AIS coaches that they would look at her the
next year and encouraged her to re-apply, and made suggestions
on what skills she had to work on.
Carla says that she nearly didn’t re-apply the next year for the
AIS and she left it until the last minute to do so. On the day of
her 15th birthday Coach Phil Brown from the AIS rang with the
news that she had been accepted on scholarship for one year.
She stayed for three years 1991, 1992, 1993. During those three
years she played with the AIS in the WNBL.
Carla first represented Australia when she was chosen to play
for the Australian Junior team in the 1992 William Jones Cup
in Taiwan. At the end of that year she travelled with the Junior
Team to Europe where they played twelve games.
In 1993 she played further games for the Australian Youth Team
against the Japanese B team, Athletes in Action, the Ukraine
senior team and in the Malaysian Cup.
The third year at the AIS (1993) was difficult and challenging for
Carla. She was studying Year Twelve at school, was selected on
the Australian Team for the Youth World Championships held in
Seoul, Korea, and on the Australian Women’s Team.
She debuted for the Australian Team when she played against
the touring Ukraine National Team. At that stage at seventeen
years and four months of age she was the youngest player ever
to be selected to play with the Australian Women’s Team.
The Australian Women’s Youth team (Gems) became the first
Australian Basketball team (men or women) to win a FIBA
international medal when they won the Gold Medal at the 1993
Youth World Championships held in Korea.
Carla had a number of Clubs interested in her to play with them in
the WNBL when she left the AIS. She decided to join the Adelaide
Lightning Club. Jan Stirling (future Australian Coach) was the
Adelaide Coach. She was tough but had Carlas respect. Jan
taught me to be tougher and stronger and got my fitness levels
to the highest they could be. I feel that this fitness (of the whole
team) is the main reason why Adelaide Lightning was the dominant
WNBL team of the 1990’s when it won WNBL Championships in
Carla Boyd (C. Boyd)
Carla Boyd (Porter)
A young Carla Boyd decided that when she left the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) she needed to go where
she would be challenged the most. She chose Adelaide and their coach Jan Stirling. Carla recalls, “I guess the
big turning point for me for making an impact on my role with the Australian Team was my decision to come
to Adelaide after the AIS. I knew that Jan Stirling was an amazing, or scary depending on whom you speak
to, fitness coach. So I decided that I would refuse all the offers I had around the Womens National Basketball
League (WNBL) for some serious money for an eighteen year old and to go to Adelaide. I still remember the
first sand-hill training session we had and Jan matched me with Rachael Sporn for the time trial. Lets just say
my dinner from the night before came up after the second lap and it was then I actually questioned my decision
to come to Adelaide to be trained by Jan! But I realised that I was lacking in fitness and the itensity to push
through the wall when things got hard and Jan was able to give me help with all that. is was the turning point
for me in terms of my future on the Australian Womens Team.
51
e Players | Carla Boyd (Porter) |
1996, 2000
1996, 2000 Olympic Games
6 feet 1 inch (185cm) Forward
1994, 1995, 1996 and 1998,” says Carla with emphasis.
In her WNBL career Carla was to play 181 WNBL games. She
played at the AIS (1991-93) and for the Adelaide Lightning (1994-
98 and the 2000/01season). She was named to the WNBL All
Star Team in 1998.
In 1994 Carla played for the Australian Women’s Team (now called
the Opals) against the touring Chinese National Team. In 1995 she
played for the Opals against the Korean National Team, against
China in the Goldmark Cup, and toured Europe for six games.
Carla was selected to the Opals team to play in the 1996 Atlanta
Olympic Games. She had achieved her aim set a number of years
ago when she was at the AIS and when she moved to Adelaide.
After playing in the Skill World Challenge (Australia) and two Pre-
Olympic Tournaments (Canada and the USA) the Opals played
in the Atlanta Olympic Games. The team played exceptionally
well, endured some heart-stopping games and went on to win
Australias first ever Olympic Basketball medal when they won
Bronze. This achievement was a “groundbreaker” for the Opals and
set the standard for future Opals teams for the next twenty years.
Carla’s International career went ahead in leaps and bounds in
the next two years. In 1997 she played for the Opals in the series
against Russia (in Australia), in the Oceania World Qualification
Tournament, the USQ Invitational Series in the USA and in the V1
Golden Cup Invitational in Brazil.
In 1998 Carla played for the Opals against Brazil, in the Japan
Women’s Basketball Festival, the Grand Prix of Slovakia and
a tournament in Portugal which led into the 1998 World
Championships which were held in Germany.
The Opals won the Bronze Medal in Germany and re-confirmed
their status amongst the best in the world. Carla was the top
scorer for the Opals in the World Championships. She finished
the 1998 year for the Opals with the four match Maher Cup
Series against China. She was named the 1998 Basketball
Australia Women’s International Player of the Year.
In 1998 Carla was recruited to the US Women’s National
Basketball Association (WNBA) by the Detroit Shock. “It was
sheer luck. I was seen by the Detroit Shock coaching staff on
video footage of my WNBL and Australian Opals teammate
Rachael Sporn. The Shock staff saw me on the video and decided
they had to have number twelve, who was me,” recalls Carla.
Carla then played with Detroit Shock in the WNBA in 1998, in
1998/99 with Wuppertal (Germany), in 1999 with the Detroit Shock,
in 1999/00 with the Adelaide Lightning, in 2001 with the Detroit
Shock, in 2001/02 with Tarbes (France), in 2003 with Townsville
in the WNBL (three games), and in 2003/04-2004/05 with Tarbes.
Carla’s sights in the period from 1998-2000 were firmly set on
selection for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. In 1999 she played
for the Opals against Cuba (Maher Cup) and Brazil (Goldmark
Cup), in the US Olympic Cup and the USA Invitational. In 2000
she played for the Opals against Russia (Maher Cup), in the
Olympic Test Event, against Canada (Goldmark Cup), on a tour to
France and Poland, against New Zealand in Australia, in the C7
Sport International Challenge, against the USA in Melbourne and
against Brazil in Wollongong.
It was a tremendous build-up for Carla and the Opals. Now they
were ready for the Sydney Olympics themselves.
The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games was the tournament where
the Opals believed they could win their first ever Gold Medal
in a FIBA International Competition. By this stage Carla was a
lynchpin in Coach Tom Maher’s plans as she was a permanent
starter on the team, was a consistent scorer, strong rebounder
and by now was considered one of the strongest defenders on
the team. Carla was often given the task of defending one of the
super-stars of the opposition and she did this with great success
while maintain high standards in other aspects of her game.
The Opals did not win the Gold Medal in Sydney 2000 but they
won their first ever Silver Medal in basketball at a Women’s
World or Olympic Championship.
Carla’s international basketball career was far from over as she
toured with the Opals to France in 2001 and that same year
played for the Opals in the Oceania 2002 World Championships
Qualification Tournament.
In 2002 she played for the Opals at the 2002 World Championships
where the Opals won a Bronze Medal.
In 2003 Carla played with the Opals in games in Greece, Belgium
and France. This European tour was the last time that she was to
play for the Opals.
In 2006 after her stints with Tarbes in France Carla retired from
basketball because of major injury to her knees.
Carla sums up. “There are so many people that influence your life
when growing up but for me it was my parent’s ongoing support
and belief in me that allowed me to follow my dreams and
succeed. Also all those coaches that put their time into teaching
me all they could about basketball. They know who they are and
they touched my life forever.”
Carla Boyd played over 200 games for Australia. She won a Gold
Medal at the World Youth Championships, Bronze Medals at
two World Championships, and Bronze and Silver Medals at the
Olympic Games. She was named the 1998 Basketball Australia
International Player of the Year. She played on Championship
winning teams in the WNBL, played in the toughest Club
competition in the world.....the WNBA... and played in the
European Leagues. She had done it all.
It was all done with distinction and excellence.
Carla Boyd at the Olympic Games (Basketball Australia)
Carla Boyd on defence against Brazil (Basketball Australia)
chapter text here
52
1996, 2000
| e Players | Michelle Brogan
Michelle Kathleen Brogan was born February 8th 1973 in
Adelaide, South Australia.
“I never put my name down to play basketball my best friend did.
It was at school and she made me go. I had dreams of being a
ballet dancer. Can you see that a 6’2” girl being picked up and
thrown around?” asks Michelle.
Michelle was tall for her age and her friend was a good basketball
player and they were seen playing and were asked to go to a
holiday camp and then try out for our local Club team Noarlunga
City Tigers in Adelaide. Michelle’s friend’s mother took them
both to the tryouts, paid for both girls and they were both picked
in teams. “I made the Under12 first team and Suzanne the Under
12 seconds. I think it was because I was tall. I really didn’t have
any skills,” Michelle concludes.
Michelle thinks that one of the most fortunate things that
happened to her when she first started playing basketball was
that she had two different left handed coaches (Mrs Baker and
Darryl Crump) for about four to five years. Michelle is right
handed. “But when you have left handed coaches they make you
do everything just as well with the other hand. It stood me in
good stead throughout my career”.
This left-handed shooting ability was one of Michelle’s greatest
strengths in her career as she repeatedly stepped around
opponents near the basket to do her “little running left-hand
hooks”. This ability and skill was never better demonstrated than
in her dominant games for Australia at the 1996 Olympics against
Russia in the Quarter Final and against the Ukraine in the Bronze
Medal winning game for the Opals.
Through her junior career some of the powers that be at her
Club didn’t want Michelle to be brought on too fast, and
others wanted her to train with the Open women’s team which
contained Olympians Jenny Cheeseman, Julie Nykiel, and Donna
Quinn. “Wow what a Club to come into! I saw these Australian
players at my own Club nearly every week. You really can’t get
better than that! I’m grateful for whoever it was that held me
back. I believe they had the foresight to see that I would one day
play for our senior team and not to rush it. I was then able to
enjoy those earlier years with my own age group,says Michelle.
“In Under14s I was asked by the Under 16 State Coach to come
and try out and I made the team,” recalls Michelle.
Michelle went on to play for seven South Australian State teams
in the Australian Junior Championships. The first of these was
the Under 16 team for which she played for three years, a most
unusual performance as a few players might be selected for two
years Under 16 representation but three years was a rarity. Her
team made the National Final in1988 where they narrowly lost
to Victoria.
At the National Under 16 Championships Michelle was seen and
chosen as one of the top fourteen players in her age group at the
tournament to go to the All Australian Camp at the Australian
Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra for one weeks training in
January the following year. “I didn’t even know what the AIS
was! I couldn’t believe it! I was the youngest there at thirteen.
Once there I saw what I wanted.......a scholarship for as long as I
could,” remembers Michelle.
It wasn’t long before that scholarship came. In a most unusual
occurrence Michelle was offered a scholarship to the Australian
Institute of Sport (AIS) at the age of fourteen. At that time most
girls on scholarship came to the AIS at sixteen or seventeen years
of age.
Michelle says, “I was living at the AIS at fourteen and loving
it. I stayed for three years and would have loved more years
there. The AIS was the most inflectional part of my life. Adrian
Hurley as my guiding father, Phil Brown and Jenny Cheesman,
a fellow South Australian, as my wonderfully patient coaches.
I really never have the words to really thank or describe what
the AIS did for me. I went in a tall, unskilled but prudentially
serviceable basketball player and came out a young woman with
the basketball world at her feet!”
At the AIS Michelle demonstrated her great willingness to learn
and get better. At this stage she had reached 6’2” in height was
very versatile on the court particularly playing centre or forward,
1996 and 2000 Olympic Games
6 feet 2 inch (188cm) Forward
Michelle Brogan and Kristi Harrower (10) at the
Olympics (Basketball Australia)
e young girl was sitting on the floor right in front of the TV watching the Opening Ceremony of the
Olympic Games. She turned around to her parents (sitting behind her, telling her to get out the way because
she was blocking everyones view) and said very clearly, ‘I’m going to go to an Olympics one day, I’m going to
be right there,” pointing to the TV. Her parents just looked at her and said, “If that’s what you really want then
you go do it!” ere was never any doubt in the young girls mind that she’d get there! However at that stage
she didnt even play basketball!
Michelle Brogan
53
e Players | Michelle Brogan |
1996, 2000
had a big heart and loved to scrap for rebounds and of course a
rare ability to shoot with either hand. Her step through moves
around the basket were bamboozling senior players even at this
stage as the AIS Women’s Team played in the premier women’s
league in Australia, the Women’s National Basketball League
(WNBL). Michelle played in the WNBL for three seasons with the
AIS in 1988, 1989, and 1990.
While at the AIS she also played for South Australia in the SA
Under 16 team (1987-1988) and the Under 18 team (1989-1990)
at the Australian National Championships.
After her great years at the AIS Michelle moved back to Adelaide
to play for Noarlunga in the WNBL in 1991. The Adelaide teams
were amalgamated into the Adelaide Lightning and she spent
the next five years playing for Adelaide in the WNBL and winning
the WNBL title in 1995 and 1996.
“Shortly after leaving the AIS I had the privilege of playing a
season with Donna Brown and loved every minute of it. I would
have to say that once I left the AIS she would have been one
of my biggest influences. Her drive, endeavour, work ethic and
love for competition were infectious. I suppose you can say I
modelled parts of my game from her,” says Michelle.
In 1997 Michele moved to Sydney to play for the Sydney Flames
in the 1997 and 1998 WNBL seasons. From Sydney she moved
to Melbourne to play with the Melbourne Club in the 1999/01
WNBL season, back to Adelaide for 2001/02-2003/4 seasons and
then to Dandenong in Melbourne for the 2007/8 WNBL season.
In her long and prestigious career in Australia’s premier Women’s
League, the WNBL, Michelle’s teams won four WNBL titles
(1994, 1995, 1996 with Adelaide and 1997 with Sydney). That is
four championships in four years, with two different clubs! She
was the WNBL Youth Player of the Year in 1991, Most Valuable
Player in 1998, and a member of the WNBL All Star Five in 1992
and 1998.
She was awarded Life Membership of the WNBL in the 2003/04
season.
Michelle’s international career commenced with her selection
to the Australian Youth Team to tour the USA in 1990. In 1991
she played with the Youth Team in the first Olympic Youth Rally.
The next year she played with the Youth Team in the Oceania
Qualification Series, in the William Jones Cup in Taiwan and
against the South West All Stars from the USA before finishing
the year with a tour to Europe. She debuted for the Australian
National Team in 1992 in a six match series against China. She
was nineteen years of age.
In 1993 Michelle continued with the Youth team and played
against Japan, Korea, Athletes in Action, in the Malaysian Cup,
and against the Ukraine National Team. She also played for the
1996 and 2000 Olympic Games
6 feet 2 inch (188cm) Forward
Michelle Brogan (12) in the WNBA (Phoenix Mercury)
54
| e Players | Michelle Brogan
Australian Women’s Team against the Ukraine. She was part of
history when she was a member (Co-captain) of the Australian
Women’s Youth team that won Australias first ever Gold Medal
in a World Championship when Australia won the 1993 World
Youth Championships which were held in Korea.
The year was rounded out for Michelle when she toured China
with the Australian Women’s Team.
The task now for Michelle was to win selection on the Australian
Team for the 1994 World Championships that were to be held in
Australia.
Michelle played for the Australian Team (now called the Opals)
in series in Australia against Japan, Russia and Bulgaria, then in
the Pre-OZ94 Games (against Brazil, USA, France and Canada).
Michelle was selected on the Opals team for the 1994 World
Women’s Championships. The Opals played great basketball in
front of their home crowds and finished in 4th position.
Matches in 1995 against Korea, in the Oceania Olympic
Qualification Tournament, the Goldmark Cup against China and a
tour to Europe completed Michelle’s year with the Opals.
The 1996 Atlanta Olympics were Michelle’s target. Could she
fulfil the statement she made so many years ago at home in front
of the television?
Her dream came true when she was selected to the Opals team
for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. The Opals played in a series
against the USA, Cuba and the Ukraine in the US and then in two
pre-Olympic tournaments (Canada and the USA) before arriving
in Atlanta.
Michelle played outstanding basketball in the Olympic Basketball
Tournament and was instrumental in Australia winning its first
ever Olympic medal when they won the Bronze Medal. She had a
huge game against Russia in the Quarter Final to keep the Opals
hopes for a medal alive. Her game in the Bronze Medal Game
against the Ukraine where she top scored with nineteen points
was inspirational and played a huge part in Australia’s victory.
Michelle was named the Basketball Australia International Player
of the Year in 1995 and 1997.
In 1997 Michelle played for the Opals against Japan, Russia, in
the Oceania World Championship Qualification Tournament, in the
USQ Invitational in the USA, and in the V1 Golden Cup in Brazil.
The 1998 World Championships were looming and Michelle and
the Opals were set on proving that their medal in Atlanta was no
“flash in the pan”.
After games against Brazil in Australia, playing in the Japan
Women’s Basketball Tournament, the Grand Prix in Slovakia and
a tournament in Portugal Michelle and Opals arrived in Germany
for the 13th Women’s World Basketball Championships.
The Opals excelled once again and backed up their performance
in the Atlanta Olympic Games by once again taking a Bronze
Medal at a major championship.
In 1998 Michelle played for the Phoenix Mercury in the Women’s
National Basketball Association (WNBA) in the USA. That season
she set a WNBA record with 9 steals in one game! This feat
clearly demonstrates her great anticipation and desire.
After the 1998 WNBA season she went to play for Schio Italy but
did not finish the season as she became pregnant. She returned
to Phoenix for the 1999 season in a non-playing capacity and
then played with Phoenix in the 2000 WNBA season before
returning to Australia.
Even though she had not played for the Opals since 1998
Michelle was selected to play for the Opals in the Sydney 2000
Olympic Games.
This was a dream come true for her as she was to play an Olympic
Games in her own country in front of family and friends.
Michelle played for the Opals against New Zealand, in the C7
International Challenge, and then against the USA and Brazil
leading into the Olympic Games.
The Opals played outstanding basketball in the Sydney 2000
Olympics and won all their games except the final. The Opals
won Australia’s first ever Silver Medal at an Olympic Games.
1996, 2000
Michelle Brogan
55
e Players | Michelle Brogan |
1996, 2000
Michelle Brogan playing with the Adelaide Lightning in the WNBL
(Basketball Australia)
However Michelle’s international career was far from over. She
played and captained the Opals in the East Asia Games in 2001,
played in 2002