WHILE balancing her budding basketball career and architecture studies, Molly Mathews is hoping her debut WNBL season provides her with the blueprint for a long and successful career in the league. The 19-year-old was hand picked by coach Simon Pritchard before the start of the Bendigo Spirit’s 2015/16 campaign after standing out at the club’s inaugural development player tryouts in August.
Mathews, who hails from Ballarat, studies in Geelong and now lives in Bendigo, admitted even making the roster came as somewhat of a shock. “I went to the tryouts and spoke to Simon a bit and he had said that he wanted me to come, and I was the oldest there,” she said.
“It was still a shock when he said ‘I want you on the roster’ rather than the development spot which was all I was aiming for, if that. “It was really surprising but very exciting. Everyone, especially my family, were so excited, and that was a pretty cool moment.”
Mathews is no stranger to high level basketball, having played SEABL with her hometown Ballarat Rush for the past three years. After the whirlwind process that brought her to the club, she has already noticed the step up to the national league.
“Growing up I’ve always wanted to play a the highest level but I didn’t think it would happen so soon because I knew I had, and still have, a lot of work to do,” Mathews said. “The leagues are very different, I think the big thing is the pace but also the control that players have in the WNBL.
“Coming here, I knew it would be different, but it was a bit of a surprise to see how fast the game was and how hard everyone works. “You lose little bad habits that you had by not running when you should be or things like that, because everybody does those little things at this level.”
While she has only hit the court in two games, against Perth in a win at home and in a heavy loss to Dandenong, Mathews is learning more about the game than ever before. “It’s no skin off my nose whether I hit the court or not, it’s a privilege to be here and learning from everyone,”she said.
“Not just the more experienced players but everyone has been so helpful. “It is incredible to have those players with international experience for someone like me or (fellow Spirit youngster Ebony Rolph) that we even get to train, let alone play, with.”
As part of a younger Spirit roster this season, Mathews embodies what the club aims to be as a program that encompasses the whole of regional Victoria. There is little doubt Mathews is ambitious enough, but she has her feet planted firmly on the ground when she speaks about her future.
“I spoke to Simon a bit before coming here, and he said this year wasn’t about me getting out there and dominating, but development and learning and breaking those bad habits, and that’s what I’m focussed on,” Mathews said.
“I want to develop my game and build my body up, get stronger and compete with players at this level. “Hopefully then I’ll go back to SEABL and, if they have me back, come back to the WNBL ready in terms of what to expect but at the moment I’m just really enjoying being a part of this team.”