Heather Oliver is proof you don’t lose hunger for success once you have tasted it.
The 28 year old was part of the championship-winning 2014 Bendigo Bank Spirit team, and on the eve of her 100th game is as hungry as ever for another title.
“We all have those moments at training or mid-season where you might be a little run down or tired and you second guess if it’s worth it. It’s a massive time commitment and you certainly make a lot of sacrifices along the way,” she said.
“But ultimately, you don’t have your whole life to play sport, especially not at the professional level and I think that’s what keeps me going.
“Every team session, or individual or fitness session, you just have to go into it thinking of the bigger picture, which is the championship at the end of the season.
“The more work you do to better yourself and your team, the better the result will be at the end of the season. You certainly don’t want to finish the season with any what ifs.”
Oliver’s international experience rates alongside the 2014 championship in a long list of career highlights.
“I loved representing Australia at the U21 FIBA World Championships in 2007 which were in Russia,” she said.
“We came home with a silver medal and it was just an amazing experience. I believe we were one of the last teams to bust out the green and gold bodysuits too!!
“I also include my time in the States on a scholarship at the University of Southern California (in LA) as another highlight.
“I got to travel and meet some pretty amazing people along the way as well as complete my degree.”
Oliver’s trademark toughness is a product of a committed family and coaches.
“My family have been, and always will be, the biggest influence on my career, maybe not because of their basketball skills, but certainly their work ethic and commitment to everything they do,” Oliver said.
“My parents sacrificed a lot over the years driving me here there and everywhere to games, tournaments or whatever tryouts were going on.
“They told me if I was willing to put in the hard work on the court then they would be happy to cart me around the countryside.
“My brothers have played a massive role as well, although they didn’t like losing to me in our epic backyard basketball games. They were always pushing me (literally) and supporting me in everything that I do.”
On-court, quality coaching and a great team spirit have been behind her successes.
“I would also attribute a lot of my basketball success to Leanne Collihole, a coach and family friend who trained me alongside Hanna Zavecz as a junior,” Oliver said.
“I had the basics when I first started with her, but Leanne helped develop my game which enabled me to take it to the next level. She also had me on the running track most summers where we worked on my fitness, her kids would run around the track laughing and having fun while I wasn’t necessarily having the best time, but she was always pushing me to make me better.
“I trained with some guys along the way and Leanne’s talk to them was that they were never to take it easy on me.
“My on-court inspirations have always been my team mates. I have met some amazing people over the journey and have had the opportunity to play with and against some really great players.
“Hearing their stories and learning from their experiences has been incredible and you really draw from them. Playing with the likes of Kristi, Snelly, Kels and Chels who have all had international and Olympic experience, their knowledge of the game is just unbelievable and I have learnt a great deal from them.
“I also came through the Country Vic circle and grew up watching Kelly and Gabe, so it’s pretty cool thinking back to my first ITC camp where I was so intimidated by these players and now they’re my team mates.
“A special thanks must go to the Bateson and Balic clan who have come to each home game this season to cheer me on. I really appreciate it. And another shout out to the Sandhurst netball girls and guys who have come along as well!”