Kelly Wilson epitomizes what the Bendigo Bank Spirit is all about. She is strongly focused on family, is entrenched in the Bendigo community, and never, ever gives up.
“All players are competitive and want to win every game that they play in, otherwise they wouldn’t be playing,” she said.
“I am an extremely competitive person and approach every game with the intention of doing everything I can to help my team win.
“When I lose motivation to train or be competitive I know that I shouldn’t be playing anymore.”
The 30 year old, who has also played for the AIS, the Sydney Flames and Townsville Fire, will line up for her 300th Wattle Valley WNBL game against the Melbourne Boomers on Saturday.
“If someone had asked me when I first started playing in the WNBL if I thought I would play more than 300 games my answer most likely would have been ‘no’”, she said.
“I really looked up to the players in the WNBL when I was younger so to be able to have played in the WNBL for so long is something I am proud of, yes.”
Kelly’s inspirations off-court are clear – her family.
“After our last game against Melbourne, my nephew Ethan said to me ‘Kel, you didn’t play very well…your team scored 50 something and the other team got to 70’.
“I told him I appreciated his honesty and that I would try my best to do better the next game we played.
“He is my off-court inspiration for the time being. I told him that in the coming weeks I will aim to help my team score more points than the opposition.
“My parents have easily been the biggest influence on my career, not just in a sporting sense but also academically.
“Without their support and encouragement I would not be where I am today. They provided me every opportunity to succeed as a young basketballer and student.
“They sacrificed many, many hours driving me around Australia to train and play. My older brothers and sister often (jokingly…I think?!) made me aware of the fact that I dominated our parents time so I guess I should also thank them for their understanding”
Kelly is also full of praise for her husband, Michael, her close friends and work colleagues.
“My time in Bendigo has no doubt been as enjoyable as it has been because of Michael. He is a constant source of entertainment, is supportive of my hectic schedule and most importantly he puts up with me when we lose and I am in a bad mood,” she said.
“I have also been lucky enough to share many years playing basketball with both my sister Andrea and best friend Gabe (Richards). We lived together for my first six years in Bendigo and it was very hard to break up the gang when I got married and moved out
“I also need to make a special mention of my employer, Bendigo South East College. I have worked at the school for nearly seven years and they have been so supportive of my schedule in terms of Opals camps and tours as well as Spirit road trips.
“I feel privileged to have been able to combine playing elite level sport at the same time as working as a teacher at a great school.”
Basketball has allowed Kelly to play all around the world, but her career highlights are very close to home.
“My most memorable and enjoyable years in the WNBL have been my time playing for the Spirit,” she said.
“Our two consecutive championships came after several years of struggling to make finals and compete with the already established clubs in the WNBL.
“To be able to win those championships in front of our home crowd with the same core group of players and coaches was something that I will never forget.
“Obviously, anytime that you are able to represent Australia is also something that is memorable and I have been lucky enough to achieve that several times over the past few years whilst being in the Opals program.”
This year’s Spirit group is also proving to be inspirational for the point guard.
“The Spirit playing group is a great bunch of girls to be around. We have been so fortunate in the fact that all players get along and are on the same page. Simon often gets annoyed that it takes him forever to get our attention as we seem to be quite a chatty group,” she said
“The Spirit organisation has worked extremely hard to promote the club and integrate the team into the community.
“Whether that be through school clinics, social media or sponsorship opportunities it has helped to increase awareness of the club.
“Our support at home games this year has been fabulous which is no doubt a testament to the hard work that has been done by many off the floor.
“If any sponsors or supporters are reading this I would like to say a huge thank you for your continued support as it makes the Bendigo Spirit the best team to play for in the WNBL!”
When asked if there was anything else she wanted to mention, she was quick to make one, final point:
“Go Spirit :).”