After firmly establishing the University of Canberra Capitals as the most successful team in Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) history, head coach Carrie Graf has announced her departure from the club.
With her contract finishing at the end of the current season, Graf will not be seeking reappointment as coach of the UC Capitals, after nearly 15 seasons in the job.
“It’s been a long and mostly successful stint since I first took the coaching job here in 1999, but I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and it’s time for me to move on,” she said.
Graf acknowledged that the current season has been tough for the team but said her decision was not based solely on the results posted to date.
“This season has been loaded with adversity and disappointment, however, this was not the determining factor in my decision,” she said.
“I am looking forward to taking a break from basketball and focusing on my family for a while before hopefully returning refreshed for my next career challenge.”
Graf immediately brought about a winning culture upon joining the club. The team had only been to the playoffs once in their history, but they took out the championship in the 1999-2000 season, were runners up the following year, before winning a second championship in the 2001-02 season.
After splitting her time between Canberra and coaching jobs abroad, including a stint with the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, Graf returned for good in time for the 2005-06 season before leading the team to a further four championships to make the now UC Capitals Canberra’s most successful professional sporting team.
She also won WNBL Coach of the Year honours in both the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.
Graf was also appointed the University of Canberra’s first coach in residence in 2013. Her role has seen her mentor and offer support to University sports teams while also lecturing in the University’s sports studies program.
UC Capitals general manager Joe Roff said Graf has made a significant contribution to the team and will be missed.
“We have the utmost respect for Carrie and recognise the dedication, hard work and great attitude she’s always displayed at the club,” he said. “We have been lucky to have a leader of her calibre, but respect her decision to spend more time with her young family and wish her all the best in the future.”
Graf said that she is confident of the team’s future as it enters a rebuilding phase following the recent departure of injured star player Lauren Jackson.
“I’m proud to see that the move of the Capitals program to the University of Canberra will guarantee long-term success and sustainability, and this season has started the renewal program,” she said.
“I am fortunate to have been part of such a great program and I look forward to watching it progress over the next few years.”