The Deakin Melbourne Boomers have been a part of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) since 1984, making the club both the oldest WNBL club and the longest-running elite-level women’s sports team in Australia (in any sport).
The iconic brand of the Boomers is both nationally and internationally recognised, most notably for being home to more Olympians and Opals than any other basketball club across Australia.
For 30 years the team was known as the Bulleen Boomers, before transforming into the Melbourne Boomers in 2013. Not long after, Deakin University joined as the club’s Naming Rights partner.
The WNBL licence was owned by Bulleen-Templestowe Basketball Club (BTBC) from the team’s inception through until 2016 when a group of private owners took over the licence after BTBC had informed Basketball Australia of its intention to hand the licence back.
The Boomers’ first coach was Trevor Cook and the initial team included Michele Timms and Samantha Thornton who both went on to represent Australia with distinction in future years. The club first qualified for the WNBL finals in 1989 under the guidance of coach Paul Deacon and, after progressing to the same stage the following year, missed the playoffs until 1996 when, in coach Lori Chizik’s first season, Bulleen finished third in the regular season before bowing out in the semi finals.
Chizik led the Boomers to the 1999/00 preliminary final, the club’s best ever result. Cheryl Chambers took over in 2001/02 and steered the club to two finals appearances, including the 2004/05 preliminary final.
The Boomers called Sheahan’s Road Basketball Centre, Keilor Basketball Stadium, the Melbourne Entertainment Centre and the Veneto Club home before moving to their current home at the State Basketball Centre, Wantirna South, where the club’s Front Office is now based permanently.
Since its inception, Bulleen was a club-based program. However, in recent years the players and administration of the club have become much more professional and the presentation of the games has improved markedly. The club grew successfully for a remarkably strong junior program that was instrumental in the development of some of Australia’s best ever basketballers, such as Debbie Slimmon, Samantha Russell, Karin Maar, Tammy Good, Gaylene McKay, Cheryl Chambers.
However, none have had a bigger influence on Australian hearts and minds than Michele Timms. Timms has long been recognised as the most talented female basketballer Australia has ever produced. As a three-time Olympian, four-time World Championship athlete and Australian captain, she represented Australia with absolute excellence.
Still one of the most recognisable Australian athletes in the country, Timms was a pioneer for young Australian female basketballers – she was the first Australian to play in the Women’s National Basketball Association(WNBA) and also had a successful career in Europe and the US.
Timms is commonly referred to as the Patron of the Boomers and the club’s annual MVP award is struck in her name.
In the mid-2000s the likes of Katrina “Froggy” Hibbert and Hollie Grima formed the backbone of Boomers teams. Hibbert won back-to-back League MVP awards during the 2004/05 and 2005/06 season while Grima followed up her World Championship gold medal with the Opals in 2006 by being crowned league MVP in 2006/07 and then winning Silver at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
In the latter years of being Bulleen, the heart and soul were club stalwarts Desiree Glaubitz and Sharin Milner. Both have been rewarded with Opals squad selection and Milner is twice winner of the WNBL Golden Hands Award (2003/04 and 2008/09).
In 2009 and 2010 the addition of Liz Cambage, Rachel Jarry and Jenna O’Hea provided the final pieces to the puzzle and in March 2011, the Boomers were crowned WNBL Champions. Before the 2013/14 season, the Boomers changed their name from “Bulleen” to “Melbourne” to target a wider area of population and boost crowd numbers. The team also changed its colours from blue and gold to purple and gold.
Prior to the start of the 2016/17 WNBL season, the license to run the Melbourne Boomers changed hands. After 32 years, BTBC transferred the license to run the WNBL team to a group of private owners, all who have a passion for women’s basketball and want to see the Boomers continue to grow as Australia’s most iconic women’s basketball team.
Today’s team includes talented young Australians like Maddie Garrick, Monique Conti, Jaz Shelley and Ezi Magbegor , while Jenna O’Hea returned in 2017/18 to become the club’s captain.
Coach Guy Molloy and GM Justin Nelson continue to be the constant behind the scenes, while in recent times Lauren Jackson has joined the club in the role of Assistant GM.
In season 2017/18 the Boomers returned to the finals and fell just short in the Grand Final series against Townsville. In a groundbreaking season for Melbourne’s WNBL club, the Boomers recorded the highest crowds in the WNBL, including a season-best 3,655 on January 18.