By Women’s Premier League coach, Boti Nagy
LET’S be frank right from the get-go. Four decades-plus of trying to write about basketball without showing too much of a club bias had its tribulations for me because, here’s a secret – I’ve always been a Bearcat at heart.
My favourite player looking back was Werner Linde, perhaps the greatest shooter of the ball I’ve ever seen. My favourite import was Ken Richardson, also probably my favourite human being this great game allowed me to meet and eventually to regard as a friend.
And when it comes to women’s players, who is a greater example of everything great about our game than Rachael Sporn?
It’s no coincidence Werner’s #7 and Rachael’s #14 are West’s retired singlets. Maybe Ken’s #10 could be next?
He became West’s centre in the mid-70s after my brother Geza Nagy (you will find him in a West premiership team photo or two on the stairways to the bar) held down the middle.
West women’s coaching legend Terry Aston was one of my biggest coaching mentors so to now finally have the chance to coach West’s Premier League women’s team and be an actual part of South Australia’s greatest basketball club is an honour and a privilege greater than any I have experienced in the sport.
And what a wonderful team I inherited from Tim Brenton, with captain Sky Langenbrinck, Australian Indigenous National team members Tahlia and Jasmin Fejo, quality import and person Alexis Eckles, irrepressible Michaela Lappin, the talented Pearce sisters Alex and Keeley, along with Hajnal Nagy (back from playing in France) all returning from the 2018 outfit.
Staci Kennedy has taken the jump from juniors into the PL squad and will see action this year, as will Chloe Hodges when her State Under-18 commitments conclude next month. The pathways into this team are visible and accessible.
The team also has been boosted by the arrival of New Zealand’s Commonwealth Games star playmaker Jordan Hunter, a WNBL player with Adelaide Lightning pre-injury and an exciting addition to our team.
SA born-and-bred junior and college star Ashleigh “Splash” Spencer has crossed to us from the SEABL’s Ballarat Rush after three years there and also at Bendigo Spirit’s WNBL program.
Losing two-time and reigning club MVP Ieva Nagy to an ACL tear in the preseason unquestionably set us back but she already is hard at work looking for a successful return in the 2020 campaign.
Ieva will join Stana Zecevic as assistants for the 2019 team, behind club stalwart Joe Noone who last week added the BSA Reserves Summer Championship to his and the Bearcats’ impressive resume.
Having coached at PL – or ABA, or CABL, or District basketball – level for 17 years, plus three at SEABL level, I have had the pleasure of working with a number of extremely committed basketball players.
But our Premier League girls ahead of the 2019 season, which tips off for us this Friday, have worked as hard as any I have seen and I am expecting huge performances this year from the Bearcats’ elite women’s team.
I have always known West Adelaide was the place to be, even as a young kid admiring the “WEST IS BEST” sign at Forestville Stadium.
And Friday night from 7pm, Port Adelaide Stadium will be the place to be as our girls take on the powerful Southern Tigers in their Premier League season opener.
Come along and cheer them on. This is the team to which we want our junior girls to aspire and to assist in that, expect to see a much greater presence from our elite at junior practices in 2019.
This is undoubtedly the place to be in 2019.