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Canberra Today 2°/7° | Sunday, May 22, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Kelly’s rollercoaster season hits a record high

Basketball star Kelly Wilson… I always try my hardest and that is something I’d like to be known for and remembered for.

‘Super competitive’ basketball star – and veteran of 400 WNBL games – Kelly Wilson tells sport columnist SIMON ANDERSON she loves playing and is grateful that, at 37, she still can.

OVER a 20-year career, there isn’t much that Kelly Wilson hasn’t seen in the WNBL. 

Simon Anderson.

The ongoing pandemic that delayed her reaching a unique milestone is something the veteran point guard is still adjusting to.

Wilson has become the only player in the league’s 42-year history to play 400 games, reaching the milestone against the Perth Lynx on January 14. 

Game 400 eventually came after three false starts, with the UC Capitals’ fixtures against the Sydney Flames and Melbourne Boomers postponed due to covid protocols.

It is all part of a rollercoaster season for the 37-year-old, which has also included a suspension for her coach among the many covid disruptions.

Wilson told “CityNews” this season had easily been one of the most challenging of her career.

“Every season you play in has its ups and downs,” said Wilson.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be a regular season and that there might be some disruptions, but we have only played four or five games and it feels like it has been a long season already.

“We had some covid situations where we have been in isolation, but at the end of the day we wanted to play and we wanted to have a home-and-away season so we need to be prepared and be able to adapt on the run as the season moves forward.”

It is fitting that Wilson brought up the 400-game milestone representing Canberra, given her basketball career started at the AIS in 2002.

Twenty years on, Wilson feels like she has come full circle in her career.

“When we are at the AIS training I look back and think: ‘Oh, my gosh, that was so long ago at the start of my career as a young kid,” said Wilson, who returned to the Capitals in 2021 following a season playing for her hometown Bendigo Spirit.

“I love Canberra, I enjoy playing in front of a Canberra crowd and it has been phenomenal to get back here,” she said.

“It would be amazing if we could get more home games in, it was disappointing to miss one earlier in the month.
“That is why we have been fortunate to have a home-and-away season this year, so we can be back playing in front of those Canberra fans.”

The major milestone almost didn’t happen for Wilson. 

After becoming the all-time games played leader during the 2019/2020 season when she played her 395th game with the Bendigo Spirit, Wilson sat out the 2020 season due to the birth of her first child, Teddy.

Wilson said at that point, she wasn’t sure if she would come back to the sport that has been a focal part of her life for decades.

“I was completely happy with having the career that I have had, I had played a lot of games and I had enjoyed myself,” said Wilson.

“The fact that I am still playing now feels like a bonus.
“I don’t look too far ahead, as long as I am still able to run around, enjoy myself playing and hopefully have some type of success, I can’t tell you what the future looks like.”

Playing at such a high level for so many seasons isn’t easy. To have sustained success along the way is even harder.

Wilson has won four WNBL titles, including in 2018/19 with the Capitals, and puts her ongoing success and longevity down to some key attributes.

“I’ve always been super competitive, and I have been that way since I was a kid,” said Wilson.

“That competitiveness is still there, but I think the main thing is that I have always been able to enjoy it – it has never felt like a job or a chore to me.

“I have always enjoyed training and trying to be in the best possible physical shape.

“I just love the game – I love playing and I am grateful for the fact that I am still able to.” 

Asked how she would describe herself looking back over a stellar career, Wilson provided a humble response.

“I always give 100 per cent.”

“It doesn’t always mean that I am always successful, but I always try my hardest and that is something I’d like to be known for and remembered for.” 

There are more of Simon Anderson’s sport columns at citynews.com.au

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