The Bendigo Spirit became the ninth WNBL club following its approval for entry into the 2007/08 season. As the third Victorian based team, the Spirit is based in the provincial town of Bendigo, population 71,000 and enjoys strong community, local business and media support in the greater Bendigo area.
The town has a strong basketball reputation and local leagues and associations. Both the Bendigo Braves (Men) and Bendigo Braves Women participate in country’s newest and arguably most competitive league outside of our National Leagues, NBL1 competition which includes teams from New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania.
The Braves have had phenomenal success at this level, winning the SEABL Championship five times, including the final SEABL Championship in 2018 with a 23-1 record, and the Australian Basketball Association (ABA) National Championship in 2003.
Both the on and off court success of the Braves Women sparked local community figures Wendy James, Jeremi Moule and the former Braves Women Head Coach Bernie Harrower to start the process of seeking a WNBL license. As the driving forces behind Bendigo’s push for a WNBL team, James, Moule and Harrower worked tirelessly and as result, the Spirit was granted the right to participate in the WNBL in early 2007.
The Spirit played their first ever WNBL game at their home court, the Bendigo Schweppes Centre on Saturday, October 6 against the Dandenong Rangers and claimed a historic 87-66 victory.
That night the Spirit was led by Harrower’s daughter, World Champion Opal Kristi, who scored a game high 21 points.
The Spirit has since gone on to win back to back WNBL Championships in the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 seasons and runners-up in the 2014/2015 season. A change in coaching from 2015 – 2019 with Simon Pritchard, saw growth within in our participation numbers and new players the Bendigo community came to love.
2019/2020 sees former Adelaide 36ers Assistant Coach, Tracy York to become the first female Head Coach and aims to take the Spirit back to the WNBL Championship in the 2019/2020 season.