25 January 2019 | Bendigo Spirit news

Honour for Spirit Legends

THREE legends of the Bendigo Spirit basketball establishment were last weekend written into the league’s history books, receiving life membership to the WNBL.

Natalie Hurst, Gabe Richards and Kelly Wilson, who’s now with championship favourites Canberra Capitals, all received the honour – with Richards revealing she deliberately asked to be presented when Canberra came to town, so that she could celebrate with best-mates Kelsey Griffin and Wilson, only to then find out Wilson was also receiving hers on the same day.

“We’ve grown up playing together from as early as under 14s … so it was very special to receive the award alongside her,” she said.

Richards, who this season didn’t play for Bendigo’s national team, said that contrary to what people would think, it wasn’t winning two championships with the Spirit that was her biggest career highlight.

“While that is the reason you play (for championships), a highlight for me is the people that I have played with, and that I have got to do it with,” she said.

“We’re really good friends.

“A team goes on longer than a win or a loss.”

Hurst, who this season celebrated reaching 250 games and last Sunday won the team’s MVP, said she wasn’t expecting to receive the league recognition last weekend.

“I didn’t even know I was (receiving it),” she said.

“It’s a great honour, to be in the league for that long, to have that achievement.”

Hurst moved to Bendigo this season after nine with Canberra, which included winning seven championships – something she marks as a milestone of her career.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play in some great teams, and lucky enough to be involved in seven championships with Canberra – all of those are pretty special to me,” she said.

“But to be able to play and win a championship in the WNBL, it’s so tough to do, so I’ve been lucky to be part of seven of them.”

Hurst also praised both Richards’ and Wilson’s ability and position in Bendigo basketball royalty.

“Gabe was super tough to stop, she’s a great player, she’s so smart, as a big player she can pass the basketball,” she said.

“Kelly obviously runs a team immaculately, she knows exactly what she’s doing, she knows where she wants to go and she gets things done.

“Those two girls definitely helped put Bendigo on the map.”

 

Article courtesy of the Bendigo Weekly

Photo courtesy of Craig Dilks Photography