November 21, 2019 | WNBL news

The WNBL Podcast Snack with Laura Hodges

Laura Hodges has played in the Chemist Warehouse WNBL for almost 13 years but her most special moment is still ahead of her.

The four-time Olympian will return to the court for the Adelaide Lightning in Round 7 for the first time since giving birth to her first child, 13-month-old Ava.

A calf injury has delayed the 35-year-old’s start to the #WNBL20 campaign, but she is set to suit up in the Lightning’s game against the Southside Flyers next week.

And, playing for the first time in front of her daughter is an occasion she’s thought plenty about.

“It will mean the world and I think it will be a really special moment,’’ Hodges told the Chemist Warehouse WNBL Show.

“Hopefully she likes what she sees on the court and hopefully I won’t be too teary. I think it’s a huge milestone for me and my family, they’ve done a lot of the load to help me get back to playing so it’ll be really special and hopefully Ava enjoys watching her mum out there.”

Hodges always had a desire to return to the WNBL, post-baby, for a 13th season.

“When I fell pregnant with Ava, I’d had a finger surgery reconstruction so I didn’t get to play a final game and think ‘this is the end’ and I never really thought it was,’’ she said.

“I love to still train and be part of a group and it’s been really enjoyable being back in the Adelaide group even though I haven’t had a game yet. The environment and camaraderie – it’s fun every day seeing your friends and being part of a competitive environment.

“I’ve always loved playing in the WNBL and loved the Adelaide Lightning, I’m really looking forward to it and desperately want to get back on the court.”

The WNBL introduced its first pregnancy and parental care policy last year and Hodges is one of the first players to benefit from the new support structure. And as a representative of the Australian Basketball Players Association, she knows better than most what it stands for.

“When WNBL athletes do fall pregnant it doesn’t mean it’s the end, their contracts are actually paused and it means that they can come back to the role 12 months later. It’s a great thing because I think for me I always thought I had to finish playing to have a child and women should be able to do it whenever they feel comfortable,’’ she said.

“Now, a team can include your child, you can travel with your child on the road and it’s important Mums aren’t left alone, it’s great.”

Hodges says although hitting the gym, returning to the court and gearing up for pre-season was gruelling at times but it’s something she has embraced.

“It was certainly a juggle and my pre-season to pre-season was very early mornings before Ava was awake and late nights after she went to bed, so I was juggling that.

“It was a little bit of me time and it was great to really sweat again and get back a similar body to what I had before.

“I’m just so in awe of all the mothers of the past that have done it, it is a juggle but it is a little bit of an outlet so it’s your time for you then as soon as you get home you’re back into mum mode.”

Listen to Laura Hodges on The Chemist Warehouse WNBL Show here

The Chemist Warehouse WNBL Show drops every Wednesday during the #WNBL20 season