Tianna takes out MVP in Townsville

March 30, 2023 | Townsville Fire news

Having just missed out on being named the league MVP Tianna Hawkins took out Townsville’s top honour at the JCU Fire’s end of season awards. It prompted a heartfelt farewell from the import, who thanked the club and community for helping her fall in love with basketball again.

“I lost my grandfather last year, he was the person that introduced me to the sport. So last year I just didn’t have that passion anymore and I was just hoping that coming here I would find fun in playing it. So just being here in a great city, in front of great fans and just being a part of a great culture, has definitely put me in a position where I’ve fallen in love with basketball again.”

The Hawk hasn’t ruled out a return hasn’t if she suits up outside of America again. It’s a decision she won’t make lightly, after spending months away from her young son Emanuel.

“This was supposed to be my last overseas season but you know once I got here and got around the girls and the coaches, just showing up for practice was the highlight of my day, every day. If I were ever to come back to Australia, Townsville would be my first spot, in fact it would be my only spot.”

Fellow Import Karlie Samuelson is also welcome back anytime. The Californian claimed the coach’s award on the back of her fierce first WNBL season.

“It’s really sweet I mean people make fun like coach’s pet or whatever but it’s nice, and I really did come because Mikaela Ruef told me Shannon was awesome to work with. And you know winning a championship starts with a good coach and it’s amazing what we were able to achieve.”

Shannon Seebohm’s selection stunned a playing group fully expecting his clear favourite Courtney Woods to get it. Samuelson suggested she was promoted from second choice when Woody was the recipient of the inaugural “Army” award for displaying exceptional courage and teamwork.

“Yes that’s it! No she killed it every time she stepped on the floor so she definitely deserved that honour. And Woody’s speech was awesome too.”

Lara McSpadden was acknowledged for her contribution beyond what she delivered on the court. The centre won the club’s commitment to excellence award, but the biggest cheer of the evening was reserved for Kate Gaze getting called on stage.

“I just think Players’ Player is really special to receive because it’s one your teammates vote for. And you know I didn’t sort of get out there and be amongst the action too much but to receive this, just proves that I bring something else to the team. It’s really nice to be recognized because we have such an amazing group of women, I feel anyone could have got it.”