Lauren Jackson and Kellie Henning get nostalgic ahead of AIS game
Friday night at the AIS Arena will be an emotional homecoming of sorts for former University of Canberra Capitals stars, Lauren Jackson and Kellie Henning. The Capitals won seven WNBL titles from 2000 until 2010 with Lauren and Kellie Abrams, as she was then known, playing key roles.
Despite the fact that four title wins took place away from home doesn’t diminish, in the minds of both players, the importance of the venue to their careers. For Lauren, the emotion won’t be confined to her memories as a basketballer, “It will be great, a bit of a home coming really. A lot has happened since my retirement and it will be really lovely taking my son to the place I called home for such a long time.”
Lauren’s association with the AIS Arena came four years before her first title with the Capitals. She recalls, “I won the National Schools’ Championship with Murray High School in 1996 before I left Albury to start at the AIS as a 15 year old.”
Success soon resulted, with Lauren leading the AIS to their first WNBL title in 1998. Titles then followed her to the Capitals.
Apart from the basketball, it was the love the people of Canberra displayed towards the Capitals that made it so enjoyable for Lauren, “Canberra thoroughly embraced the Capitals and it was remarkable, particularly looking back now. We were so lucky that we had that much support.”
Kellie’s memories of playing in Canberra are as equally fond, “In 2008-2009 we hosted the Bulleen Boomers in the Grand Final at the AIS Arena. We won the grand final by three points. The Brumbies were playing next door at Canberra Stadium and we walked around the Stadium at half time and received a standing ovation from 25,000 people.”
As the memories come flooding back of those glory days, the focus is as much about the crowd support as the games themselves. Kellie says, “ One of the most memorable moments at the Arena was before a Grand Final against Sydney. The microphone didn’t work for the person who was to sing the National Anthem prior to the game. It was a sell-out crowd and everyone just started singing the National Anthem. It was amazing and gave me goose bumps.”
Kellie relocated back to Canberra earlier this year with husband Scott and their two children, Taylor, aged five years, and Marlie, two. Kellie remains a big supporter of the Capitals, “My eldest has grown fond of Marianna Tolo and calls her Solo.”
Apart from motherhood, Kellie manages and runs her own business called Elite Massage Solutions. Lauren, as you would expect, also has her hands full, ”Nowadays, I am a mum of 20 month old Harry who is soon to have another little brother at the beginning of January. I work as an assistant general manager of the Melbourne Boomers and I have just released my autobiography. I finished my Bachelor’s Degree and I am currently doing my MBA. I am also in the throes of starting my first business, so there is quite a lot happening.” Possibly the understatement of the year!
It would appear both have taken the values learned from their playing days into the next phase of their lives. Lauren and Kellie; the praise is well earned.
Featured image provided by The Canberra Times.