When Rachel Jarry made her WNBL debut for the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in 2008/09 at 16 years of age big things were expected of the talented Victorian forward/guard, however I don’t think anyone would have anticipated just how much she would achieve in the next seven and a half years. Having turned 24 years old in December 2015 Jarry has already played in a WNBL championship, a WNBA championship, been selected in the WNBL All-Star five, represented the Australian Jayco Opals at both the 2012 Olympics and the 2014 World Championships and is currently co-captain of WNBL club, the SEQ Stars in their first season.
In all six WNBL seasons that she has played more than three games Jarry has maintained a high standard of performance, averaging more than 10 points and five rebounds per game and has regularly ranked in the top 20 of the WNBL in multiple statistical categories each season, including the 2011/12 and 2012/13 WNBL seasons when she was ranked in the top 20 of the league for points, rebounds and assists per game as well as total blocks and total steals in each season.
From her WNBL debut for the AIS in 2008/09 to the end of the 2012/13 WNBL season Jarry was extremely durable, playing 112 of a possible 118 WNBL games during this period, missing two games in 2008/09, four games in 2010/11 due to a knee injury and in three seasons 2009/10, 2011/12 and 2012/13 she played all 24 games in a season for the Bulleen Boomers. After her debut season with the AIS Jarry joined the Bulleen Boomers for the 2009/10 season and in her first three seasons with the club the Boomers made the WNBL grand final each season. The Bulleen Boomers won their first WNBL championship in 2010/11 and finished runner-up in 2009/10 and 2011/12. In 2009/10 Jarry was a valuable contributor off the bench and took on more responsibility over the next couple of seasons. During 2011/12 Jarry was one of the best players in the league, being named in the 2011/12 WNBL All-Star five, and was also the Bulleen Boomers co-captain along with Sam Richards.
Although knee injuries curtailed her 2013/14 and 2014/15 WNBL seasons, limiting Jarry to only three WNBL games, all in the 2013/14 season she has been a regular for the Australian Opals since the 2012 London Olympics, where at just 20 years of age she was the youngest member of the Australian Opals. Jarry is one of three players along with Laura Hodges and Belinda Snell to be part of the Australian Opals medal winning teams at both the 2012 London Olympics and the 2014 World Championships. Hodges, Snell and Jarry were all members of the Australian Opals team that defeated New Zealand at the 2015 Oceania Championships to book the Opals 2016 Rio Olympics berth, however neither Hodges or Snell played for Australia last month at the test event in Rio making Jarry the only player to represent the Australian Jayco Opals at the following four tournaments; 2012 Olympics, 2014 World Championships, 2015 Oceania Championship and 2016 test event in Rio. At the 2014 World Championships and the 2016 Rio test event Jarry started every game for Australia at both tournaments, no other player started for the Opals at both tournaments.
Although best suited to playing as a shooting guard or small forward, at 185 centimetres tall Jarry has a wide-ranging skill-set and a combination of athleticism and physicality that also enables her to play as a point guard or power forward if required by her team. As a junior one of Jarry’s greatest strengths was her post play and whilst she hasn’t been used in this role as much during her time in the WNBL her proficiency in this role resulted in her being assigned the important task of defending Suzy Batkovic (193 cm tall) in Bulleen’s 2011/12 preliminary final victory. During her professional career Jarry has developed her outside game and the most improved component of her game during the 2015/16 WNBL season has been her three-point shooting, making 32 of her 71 three-pointers for an accuracy of 45%, ranked third in the WNBL of all the players that made at least 10 three-pointers behind Brittany Smart – 49% and Natalie Novosel – 46%.
After injury restricted her to a total of only three WNBL games in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons Rachel Jarry has returned strongly during the 2015/16 season to play 23 of a possible 24 games for the SEQ Stars and rank in the top 20 of the WNBL at the end of the regular season for total points, rebounds, assists and steals highlighting her versatility. An ankle injury to SEQ’s starting point guard Lauren Mansfield forced her to miss the club’s final three regular season games and she will remain on the sidelines injured during the finals. In SEQ’s lass three regular season games SEQ Stars co-captains Jarry and Amy Lewis have been required to handle more of the ball handling responsibilities. In her first 20 games of the 2015/16 season Jarry averaged 1.85 assists per game and only had five or more assists in a game once. In the past three games with Mansfield out injured Jarry has adapted her game superbly to average 5.7 assists per game and had two games with at least five assists.
The SEQ Stars finished the 2015/16 WNBL regular season in fourth place with a record of 15 wins and nine losses, identical to the team that finished third, the Dandenong Rangers. The SEQ Stars finished lower on the ladder than the Rangers due to losing the season split between the two clubs one game to two, however SEQ easily accounted for Dandenong in the final game of the WNBL season on Sunday 21 February, winning 88-64 at Dandenong Stadium after leading by 28 points at half-time. The Dandenong Rangers host the SEQ Stars in the minor semi final tonight with the winner to advance to the Preliminary Final to play the loser of the major semi final between reigning WNBL champions the Townsville Fire and Perth Lynx.
It has been a dramatic conclusion to the 18 round WNBL regular season for the SEQ Stars, having been placed in administration on Wednesday February 3, just two days before they were scheduled to start their Round 16 road-double against Adelaide and Perth. Due to support from sponsors, Logan Council and Basketball Australia the SEQ Stars were able to play out the remainder of the season. The resilience and talent of the SEQ Stars has been on display over the final three rounds of the season, winning four of their last five games to secure a finals berth in their inaugural season, two and a half weeks after players and staff feared that the SEQ Stars had played their last ever basketball game. Whilst Jarry can call on the experience of playing in three WNBL Grand Finals, given that her last final was in 2011/12, the battles she has faced to recover from long-term knee injuries and the fight the SEQ Stars faced just to survive let alone play finals, the feeling for Jarry on the eve of a finals campaign is bound to be different in 2015/16.
Rachel Jarry was born on 6 December 1991, grew up in Williamstown and was active from a young age. When asked in a SEQ Basketball video in April 2015 ‘What inspired you to choose basketball?’ Rachel responded “My mum got me into it when I was five (years old) in prep, I loved it, I tried netball for a bit but I kept getting sent off for contact and obstruction so I thought I better stick with basketball.” Jarry’s junior basketball team was the Altona Gators and in Primary School she wrote in her scrapbook that she wanted to play basketball at the Olympics and that Lauren Jackson was her idol. In 2012 Jarry achieved her childhood goal of playing basketball for Australia at the Olympics, and was also able to play alongside Lauren Jackson on the Australian Opals team. Jackson was not only captain of the Opals at the 2012 London Olympic Games, but flag-bearer for the entire Australian Olympic team at the Opening Ceremony. When asked on WNBL Lights Up –Ep 09.2 ‘What the fondest memory she would take away from the 2012 Olympics was Rachel responded “Apart from the medal, that’s always going to be the thing that sticks out, but I think the Opening Ceremony was something that was amazing as well. Being able to march behind Lauren and sort of be able to share that experience with her in some way was really special and almost emotional which I didn’t expect it to be. It was just something that will always stay with me.”
Jarry represented Victoria Metro at the under 16 National championships in 2006 and at the under 18 National Championships in 2007 and 2008. Impressive performances for her state team, particularly as a post player resulted in her receiving a scholarship from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in 2008.
The AIS finished last of 10 teams in the WNBL during 2008/09 with a record of two wins and 20 losses, two games behind ninth placed Perth, but with a slightly better percentage, 77.5 to Perth’s 75.7. In 2008/09 Rachel Jarry played 20 games for the AIS in the WNBL, averaging 11.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.7 steals and 23.8 minutes per game. Jarry ranked second at AIS for both points and rebounds behind Liz Cambage. In her debut season Jarry ranked 22nd in the WNBL for rebounds per games and 26th for points. Both Cambage and Jarry went on to play for Australia at the 2012 Olympic games in London, however several other members of the 2008/09 AIS team have also gone on to represent Australia, with both Tess Madgen and Alice Kunek being Australian Jayco Opals team-mates of Jarry’s for the 2015 Oceania Championship against New Zealand. Another team-mate Gretal Tippett changed sports to Netball, was a starter on the Queensland Firebirds team that won the 2015 ANZ Championship and has represented the Australian Netball team, the Diamonds.
Rachel was a member of the Victorian team that won the gold medal at the under 20 National Championships in 2009. At the 2009 Under 19 World Championships held in Bankgkok, Thailand in July and August Jarry played nine games for Australia, averaging 12.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 23.6 minutes per game. During the tournament Jarry was one of Australia’s best players, being ranked equal first for the Gems for rebounds with Liz Cambage, equal first for steals with Tess Madgen, second for points scored behind Cambage, equal second for assists, first for offensive rebounds and second for defensive rebounds. One of Jarry’s weaknesses was her free throw shooting making exactly half of her shots, comprised of 10 made from 20 attempts.
Australia lost to Canada 49-50 in a quarter final, Jarry was one of only three Australian players to score more than three points whilst Canada had a more even team performance with five players scoring at least six points. In the classification games to decide fifth place to eighth place Australia defeated France by 18 points and Russia by 40 points to finish the 2009 Under 19 World Championships in fifth place. Highlighting the quality of her all-round performance at the under 19 World Championships in 2009 Jarry ranked 11th overall for points per game, equal 14th for rebounds, equal 12th for assists, equal 14th for steals and fourth for field goal accuracy with 46.8%.
Jarry joined one of the strongest teams in the WNBL, the Bulleen Boomers for the 2009/10 season, Bulleen finished the 2008/09 regular season in second position with 17 wins and five losses and lost the Grand Final to Canberra by three points. Despite not turning 18 until half-way through the season Jarry didn’t look out of place alongside team-mates such as Jenna O’Hea, Hanna Zavecz, Sharin Milner, and Elyse Penaluna. Making the transition from the AIS to Bulleen easier was that Jarry’s AIS and Australian Gems team-mate Liz Cambage joined the Boomers at the same time as Jarry.
Bulleen had one of the most dominant regular seasons in WNBL history during 2009/10 to finish with a record of 21 wins, one loss, and a percentage of 132, four games ahead of second placed Sydney and five games ahead of Canberra who finished third. Bulleen comprehensively defeated Sydney 72 to 55 in the major semi final. Canberra had a hard-fought five point win over Sydney in the Preliminary Final, 61 to 56 to set up the second consecutive Grand Final between Bulleen and Canberra.
Whilst Bulleen maintained an extremely high standard and a stable roster throughout the 2009/10 season Canberra improved their line-up in the second half of the season with Abby Bishop returning from a shoulder injury in December and mid-season signing Lauren Jackson joined the club in the same month. Canberra had five players that averaged at least 12 points per game for the season, Jackson, Bishop, Jess Bibby, Mariana Tolo and Natalie Hurst, with other members of the team including Carly Wilson, Kellie Abrams and Chantella Perrera. Bulleen had five players that averaged more than nine points and five rebounds per game in 2009/10, Liz Cambage, Jenna O’Hea, Elyse Penaluna, Hanna Zavecz and Jarry, and also had veterans Sharin Milner, Desiree Glaubitz and Kylie Reid. Highlighting just how strong these two clubs were a total of five players from the 2009/10 WNBL Grand Final went on to represent the Australian Opals at the 2012 Olympics being, Jarry, Cambage, O’Hea, Jackson and Bishop, whilst another two players were in the 15 player squad that played in the farewell series against Brazil in Victoria during June 2012 before being amongst the final three players cut from the Opals 2012 Olympic team, Zavecz and Tolo.
In one of the highest standard and closest Grand Finals in WNBL history the lead changed 23 times. Bulleen were strongly placed to win their first WNBL title leading 68 to 62 with four and a half minutes remaining, however the experience of Canberra proved critical with the Capitals being far more composed from that point on to go on a 13-2 run to win the Grand Final 75-70, winning back to back WNBL championships.
During 2009/10 Rachel Jarry started games on the bench behind the starting line-up of Sharin Milner, Hanna Zavecz, Jenna O’Hea, Elyse Penaluna and Liz Cambage but still made a significant impact in 24 games for the Bulleen Boomers, averaging 10.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 21.8 minutes per game. Jarry ranked fourth at Bulleen for points and rebounds, fifth for assists and blocks, and sixth for minutes. Although Jarry averaged only 55% game-time she ranked in the top 35 of the WNBL for points per game (34th), rebounds per game (20th) and assists per game (33rd), and ranked 27th in the league for total blocks, underlining the quality of Rachel’s all-round skill-set and the impact she was able to make at one of the benchmark club’s in the WNBL. On Jarry’s 2009/10 WNBL season Bulleen Boomers head coach Tom Maher commented “She wasn’t a heralded player when she came to us ‒ we just got lucky. She blossomed into a player overnight. I’ve never seen anything like it.”1
In the 2010 winter season Jarry played for the Ballarat Lady Miners in the South East Australia Basketball League (SEABL) and was outstanding throughout the season, winning the SEABL’s player of the week award twice and was the league’s player of the month for May and June. With Ballarat needing to defeat Kilsyth in the last game of the regular season to make the playoffs Jarry played her best game of the season in the win, dominating with 27 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks to secure Ballarat’s first SEABL finals berth since 2007.
Jarry played 23 games in the SEABL for Ballarat in 2010, averaging 19.6 points and 9 rebounds per game and at 18 years of age won the SEABL’s MVP award and was also named in the All-SEABL team. Previous winners of the SEABL MVP award include several players who have been team-mates of Jarry’s with the Australian Opals, Penny Taylor, Suzy Batkovic, Belinda Snell, Jenna O’Hea and Kelly Wilson.
Bullen finished the 2010/11 regular season on top of the WNBL ladder with a record of 19 wins, three losses and a percentage of 129, one win ahead of Canberra and four wins ahead of third placed Bendigo. It was the second season in a row that Bulleen had won the minor premiership and third consecutive season finishing in the top two. Whilst Bulleen had retained their core group from the previous season there had been some major changes for Canberra as Jackson did not play in the WNBL in 2010/11 and Bishop left Canberra to join the Dandenong Rangers. Australian Opals star Suzy Batkovic joined Canberra for the 2010/11 season but battled injuries throughout the season and missed 10 regular season games and also missed the semi final with an elbow infection. In another close final between the two clubs Bulleen defeated Canberra by four points in the semi final, 71 to 67. The two clubs met in the Grand Final for the third year in a row and the second season in succession at the State Netball and Hockey Centre (also known as the Cage) in Melbourne. Centre, Suzy Batkovic returned to Canberra’s line-up for the Grand Final. In the Grand Final on 13 March 2011 after the scores were tied at seven points apiece Bulleen went on a 32-10 run and never looked back to win by 25 points, 103 to 78 to claim the club’s first WNBL championship. In the Grand Final Jarry had 11 points, six rebounds and three assists. Veteran Bulleen point guard Sharin Milner was the Grand Final MVP with 27 points and five assists. At the time of playing in Bulleen’s championship winning side Rachel was 19 years old and had played 64 WNBL games.
In late January 2011 Jarry injured her knee against the AIS which caused her to miss several games. During 2010/11 Jarry played 20 of a possible 24 games for the Bulleen Boomers, averaging 13.4 points, 5.75 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 25.1 minutes per game. Jarry ranked second at Bulleen for points per game behind Cambage (22.3), third for assists behind O’Hea (5.1) and Milner (3.0), and fourth for rebounds behind Cambage (8.1), Penaluna (7.7) and Zavecz (5.82).
During the 2010/11 season Bulleen Boomers head-coach Tom Maher told AAP just how highly he rated Rachel Jarry “She’s incredible, she’s not even 19, it’s staggering how good she is. I reckon there would be less than 10 people in the history of the game at that age that accumulate numbers like she does.”2 Speaking to SEABL.com.au Rachel was asked if Maher’s comments increased the expectation on her to perform, Rachel responded “I was thinking about that; do I feel any pressure after he said that, but I don’t think so. I was surprised by what he said, it’s hard to get a compliment off Tom at the best of times so I’ll take it, but I don’t necessarily agree with it. I think I’ve still got a long way to go before I get into the calibre of any of the kind of players he’s talking about, but I don’t think I feel any pressure. I’m just trying to improve every game.” Jarry then expanded on the areas of her game that she wanted to improve. “Definitely my perimeter game, that’s a work in progress. It’s getting there but it needs to stand up in finals-type games, real pressure games. But I also need to just get more consistent at such a high level, that’s the main thing really.”3
Jarry nominated for the 2011 WNBA Draft and gathered with her Bulleen Boomers team-mates at 5 am on the morning of the draft for a WNBA draft party. Whilst Jarry was uncertain if she would be drafted, Bulleen team-mate Liz Cambage was expected to be a top three selection. Cambage was picked by the Tulsa Shock with selection 2 which was cause for celebration at the Bulleen draft party, however shortly after the end of the first round their live-stream of the draft ended. Jarry was selected not long after by the Atlanta Dream with pick 18 overall midway through the second round of the 2011 WNBA draft. Rachel commented after finding out that she had been drafted “I’m still pinching myself, I’m seriously in shock, it’s just a huge honour and I’m feeling really lucky right now. We couldn’t get the second and third rounds up, so I just seriously got a tweet on twitter and someone said you’ve just been drafted to Atlanta and I couldn’t believe it. Some guy who I don’t even know said [on twitter] you have been drafted. Myself and my manager had been speaking to a couple of teams who had shown a little bit of interest, so I was thinking if I was going to get drafted it would be late third round.”4
Later on draft-day the Atlanta Dream traded Jarry and a second round 2012 draft pick to Minnesota Lynx in exchange for the rights to Felicia Chester who Minnesota had selected with pick 14 at the 2011 WNBA draft, four selections before Jarry.
Bulleen had retained a remarkably stable roster during Jarry’s first two seasons with the club in 2009/10 and 2010/11 however there were several changes for the 2011/12 season due to retirement, injury and players changing clubs. Penaluna missed the entire season due to a knee reconstruction, Zavecz left to play in Europe, O’Hea joined cross-town rivals the Dandenong Rangers and 2010/11 co-captains Milner and Glaubitz both retired.
On Bulleen’s expectations at the start of the 2011/12 season after so many changes to the roster Jarry commented “It was like the unknown for us as well, we have got so many young players, so many players who maybe haven’t quite made it at other clubs. We went away to China before the season and we had three amazing games over in China, we got one win, a draw and a loss. But to win over in China it is huge, against their national team. So after that we sort of had that belief that we can get to another a Grand Final.”
Despite the change in personnel and several players spending prolonged periods on the sidelines injured Bulleen maintained their status as one of the strongest teams in the WNBL. The three additions to the starting line-up for Bulleen in 2011/12 were point guard Sam Richards, Great Britain import, shooting guard Joannah Leedham, and forward Alice Kunek who had played limited minutes for the Boomers off the bench the previous season.
In the middle of the 2011/12 WNBL season Jarry played for Bulleen in their win against Townsville at the Vento Club on Friday 6 January. The following day Jarry attended a 20/20 cricket match at the MCG and had a rare night out after the cricket, going to a bar with friends, however Jarry wasn’t drinking. After they had left the bar Jarry and a friend, journalist Megan Hustwaite were walking back to Rachel’s car at Federation Square when they were robbed and assaulted by a group of five people just before 2am on Sunday 8 January. Speaking to Melbourne radio station 3AW about the attack Rachel said when they were walking back to her car “We were approached by a group of five, males and females, just set upon, they took all our belongings and just repeatedly assaulted and bashed us really.” When asked ‘did they say anything to you when they approached you?’ Rachel responded “They were demanding to see what we had in our bags, asking to see if we had money and that sort of thing. They weren’t aggressive at the beginning but it just escalated and we knew we were in a bit of trouble at that point.” Speaking to The Age Jarry said “I still can’t believe it happened. I feared for my life. I can honestly say the Olympics didn’t go through my mind at that point. Fearing for your life is a level above your career. Once we got out of it and I realised nothing was broken I knew I’d be all right.” Jarry went on to say ‘‘Physically (I’m) okay, it will take me maybe a couple of days (to recover). Emotionally is probably going to be the tougher one. I’ll be seeking counselling.”5 Although suffering from bruising from the attack Jarry was able to play Bulleen’s next game and played all 24 of Bulleen’s WNBL games in 2011/12. Although Bulleen lost two of their last three games of the regular season they finished second on the ladder with a record of 15 wins and seven losses, three games behind the minor premiers Adelaide and one game ahead of Dandenong.
Speaking to Neil Mitchell from 3AW in early July 2012 Rachel’s mum Nicole reflected on how Rachel had overcome the attack by the group of five in January, saying “She was down for a week or so, I think the best thing was the Bulleen team all rallied around her, the girls on that team were absolutely fantastic, they got her through it. We all went to Sydney to watch her play the next week. She played a great game and came off the court sort of a bit emotional, and I think that helped get it out of the system.”
Bulleen won a thrilling major semi final 73 points to 70 against an Adelaide side that featured that season’s WNBL MVP Suzy Batkovic as well as future WNBL MVP Abby Bishop. Jarry spent much of the game defending Suzy Batkovic who at 193 centimetres tall is eight centimetres taller than Jarry at 185cm, Jarry’s ability to limit the influence Batkovic had in the post was a key factor in the Boomers getting the win.
In the Preliminary Final Dandenong outscored Adelaide by 26 points from the one minute mark of the third quarter until the end of the game, turning a 13 point deficit into a 13 point victory to set up the first all-Victorian WNBL Grand Final since 1987.
When appearing on the 2011/12 Grand Final edition of WNBL iTV host Darren Boyd asked Jarry “Do you feel any sense of history or are you more a one match at a time kind of person?” Rachel responded “I am a one match at a time kind of person, but it is huge for our club, we have got so many volunteers, and juniors and all that kind of thing, and it really is good to reward them, this is going to be my third Grand Final and I am only 20 years old, so I feel really lucky to have played at such a successful era in the Bulleen club.”
Bulleen defeated Dandenong in all three encounters during the 2011/12 season and had a long winning streak over their cross-town rivals, however Dandenong reached the Grand Final in better form, having won eight games in a row. Starting point guard Sam Richards missed the semi final win against Adelaide due to a calf injury but returned for the Grand Final. The Bulleen Boomers had a great start to lead 11 points to four, three and a half minutes into the opening quarter, however the Dandenong Rangers dominated the next 10 minutes of play to gain the ascendancy, going on a 30 points to six run to lead by 17 points, 34 to 17 with six and a half minutes left in the first half. Whilst Bulleen reduced the lead to a low single figure margin for several minutes early in the third quarter Dandenong recorded a comfortable victory by 24 points, 94 points to 70. Jarry scored 14 points, ranked second for the Boomers behind Cambage with 22 points.
In 2011/12 Jarry played all 24 games for the Bulleen Boomers, averaging 15.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 33.4 minutes per game. Jarry ranked second at Bulleen behind Cambage for points, rebounds and blocked shots, second for assists behind Sam Richards, second for steals behind Johanna Leedham, and led the team for minutes played. Jarry ranked 11th in the WNBL for points per game, equal 10th for rebounds, 16th for assists, equal 16th for total steals and equal 19th for blocks and was one of only six players to rank in the top 20 of the WNBL in all five categories along with Suzy Batkovic, Belinda Snell, Abby Bishop, Jenna O’Hea and Tess Madgen. Jarry was rewarded for her outstanding all-round season with selection in the WNBL All-Star five, which due to a tie actually had six players in it for the first time in the award’s history, with Jarry being joined by Kathleen McLeod, Shanavia Dowdell, Belinda Snell, Suzy Batkovic and Bulleen team-mate Sam Richards.
Jarry decided not to play in the WNBA during 2012 to increase her availability for Australian Opals training camps and tours, maximising her chances of being selected in the team for the 2012 Olympics.
Jarry was part of the 15 player Australian Opals squad that played in ‘The Farewell Series’ comprised of three games against Brazil in Victoria during June 2012. Shortly before the announcement of the Olympic Games team, in an interview with Basketball Australia for Countdown – Episode 6 Jarry commented on her rise into contention for an Olympics berth “Yeah, it has been definitely a whirlwind, I think if you had of told me two years ago that everything that would happen to me in the next two years would have happened I wouldn’t have believed you. I just think I have coped fine and just sort of taken it in my stride, sometimes I have to pinch myself but it is all very exciting. There is such a great culture in the Australian Opals, everyone is very welcoming and we all just want to train hard. I just love training against such amazing players that I have looked up to all my whole life, so it is great.” On the motivation that the London Olympics provided to her Jarry said “I think if an Olympics opportunity doesn’t keep you motivated then nothing will. For me every training, every session, every strength and conditioning session I am doing the Olympics is always in the back of my mind, every meal I eat, everything I do, I think I have done everything possible so far that I could have done. The Olympics is the main goal.”
In early July 2012 Jarry was named in the Australian Opals 12 player squad for the Olympic Games in London, at 20 years of age Jarry was the youngest member of the squad, and one of only three squad members under 24 years of age, along with fellow 20 year-old and long-time WNBL team-mate Liz Cambage and 23 year-old forward/centre Abby Bishop. Other members of the Opals squad were guards Kristi Harrower, Sam Richards, Belinda Snell and Kathleen MacLeod, guards/forwards Jenna O’Hea and Jennifer Screen and power forwards/centres Lauren Jackson, Suzy Batkovic and Laura Hodges. The Opals 2012 Olympic Games team contained 10 players that played in the WNBL during the 2011/12 season including all five Australian members (Dowdell was an import from America) of the 2011/12 WNBL All-Star five which Jarry was a part of. The only two Opals in the Olympic team that didn’t play in the WNBL during the 2011/12 season were Jackson and Hodges. Hodges retuned to the WNBL in 2012/13 with the Adelaide Lightning, and Jackson signed with the Canberra Capitals but ended up missing the entire season due to injury.
Australia had a comfortable 16 point win over Great Britain in their opening Group B match at the 2012 Olympics in London, however their four remaining group matches were decided by less than 10 points. Losing their second game in overtime to France by four points, followed by three consecutive wins, against Brazil by six points, Russia by four points and Canada by nine points.
France finished top of group B, winning all five of their group matches, Australia finished second and played the third ranked team from Group A, China in the Quarter Finals. Australia defeated China by 15 points, 75-60 to advance to a semi final against the USA. Jarry played her best game of the tournament in the semi final against the USA, scoring five points, having a game-high five assists, and took six rebounds, ranked third for the Opals behind Jackson and Cambage. Australia led the USA by four points at half-time, 47-43 but were outplayed in the second half and lost the game by 13 points 73-86. It was the fifth consecutive Olympic Games that the United States had beaten Australia, having also won a semi final in 1996 before defeating the Opals in three consecutive Olympic gold medal games in 2000, 2004 and 2008.
The Australian Jayco Opals defeated Russia by nine points, 83-74 in the bronze medal game resulting in the Opals extending their medal winning sequence to five Olympic games. Jarry scored eight points in the bronze medal game, her most of the tournament, made three of her four field goal attempts and took three rebounds.
In eight games for Australia at the 2012 London Olympics Jarry averaged 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.9 assists, and 16.6 minutes per game. Jarry made 13 of her 28 field goal attempts during the tournament for an accuracy of 46.4%, ranked fifth for Australia and took 12 offensive rebounds, ranked third for the Opals behind Suzy Batkovic and Jenna O’Hea with 15 and 14 respectively. Jarry exceeded expectations during the Olympics, impressing with her versatility, strong defense and combination of athleticism and physicality. The confidence that Australia’s coaches including head coach Carrie Graf had in Jarry increased over the course of the Olympics and in the final three games, the quarter final, semi final and bronze medal game Jarry played at least 18 minutes in each game.
In May 2013 after she joined WNBA side Minnesota Lynx Jarry reflected on being a part of the Australian Jayco Opals bronze medal winning team at the 2012 Olympics “The bronze medal and playing in the Olympics was you know the biggest moment in my career so far, and a pinnacle for basketball, getting to the Olympics, so that was a special moment for me.”
Only two of Bulleen’s starters from 2011/12 were retained by the club for 2012/13, Jarry and Kunek, with the other three starters from 2011/12 Cambage, Richards and Leedham all leaving the WNBL to play in an overseas league. Jarry’s ex-AIS team-mate, guard Tess Madgen was recruited by the Boomers from Bendigo, Elyse Penaluna returned after missing the entire 2011/12 season with a knee reconstruction and Hollie Florance (nee Grima) returned after missing several WNBL seasons due to starting a family. AIS recruit, Rebecca Allen was another valuable addition to the Boomers line-up in the off-season.
The AIS left the WNBL after the 2011/12 season, resulting in the number of teams in the league falling from 10 to nine and the number of finalists being reduced from five to four for 2012/13. The Bulleen Boomers finished 2012/13 season in fifth position with 10 wins and 14 losses, three wins behind fourth placed Townsville.
In 2012/13 Jarry played all 24 games for the Bulleen Boomers, averaging 14.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 32.0 minutes per game. Jarry led Bulleen for points and rebounds per game, and ranked second for assists behind Madgen, second for blocks behind Florance and second for steals behind Allen. Jarry led the team in minutes played for the second season in a row and ranked 10th in the WNBL for points per game, seventh for rebounds and 15th for assists, sixth for total blocks and 15th for total steals. Jarry was one of only two players to rank in the top 15 of the league in all five categories along with Dandenong Rangers guard Jenna O’Hea.
On 11 February 2013 Rachel Jarry signed to play with Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA two years after she had been drafted by the club. Minnesota had won the 2011 WNBA Championship against Atlanta three games to nil and lost the 2012 WNBA finals to Indiana one game to three. Whilst it was going to be magnificent for Rachel’s basketball development playing for such a strong team and organisation, the depth of talent on the Minnesota Lynx roster meant that her playing opportunities were likely to be limited during her debut WNBA season.
The climate in Minnesota was very different to what Rachel was used to in Australia and during her first few days in Minnesota she saw snow for the first time. At the Minnesota Lynx 2013 Media Day Jarry was asked “You have been in the WNBL for five years, how has that helped you in this experience.” Jarry responded “It is definitely helpful, I am probably not a traditional rookie in that I have had professional experience, I have played in the Olympics, I have played against a few of these girls before and that kind of thing so I think that holds me in good stead. It just helps me with my understanding of basketball and how a professional team works and that kind of thing.”
On 18 May 2013 Rachel made her WNBA debut at 21 years of age against the Washington Mystics in a 17 point win 74-57, she scored 11 points, had three rebounds, two assists and one steal. Jarry’s shooting was a strength, making three of four field goal attempts and all five free-throws on debut. Rachel was the fourth youngest player in the WNBA during 2013 and the youngest to play for Minnesota in five seasons. Jarry played 27 games for the Minnesota Lynx during the regular season, averaging 1.7 points, 0.7 rebounds, 0.4 assists and 6.8 minutes per game. Of the seven games that Jarry missed, six of them were due to the coaches decision to not give her any court-time and she missed one game against San Antonio with a sprained right ankle. Jarry scored a season high 14 points against Seatle on August 31, making five of her six field goal attempts and all three free-throws. Jarry made six of her 10 three-pointers during the regular season for an accuracy of 60%. The Minnesota Lynx finished on top of the Western Conference standings with 26 wins and eight losses during the regular season.
Minnesota defeated Seattle in the Western Conference semi final and Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals, winning both series two games to nil, Jarry played one game in each series. In October 2013 Minnesota Lynx defeated Atlanta Dream 3-0 in the 2013 WNBA Finals to win the WNBA Championship with Jarry playing court-time in all three games. It was Minnesota’s second WNBA title in the club’s hictory, having previously won two years earlier in 2011. Jarry became the eighth Australian to play on a championship winning team in the WNBA, joining Lauren Jackson, Tully Bevilaqua, Penny Taylor, Belinda Snell, Alison Lacey, Abby Bishop and Erin Phillips. After Minnesota won the WNBA Championship on 10 October Australian Opals head-coach Brendan Joyce commented on Jarry to Basketball Australia “The experience of being in a team that plays in the WNBA playoffs, let along wins the title will do wonders for her development and preparation for the WNBL season and the Opals program.”6
Between the 2012/13 and 2013/14 WNBL seasons three significant changes took place for the Boomers, changing their name from the Bulleen Boomers to the Melbourne Boomers and also changing their home venue and head-coach. Tom Maher who had been the Boomers head-coach for four seasons from 2009/10 to 2012/13 left the club to accept an appointment as coach of the Chinese national women’s basketball team. The Boomers moved to a new venue, the State Basketball Centre in Wantirna South which had been opened in 2012. During Jarry’s first four seasons with the Boomers from 2009/10 to 2012/13 the club had played their home games at the Venato Club in Bulleen.
Early in the 2013/14 season Jarry injured her knee, the injury restricted to playing a total of just three games for the Melbourne Boomers during the WNBL season, averaging 8.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 24.3 minutes per game. Although undermanned the Melbourne Boomers defied the odds to make the finals, finishing fourth with a record of 14 wins and 10 losses. The Boomers played well in an away semi final against Townsville but were overpowered in the end, being defeated 78-73.
Although restricted by her knee injury Jarry attended the first three Australian Opals basketball camps of 2014 and returned to full training at an Australian Opals camp in June 2014. Just before the June 2014 camp Opals head-coach Brendan Joyce commented “It’s been a long time coming for Rachel and it’s great for her, and the squad, to have her back in full training. Despite her injury, Rachel has stayed committed to the Jayco Opals program, attending every camp and that will stand her in good stead to transition smoothly into our system.”7
Jarry was selected in the Opals 12 player team for the 2014 World Championships held in Turkey during September and October. Several players that had played for the Opals during the 2012 Olympics had retired, were injured or were unavailable, including Kristi Harrower and Jennifer Screen (both retired), Lauren Jackson (injured) and Suzy Batkovic and Jenna O’Hea (both unavailable). Although Australia were the number 2 ranked women’s basketball country in the world they were on the same half of the draw as the number 1 ranked nation, the United States of America, whilst the third ranked country Spain were on the other half of the draw. In an Opals warm-up game against the USA just over a week before the start of the World Championships Australian centre Liz Cambage ruptured her Achilles tendon which forced her to miss not just the 2014 World Championships but also the 2014/15 WNBL season with the Dandenong Rangers. Bendigo Spirit centre Gabe Richards joined the Opals in Turkey as a late replacement for Cambage. Only three players from the Australian Jayco Opals 2012 Olympic team also represented Australia at the 2014 World Championships, Jarry, shooting guard Belinda Snell and forward Laura Hodges. Other members of the Australian team at the 2014 World Championships were point guards, Erin Phillips, Leilani Mitchell and Tessa Lavey, guard/forwards Penny Taylor and Rebecca Allen, forward/centres Natalie Burton, Cayla Francis and Gabe Richards, and centre Mariana Tolo.
At her second major championships 22 year-old Jarry was the third youngest member of the Australian team after Tessa Lavey and Rebecca Allen who were both 21 years old. Rachel played a prominent role for the Australian Opals at the 2014 World Championships, being part of the Opals starting line-up in every game alongside Erin Phillips, Penny Taylor, Laura Hodges and Mariana Tolo.
In the opening game of the tournament, a 90-57 win against Cuba Jarry played a team-high 23 minutes 47 seconds, scored 13 points, ranked second for the Opals behind Penny Taylor with 19 points, and had an equal team-high six rebounds. Jarry shot the ball well, making made four of eight field goals and five out of her six free throws.
In the Australian Jayco Opals third Group match at the 2014 World Championships, a 87-45 win against Belarus Jarry scored a game-high 19 points, seven points more than the second ranked player in the game, Belarus’ Yelena Leuchanka, Jarry also had two rebounds, two assists, one blocked shot and three steals to be ranked second in the game behind Erin Phillips with six. Whilst there wasn’t a particular incident that led to the injury Jarry’s knee started causing her pain after the game against Belarus. Whilst Jarry was able to play out the tournament and continue in her role as starter for the Opals her mobility was being affected in the second half of games.
Australia won all three of their Group C games, having also defeated Korea 87-54 in their second game. In the quarter-final Canada provided far tougher opposition than Australia’s group C opponents and after leading by only two points at quarter-time the Opals controlled the second quarter 17-7 to set up a 63-52 victory.
The semi final between the USA and Australia was tight during the first term, with the Opals trailing by three points at quarter-time, however USA dominated the second quarter 23 to 14 to lead 42-30 at half-time. Australia kept pace with the USA after half-time with both teams scoring 40 points in the second half, resulting in USA winning 82-70.
Australia started the bronze-medal game against hosts, Turkey in the best possible fashion, after Australia scored the first 17 points of the game they were never threatened, winning 74-44. Although Jarry started the game she was restricted to a total of six minutes and 28 seconds court-time due to her knee injury, scoring two points and having three rebounds during this time. Jarry commented on her knee injury “I just got sharp pain in my knee and couldn’t run. I’m not sure if it happened in the Belarus game or not. Our medical staff did their best and managed it so I could stay on court for the rest of the tournament.” Jarry went on to say “There is never any thought in my head about not playing and doing everything I can to contribute to the team. I was usually fine for the first half of matches but once adrenaline wore off I’d struggle to get going again. In the bronze-medal game I couldn’t move after five minutes in the first quarter, so I’m grateful the team was in such a good position and won the game.”8
Jarry started all six games for Australia at the World Championships and played at least 16 minutes court-time in each of the first five games, however with her mobility severely limited after five minutes of the bronze-medal game against Turkey Jarry played less than seven minutes in total for the game. In six games Jarry averaged 7.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks and 19.5 minutes per game. Jarry was ranked fourth for minutes played, points scored and blocked shots, led the team in free throws made and ranked equal third for steals.
The USA defeated Spain 77-64 to win the gold medal at the 2014 World Championships. Australia were clearly one of the best three teams at the tournament along with the USA and Spain and whilst USA had cemented their position as the number one women’s basketball nation in the world by defeating both Spain and Australia by over 10 points the matter of whether Australia or Spain were the second best nation was left unresolved given that they had similar results during the tournament and didn’t get to play against each other. Hopefully the women’s basketball draw at the Olympics will be like a tennis draw where the top two ranked participants are placed on opposite sides of the draw and if these two participants keep on winning the only time they can play each other is in the final or in the case of the Olympics the gold-medal match.
It was Jarry’s second medal for Australia at major senior championship, following the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics. The Australian Opals have won a medal at nine of their past 10 major championships from the 1996 Olympics, comprised of one gold medal, four silver medals and four bronze medals. The only major championship during this time that Australia have not won a medal is the 2010 World Championships where they finished fifth after their losing quarter-final to the host nation, the Czech Republic.
In October 2014 Jarry had knee surgery and was ruled out for the rest of the 2014/15 WNBL season. Melbourne Boomers head coach Guy Molloy commented on Jarry’s season ending injury “I just feel very frustrated and sad and angry and all of those things for Rachel. She’s a young player trying to get her career back going after making good traction pre-season. “And then I feel for the team. We’re a young team which needs her talent and leadership and the club needs her for her profile. For us she (Jarry) is not replaceable. She’s an Opal, an Olympian, a WNBL all-star. She understands me, the club, the program and how we play.”9
In the lead-up to the 2015 Oceania Championships against New Zealand the Australia Opals played a warm-up series against Japan comprised of three games in Victoria during late July. Jarry didn’t play in the first game at Dandenong Basketball Stadium on 27 July due to general soreness but made her return on 29 July in game 2 of the series at Frankston, being substituted into the game midway through the first quarter. Jarry finished the game with 13 points, five rebounds and two assists. After her comeback game for the Opals against Japan Jarry commented in a post-game interview on Basketball Australia’s YouTube channel “Exciting to be back out there, I have said during the week that I have been counting how long it has been since I played, so today was 294. The coaches made me wait that two extra days (instead of playing on Monday night) so it was good to get out there with the girls and get that good win. It’s interesting because when you are injured for so long you work on things such as your one on zero moves and you practice things that aren’t normally in your game so I think I have come back with a little bit bigger skill set than what I had.” Jarry’s previous basketball game had been for Australia in the bronze-medal game against Turkey at the 2014 World Championships. On playing again after an extended period on the sidelines injured Jarry said “I was a bit nervous but I have been doing a bit of work with a sports psychologist on putting that (nerves) aside and getting down to business. The first time you are out there you start blowing a bit, then you get your second wind and it is all good. Oh god I just love playing so I am just so glad to be back out there.”
Rachel is an avid sports fan in general and a passionate supporter of the St Kilda Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL). On 28 July, the day before the Opals game 2 against Japan in Frankston the 15 player Australian Jayco Opals squad for the series against Japan were provided with access to the facilities at St Kilda’s headquarters, the Linen House centre in Seaford. In an interview with saints.com.au Jarry commented on her support of the Saints and her experience at the Linen House Centre “I love the Saints. I’ve been to all the Grand Finals and I’m nuts about it. I’m stoked to be here today, that’s for sure. It’s hard to go past Nick Riewoldt [as my favourite player]. I just got a photo with him and I was so red. It was amazing to meet him.”10 Riewoldt is an all-time great of the St Kilda Football Club, having won a club record six best and fairest awards and is ranked fifth on the club’s all-time games list with 298 games. In the days before Riewoldt’s 300th AFL game an article will be published on Milestonesandmisses.com comprehensively covering his incredible AFL career. The fact that Rachel went red meeting someone she idolises in Riewoldt highlights how grounded she has remained despite already achieving so many of her career goals and establishing herself as one of Australia’s best basketball players.
Speaking about the make-up of Australia’s 12 player team for the 2015 Oceania Championship in an interview on Basketball Australia’s YouTube channel in the week before the two-game series against New Zealand Jarry said “I think it is awesome, we have got a great mix of older, experienced players and some new girls coming through, I think there are four Olympians on this team, five WNBA players, and girls who are debuting.” On what was it stake during the Oceania Championships Jarry commented “All year our preparation we have played different teams, but we know that it doesn’t mean anything unless we come out and beat New Zealand, so we have gone through a few of their players, we know their players pretty well so I think we will be well prepared for Saturday.”
In game one of the Oceania Series on 15 August Australia defeated New Zealand 61-41 at Rod Laver Arena, restricting New Zealand to just five points in the opening quarter. A double-header was played at Rod Laver on the mid-August Saturday night with game 1 of the Women’s Oceania Series followed by game 1 of the same series for Men, also between Australia and New Zealand. The double header at Rod Laver Arena was a sell-out attracting more than 15,000 people and at the time of tip-off for the Women’s game the crowd had already reached 11,500.
The two teams travelled to New Zealand for game 2 of the 2015 women’s Oceania series in Tauranga, Australia and New Zealand were locked at 14 points apiece at quarter-time before the Opals gained the ascendancy in a high scoring second term in which they outscored New Zealand 26-19. The Opals won both terms in the second half to win 80-63 and qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
At the 2015 Oceania Championships Jarry played both games against New Zealand in mid-August, averaging 8.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 20 minutes per game. Jarry ranked equal third for Australia for points scored with Tessa Lavey, behind Suzy Batkovic (15.5) and Laura Hodges (13.0), third for assists behind Tessa Lavey (6.0) and Tess Madgen (4.5), equal fifth for rebounds and fifth for minutes played.
A new club the SEQ Stars based in South East Queensland suburb Logan joined the WNBL for the 2015/16 season. Rachel Jarry was the second player signed by the SEQ Stars after fellow Opal Erin Phillips. When asked on a SEQ Basketball video ‘What makes you excited about joining SEQ Basketball?’ Rachel responded “I am really excited, obviously a new club and a new opportunity, I think it is great to have a professional women’s team up here that young girls can look up to and have that pathway up here in (South East) Queensland. So really looking forward to being a part of it.”
Jarry was named co-captain of the SEQ Stars along with guard Amy Lewis, with SEQ head-coach Shane Heal commenting “They are both such hard workers and will help set and maintain the culture of our team. Both ladies tick all the boxes for the traits we want to stand by this season and help us navigate our way through the year. Rachel’s attitude and determination coming back from her knee injury is inspiring and I know she is going to have a huge year personally.”11
Speaking to the WNBL’s official game program ‘Spotlight’ for the Round 3 edition for the 2015/16 season Jarry commented on being co-captain of the SEQ Stars with Amy Lewis “On the court I’ve always been a bit of a natural leader in the way that I lead by example and I’m pretty vocal within the side so I try to instil those values into the rest of the team. Off the court is something that I’ve had to learn a bit more about in terms of organisation and thinking about how each of the girls are feeling. You’ve got to be more selfless and Amy Lewis, my co-captain, is really good at that so we have a good balance.”12
From the end of the 2012/13 WNBL season until the start of the 2015/16 season Jarry had played only three games in the league, all in the 2013/14 season. During this time she had been a key performer for the Australian Opals at the 2014 World Championships and the 2015 Oceania Championships. However Jarry would be required to play significantly more minutes per game for the SEQ Stars than she does for the Opals, which would provide another test for her knee.
Any concerns about how Jarry’s knee would cope with the demands of the increased game-time in the WNBL were put aside very early in the season when she scored 19 points or more in four of her first six games and played more than 39 minutes in a game twice during this period including the full 40 minutes in the Round 2 game against the Dandenong Rangers on the road. Jarry was named the WNBL’s Round 4 Player of the Week for her outstanding performance in SEQ’s overtime win against Sydney, 97 to 89. Jarry was dominant in the five minute extra period, scoring SEQ’s first six points of the period comprised of a three-point play and a three-pointer, she also had had two rebounds and a steal in overtime. Jarry finished the game with 27 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and blocked one shot. Rachel shot the ball superbly, making nine of her 15 field goals and was very damaging with her jump shot, making several jump shots from around the free-throw line and was successful with two of her three-pointers, Rachel was also a perfect seven from seven at the free-throw line.
When asked in the Round 5 post-game press conference ‘what was it like to be back at the State Basketball centre playing against Melbourne’ Jarry responded “Yeah it was good, unfortunately I didn’t really get to play a whole lot of games on this court for Melbourne but it was good to be here. I think the Boomers have done an awesome job this season getting fans in, so they’re going to be a tough team for the rest of the season, yeah it was good to be here again.”
The WNBL had a week off between Rounds 13 and 14 to enable the Australian Opals to participate in a test-event in Rio for the Olympic Games. Although players currently playing in overseas leagues could not be considered for the test-event in Rio, Basketball Australia were still able to send a strong 12 player squad comprised of 11 WNBL players and Erin Phillips who missed the WNBL season due to injury. Nine of the squad members having represented Australia at a major championship (Olympic Games or World Championship) previously, being: Rebecca Allen, Suzy Batkovic, Bishop, Natalie Burton, Cayla George, Rachel Jarry, Tessa Lavey, Leilani Mitchell and Erin Phillips. The three squad members without major championship experience were Katie-Rae Ebzery, Stephanie Talbot and Sara Blicavs who came into the squad as a late replacement for Tess Madgen who was ruled out due to an ankle injury.
During the test event Australia played three games in three days, easily defeating Argentina by 50 points and Venezuela by 80 points in the first two games. In the lead-up to the Rio Olympics Jarry has been writing blogs for Rio2016.Olympics.com.au “The Official Home of the 2016 Australian Olympic team”. Jarry’s latest blog published on 28 January 2016 was on the Opals test event in Rio. Below is an excerpt from Rachel’s blog about the Opals final game of the test event.
“Game 3 was always going to be our toughest against the host nation, Brazil. We got off to a great defensive start and Brazil found it very hard to score. The game was physical and tough but we stuck it out and eventually ran out 10 point winners, holding off a late charge from Brazil. We probably didn’t shoot as well as we normally would and we also had quite a few turnovers which are areas we will look to improve on when we come back together later in the year.”13
A link to Rachel’s blog on the Rio test event is below:
The Australian Opals were the winners of the test event, having won each of their three games. The experience of participating in the Rio test event, familiarising themselves with the Olympic precinct and the venue where the Olympic finals will be held and also testing themselves against quality opposition in Brazil will be of great benefit for the Opals Rio Olympic campaign. Jarry started all three games for the Opals and averaged 7.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Rachel was selected in the WNBL team of the week for the second time of the season in Round 14, earning the selection with 31 points and seven rebounds from 28 minutes court-time in a 115-75 win against Canberra. Jarry’s shooting was phenomenal, making 13 of her 18 field goal attempts for an accuracy of 72%, and was even better from long range making 80% of her three-pointers comprised of four from five attempts.
On Wednesday 3 February 2016 Basketball Australia issued a press release which said;
“The WNBL Club, South East Queensland Stars (SEQ) has been placed into liquidation.
Basketball Australia was advised of the situation today and is working with the club, the liquidator and the Australian Basketballer’s Association to ensure the best possible outcome for the players.
Anthony Moore, CEO of Basketball Australia (BA) said that “We are bitterly disappointed with this news as we had high hopes for SEQ. Of course our primary concern is for the players.”
Basketball Australia is working through the implications of the circumstance and will provide more details in the coming days.”14
Whilst the SEQ Stars had been performing well on the court during the 2015/16 season it was an entirely different matter off the court with the club falling well short of the sponsorship support and crown attendances they expected to achieve in their debut season. At the time of being placed into liquidation the SEQ Stars were fifth on the ladder with a record of 11 wins and eight losses. Whilst it was initially feared that SEQ would never play again Basketball Australia issued a press release on Thursday 4 February stating that the SEQ Stars would be able to play out the season, an excerpt from this press release is below;
“The WNBL club, South East Queensland (SEQ) Stars will continue to play for the remainder of the season.
Basketball Australia is delighted to announce that, as a result of a swift and intensive collaboration with Logan City Council on behalf of their local team, the SEQ Stars will continue to play throughout the remainder of the WNBL season.
“Through discussions with Logan City Council CEO, Chris Rose, we have reached a position that will see the Stars play their last five games of the year and be eligible for finals should they qualify,” said Basketball Australia CEO Anthony Moore.
Basketball Australia is extremely grateful for the support of LaTrobe Financial, Griffith University, Basketball Queensland, Chair of the Logan City Sports Committee Russell Lutton and State Government Members to enable the Stars to play out the rest of the regular season.”15
To read this press release in its entirety click on the link below:
One of the conditions of the rescue package from one of the sponsors contributing money was that Shane Heal wasn’t able to continue in his role as head-coach of the SEQ Stars. Heal commented “I’m advised that there is a sponsor contributing these needed funds, with one of the conditions being that I don’t continue as coach for the rest of the season. I’m just happy that the team will be able to finish the season and while I’m obviously disappointed, the game is bigger than one person.”16 Megan Thompson who had been an assistant coach for SEQ Stars during the 2015/16 season took over the role as the club’s head coach for the remainder of the season.
In the post-game press-conference following the Round 16 victory against Adelaide Jarry said “It’s been a rough couple of days and you know it has brought us super close as a team, it’s just been really emotional but we are so grateful that the sponsors have come on board and we are going to be able to finish out the season. We are going to give it our best shot, we are playing for finals now.”
When asked on Radio Station ABC Brisbane on 12 February 2016 Jarry commented on why the crowds at SEQ games have been lower than expected, saying “I think it takes time, and also not being on TV, that’s a big one for the whole league, that’s what brings in sponsors, it brings in people watching on TV that don’t normally watch us, that’s what Basketball Australia has to look towards.” Jarry was asked ‘Take us through the last week, when did you have an idea that things were really pear shaped for the club?’ Rachel responded ‘’I got a call on Wednesday from our owner (Jarrod Sierocki) asking to get all the girls to a meeting in an hour following the phone call, that was very unusual so we sort of knew something was up at that point. Unfortunately before we got to the meeting it had been put out on twitter that we (SEQ Stars) had gone into liquidation, so we kind of found out that way. Then went to the meeting with our owners, with the liquidators, with Basketball Australia and talked through everything and obviously we were very keen for there to be a way to finish the season. As well as ruining our season it ruins the whole league really to have a team pull out two weeks before. Teams had sold tickets for games that they are playing against us and things like that and just threw the league into jeopardy. Thank goodness Basketball Australia, Logan City Council and a number of other sponsors came on board the next day. That Thursday just waiting around to know if we were going to play that weekend was really hard and a really emotional day.”
The SEQ Stars suffered another set-back when starting point-guard Lauren Mansfield was forced to miss the final two rounds of the regular season and the finals due to an ankle injury. Mansfield had been one of the revelations of the WNBL 2015/16 season ranking third in the league for assists per game. With Mansfield out injured Jarry has taken on more of the ball handling responsibilities, in SEQ’s final home game of the season against Canberra on February 14 Jarry had nine assists, the same number that the rest of her team-mates had combined for the game, and the equal of Mansfield’s highest assist tally in a game this season which was also against Canberra, on 22 October. Jarry also had a game-high five assists in the SEQ Stars final round victory against Dandenong.
As well as SEQ being placed into administration and changing head-coaches during the season changes occurred with the playing roster as well with the club’s first signing Erin Phillips not playing a game due to injury, import Denesha Stallworth departing the club mid-season and joining rival WNBL club the Canberra Capitals and being replaced on the Stars roster by another American import, Jordan Hooper. During the 2015/16 season the SEQ Stars have heavily relied on the first seven players in their rotation, with Mansfield out injured, this has reduced to six players, being Jarry, Amy Lewis, Rebecca Allen, Nadeen Payne and imports Ify Ibekwe and Jordan Hooper. One of the greatest strengths of SEQ’S semi final opponent the Dandenong Rangers has been their depth leading to a contrasting match-up. An SEQ Stars player has received the WNBL’s player of the week award three times being, Jarry (Round 4), Hooper (Round 11) and Mansfield (Round 14) whilst no Dandenong Rangers players received that award in 2015/16.
During the WNBL 2015/16 regular season Jarry played 23 of a possible 24 games for the SEQ Stars, averaging 14.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 31.0 minutes per game. Jarry ranks equal first at the SEQ Stars for total points with Mansfield, second for assists behind Mansfield, second for rebounds behind Ify Ibekwe and third for steals. With 32 three-pointers made in 2015/16 Jarry has easily surpassed her previous best of 18 in 2011/12, and has developed into one of the most accurate three point shooters in the league, having an accuracy of 47% comprised of 31 made from 66 attempts. Only two player in the WNBL that have made at least 10 three-pointers in 2015/16 has been more accurate than Jarry, Melbourne Boomers shooting guard Brittany Smart – 49% on 30 of 61 three pointers and Townsville shooting guard Natalie Novosel with 46% comprised of 26 three-pointers made from 57 attempts. Jarry’s versatility during the 2015/16 WNBL season remained a strength, ranking 16th in the league for points per game, 18th for rebounds, 21st for assists and 19th for total steals with 22.
On 25 February Basketball Australia named a 27 player squad that the attendees of four Australian Opals selection camps from March to July would be chosen from. Jarry was one of three SEQ Stars selected, being joined by Rebecca Allen and Lauren Mansfield. The squad included 21 players that played in the WNBL during the 2015/16 season along with six other players, Penny Taylor, Erin Phillips, Laura Hodges, Liz Cambage, Mariana Tolo and Lauren Jackson. Having approximately three quarters of the Australian Opals squad from the WNBL highlights the high standard of Australia’s premier Basketball league on the world stage, however the battle WNBL club’s such as the SEQ Stars face just to survive also indicate that improvement has to made quickly by the WNBL in the areas of attracting sponsors, crowds and TV coverage, which in turn impacts on the ability to retain Australian Opals calibre players in the WNBL.
Although just 24 years of age Rachel Jarry’s basketball career has been extremely eventful so far, already achieving many career highlights such as playing in a WNBL championship, a WNBA championship, being selected in the WNBL All-Star five and establishing herself as an integral member of the Australian Jayco Opals, winning a bronze medal at both the 2012 Olympic Games and 2014 World Championships. Despite these great successes Rachel has had to overcome setbacks and disappointments along the way such as the mental and physical pain from being assaulted at Federation Square in January 2012, and being restricted to a total of only three WNBL games in a two season period in 2013/14 and 2014/15 due to knee injuries. Jarry believes she still needs to work on her off-court leadership skills, however having so many different experiences thus far in her career, both positive and negative has her ideally placed to be able to relate to her team-mates and support them in any situation. Rachel has shown the ability to transform an aspect of her game she considers a weakness into a strength, after saying that she needed to work on her perimeter game fives years ago Jarry has emerged as one of the best three point shooters in the WNBL during the 2015/16 season. Rachel’s greatest strengths throughout her career have been her resilience, mental toughness and her ability to contribute to her team in so many facets of the game, whether it be scoring, rebounding, passing, the one percenters, defense or leadership, and adapt her game to what her team most needs from her. Tonight Jarry will play in a WNBL final for the first time since March 2012, whether they win or lose it will be a triumph for club and player given what the SEQ Stars and Jarry have had to overcome to return to the basketball court and then perform at an outstanding level to make the WNBL finals.
By Dean Andrews
Twitter – @DeanAndrews7777
12 Basketball Australia, Spotlight, Official Game Program, 22-25 October, 2015, page 4