Maddie Garrick’s journey from role player to starter and Boomers co-captain

Earlier this month on 11 June it was announced that shooting guard Maddie Garrick will be playing her sixth consecutive WNBL season with the Melbourne Boomers in 2020/21. Before joining the Boomers Garrick had been a role-player with the Bendigo Spirit and a significant reason for the change of clubs was to seek increased playing opportunities. Garrick made an instant impact in her first season with the Boomers in 2015/16, not just cementing a place in the starting line-up but winning the club’s MVP award. In her five seasons with the Boomers Garrick has consistently been among the league leaders for three-pointers made, making a total of 248 shots from behind the arc during this time, making more than 40 three-pointers in all five seasons.

In April 2018 Garrick began playing the newer 3×3 format of basketball and she quickly became a fixture in the Australian 3×3 side which has won several tournaments overseas including the 2019 FIBA Asia Cup.

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Maddie commented to wnbl.basketball on playing for the Melbourne Boomers in 2020/21 “I’m looking forward to building on from an exceptional season for the club last season (with a hint of unfinished business). I am looking forward to getting back to work more than ever after everything that’s happened in the world over the past months. I absolutely love playing for this club – the fans, the environment, the professionalism and also the culture that we have created amongst the team. These are just a few central reasons as to why I’ll be returning to the club for my 6th season, as well as continuing on in the role as co-captain.”1

At just 28 years of age Garrick has already amassed 239 games in the WNBL comprised of 43 games for the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), 79 games for the Bendigo Spirit and 117 games for the Boomers, having made her debut in 2009/10 at 17 years of age.

Garrick’s basketball career is comprehensively covered below including her 11 seasons in the WNBL and representing Australia at several FIBA 3×3 tournaments.

Early life start to WNBL career and anorexia

Madeleine Garrick was born on 1 April 1992 in Shepparton, her parents are dad Danny who is a paediatrician and mum Colleen and she has older two brothers. Madeleine grew up in the Goulburn Valley town of Toolamba, located  18 kilometres south of Shepparton and 180 kilometres north of Melbourne. In ‘Ask Me Anything’ episode 2 on Basketball Victoria’s Facebook page last week on 23 June Maddie commented “I was 11 when I started playing basketball which was a lot later than a lot my peers I played with. I only actually got into basketball because I have got two older brothers (James and Lachlan) and my parents had put them into an after school competition just for a bit of fun, social connection, just to play a sport and I copied absolutely everything that they did so I saw that they were playing and I had to obviously play myself and I fell in love with it straight away. I loved the way that the game was. I actually grew up playing netball and doing athletics and there was something about basketball that I felt I connected a lot better to the game but also connected a lot better to the people that were playing it and I loved that it had more freedom, you could dribble the ball and all that sort of stuff so that’s really how I got into playing basketball and I clearly haven’t looked back since.”

As a junior Garrick played basketball in Shepparton, going on to play representative basketball with the Shepparton Gators and also played representative basketball for the Bulleen Boomers in the Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL). Garrick achieved a significant goal by being selected for Vic Country at the under 16 and under 18 National Championships.

In an article for the Athlete’s Voice published on 12 August 2018 Maddie began by writing “I was 15 when I was selected to play in a national junior basketball tournament.

I came home to Shepparton, in country Victoria, thinking, ‘Damn I want to be so much better’.

I wanted to be fitter and stronger. I wanted to be a star. That was a trigger for me.

It was a new mindset and it highlighted what I didn’t like about myself. I started training all the time and watching what I was eating. I began cutting foods out and doing research on the internet, which can be a dangerous thing to do. As a young teen, I didn’t know what was right or wrong.

I already had a fast metabolism that would burn up energy. Now I was doing all of this extra training but not fuelling my body. I was starving it. I had developed an eating disorder.”2

Maddie went on to write “The physical effects of anorexia are very visible but it’s a mental illness. Worse than the dramatic changes to your body quite often are the thoughts in your head, because you have distorted views of yourself and your appearance.

I hated it whenever someone told me I looked skinny. It was often coming from my parents, because they were so concerned about me. I would feel compelled to work harder; they weren’t seeing what I saw.

This built up over time. I became really tired from running my body ragged and not eating. I was playing basketball and I was athletic but, as I became lighter, it became easier to get knocked around. I’d get frustrated at being tired and not being able to make shots I’d usually make. I couldn’t get to the basket like I once did because I had no energy, stamina or muscle.”3

Maddie made her WNBL debut at 17 years of age for the Bendigo Spirit in their opening game of the 2009/10 season on the road against the Dandenong Rangers, Garrick’s team-mates at Bendigo included Kristi Harrower who had represented the Australian Opals at three Olympic Games and later on competed at a fourth Olympics in 2012, and Kelly Wilson. In the lead-up to the 2009/10 season Garrick had trained with Bendigo for six weeks as part of an elite junior development program. At the time of making her WNBL debut Maddie was a year 11 student at Goulburn Valley Grammar in Shepparton. Training with the Bendigo Spirit required a 120 kilometre trip each way being made four times a week, Maddie spent the majority of this time studying in the car whilst mum, Colleen drove. In an interview with the Shepparton News days before making her WNBL debut with Bendigo Maddie commented “Training’s like nothing I have ever experienced before. I don’t expect to get a whole heap of court-time, but just the experience of training and watching from the sidelines matters first.”4

Maddie’s first stint with the Bendigo Spirit was short lived, playing just three games for the club before accepting a scholarship with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) which led to her changing WNBL clubs mid-season. Maddie’s best game playing for Bendigo had been against the AIS, scoring 10 points from 21 minutes court-time on 31 October, 2009. The change of teams was instigated when Garrick received a call from AIS head coach Phil Brown who offered her one of eight new spots in the program for 2010. The AIS team was comprised of players between 15 years and 19 years of age. Brown commented “Maddie’s caught the eye of national selectors with her performances for Vic Country and she’s going to bring a lot of athleticism and shooting skills to the perimeter. We see her as a ‘two-three’ player in a small-forward or shooting guard position. We’re excited about the talent she’s bringing in.”5 Maddie moved to Canberra in January 2010 to join the AIS, which involved training two to three times a day and playing with the AIS’ WNBL team.

On her relationship with food and on joining the AIS Garrick wrote in her Athlete’s voice article “It took a while for me to change my thought processes around food. I still had a lot of habits to break but I was making important strides. I went from seeing my own bones to wanting to be strong and healthy. It was one extreme to another.

I was well on track by the time I was 17 and took up a scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. It was so damn great because I had nutritionists, experts, the gym, recovery bar and everything at my fingertips. I was on my journey to becoming a professional athlete and it was absolute heaven.

I’m a big believer in things happening for a reason, that there’s always some kind of lesson in everything. I hit my low in life early – things couldn’t have got much worse – but I learned about myself, my body, the support of my family and a lot of other things from that dark time.

Today, I’m mentally stronger from my experience. I’m happy, healthy and I love food.”6

During the 2009/10 WNBL season Garrick played a total of nine games comprised of three for the AIS and six for Bendigo. Across the 2010/11 and 2011/12 seasons Garrick played a total of 40 games for the AIS, averaging 5.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.5 steals and 22.3 minutes per game. In her final season with the AIS in 2011/12 Garrick ranked sixth on the team for points per game and fifth for assists.

Maddie represented the Australian Gems in the Under 19 World Championships in Chile in July 2011 however she was hampered by an injury she suffered during a training session at a warm-up tournament, injuring the medial cruciate ligament as a result of a mid-air collision. Garrick played in Australia’s first three games of the World Championships but didn’t play any court-time in the last five games. The Australian Gems finished fourth at the tournament, losing the Bronze medal game to Brazil by three points, 67-70.

In the interview with ABC Shepparton Radio in July 2011 Garrick commented on playing at the AIS and how this had helped her “I was fortunate enough to receive an AIS scholarship last year, I don’t know how I would have gone if I hadn’t gone down that path with my basketball because doing Year 12 in Victoria and trying to travel to Bendigo or Melbourne to play basketball because there is no competition at the standard that I needed here in the local area. I was very fortunate to receive a scholarship and that has definitely helped me progress and become a better basketballer as well.”

Bendigo Spirit 2012/13 to 2014/15

In July 2012 Bendigo Spirit head coach Bernie Harrower commented on Garrick “She’s certainly somebody that we want in our squad. My discussions with her when she played for us last time before she left was always about her coming back to play for us. Hopefully, we can get that deal done in the next couple of weeks. We’d be excited about having her on our roster.”7 The Bendigo Spirit signed Garrick for the 2012/13 WNBL season, leading to the result that Bernie Harrower wanted with Garrick returning to the club after two and a half seasons away.

Bendigo displayed that they were a championship contender early in the 2012/13 season, winning six of their first seven games, thriving in pressure situations to win all four games decided by three points or less. The Spirit were then further strengthened when American import Kelsey Griffin joined the club and seamlessly fitted into an extremely strong Bendigo starting line-up with fellow front- court payers Gabe Richards and Chelsea Aubrey alongside guards Kristi Harrower and Kelly Wilson.

The three seasons Garrick spent with the Bendigo Spirit coincided with the most successful era in the club’s history with Bendigo making the Grand Final in all three-seasons. In 2012/13 Bendigo defeated Townsville by 14 points in the Grand Final at Bendigo Stadium to win the club’s first WNBL championship in it’s sixth season. The two sides met again in the 2013/14 Grand Final at the same venue and after leading by two points at three-quarter time Bendigo scored the opening nine points of the final quarter to set up an 11 point victory over Townsville to win back to back WNBL championships. Across the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons Bendigo’s aggregate record was a phenomenal 47 wins and five losses. In 2012/13 Maddie ranked sixth at Bendigo for three-pointers made with six and made a team-high 60% of her three-pointers for the season. During 2013/14 Maddie ranked fifth at Bendigo for three-pointers made with 13 and made a team-high 45% of her three-pointers for the season which again led the club for accuracy for players that made at least five shots behind the arc for the season. Maddie scored a season-high 14 points in Round 18 against the Melbourne Boomers.

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Three-time Olympian Belinda Snell joined Bendigo for the 2014/15 season. In Bendigo’s opening game of the 2014/15 season against Townsville Maddie played her 100th WNBL game at 22 years of age. Bendigo remained near the top of the WNBL ladder throughout the 2014/15 season but weren’t as dominant as they had been in the previous two seasons, recording 15 wins and seven losses to finish second, two games behind minor premiers Townsville and three games ahead of Dandenong in third place. For the third season in a row Bendigo played Townsville in the Grand Final, however this time Townsville were the hosts. Bendigo led the Grand Final by two points at quarter-time however a dominant 26-16 second quarter gained Townsville the ascendancy and they defeated Bendigo 75-65 to win their first ever WNBL championship 75-65. Garrick’s three point accuracy of 37% ranked second at the club for players that made at least five three-pointers just behind Snell’s 38%.

The strength of Bendigo’s starting line-up reduced the playing opportunities for the bench players including Garrick however her development as a player was assisted by being able to train with and learn from fellow guards Harrower and Wilson in all three seasons and guard/forward Snell in 2014/15.

From 2012 to 2014 Garrick played full seasons during winter in the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) and rapidly improved whilst playing for the Bendigo Braves during her first two seasons in the league, winning the 2013 SEABL Youth Player of the Year and finishing equal 11th in the SEABL MVP award in the same season. Garrick joined the Frankston Blues for the 2014 SEABL season and exceeded all expectations to win the SEABL MVP award, averaging 18.5 points and 6.7 rebounds in her 24 games. Garrick’s improvement in 2014 was the development of her perimeter game, making a league-high 41.9% of three-pointers and increasing her three-pointers made from 11 in 2013 to 54 in 2014. One of Garrick’s greatest strengths at 178 centimetre tall was her versatility, whilst best suited to playing as a shooting guard due to her speed, athleticism and shooting ability, she could also play as a small forward or point guard if required.

When accepting the 2014 SEABL MVP Award Garrick said “A goal for myself is to make a name for myself in the WNBL, become a starting player there, but obviously the main goal for a lot of players here, especially the women is to make an Australian side.”

During her three WNBL seasons at Bendigo from 2012/13 to 2014/15 Garrick was a role player for a dominant team, playing 73 games for the Spirit, averaging 3.9 points, 1.5 rebounds and 0.4 assists per game with her most court-time in her three seasons for the club being 11.1 minutes per game in 2014/15. Garrick left Bendigo after the 2014/15 season as she aimed to make the transition to becoming a starter in the WNBL.

Melbourne Boomers 2015/16 to 2019/20

In April 2015 Garrick signed a two-year contract with the Melbourne Boomers. Garrick commented  “It’s sort of like coming home for me because while I grew up in Shepparton I played in the Victorian Junior Basketball League for Bulleen Boomers for years. I’m really excited about this new chapter, [Boomers coach] Guy Molloy is a fantastic coach and you can see what he has done with the girls in the last couple of years. I’m really excited to work on my game and take the next step in my career.”8

Early in the 2015/16 season Garrick took on a far more prominent role than she was used to, starting for the Deakin Melbourne Boomers. Whilst the WNBL is higher standard of competition than the SEABL Maddie’s confidence was no doubt helped by her outstanding performances at SEABL level. Maddie settled into her new role brilliantly and in Round 4 was named in WNBL team of the week with Melbourne winning two games for the round, a victory on the road followed by a win on their home court, the State Basketball Centre in Wantirna South. Against Canberra at the AIS Arena in a Round 4 Saturday night game Garrick scored 17 points, took eight rebounds and made two steals, playing just under 31 minutes court-time in the 28 point win. In front of a massive crowd at the State Basketball Centre on Melbourne Cup Eve the Melbourne Boomers had an upset nine point victory against reigning WNBL Champions Townsville. Garrick played a key role in the victory, shooting the ball superbly to score 14 points, making six of her 10 field goal attempts, including two of her three three-pointers, Garrick also made five assists – ranked second for the game behind team-mate Tess Madgen with six.

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Garrick was named in the WNBL team of the week for the second time in the season in Round 10 with Melbourne again winning two games in for the round, a victory on the road followed by a win on their home court. In a five point Melbourne Boomers victory on the road against her former side Bendigo Spirit in Round 10 Garrick put on a sublime perimeter shooting exhibition, making seven of her 10 three pointers, highlighting just how dominant Garrick was from beyond the arc, only one other player in the game made more than two three-pointers, former team-mate and mentor Belinda Snell with four. Maddie scored a team-high 22 points, took seven rebounds and also excelled with her anticipation and quick hands to make four steals, the same number that her nine Boomers team-mates made for the game combined. The following day at the State Basketball Centre Maddie was again pivotal in the Melbourne Boomers getting another narrow victory by three points against Canberra, scoring 16 points, taking eight rebounds and making two assists.

On the road against Adelaide on 29 January Garrick had a nasty fall early in the second quarter injuring her chin and wrist. Garrick played out the game, playing 33 minutes and 22 seconds court-time and came close to getting a double-double, registering 10 points and eight rebounds. Maddie didn’t miss any games for the Boomers but had to play with tape over her chin and left wrist for several games.

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Melbourne finished the 2015/16 season in eighth place after recording eight wins and 16 losses, however their percentage of 94.1% highlighted how competitive they were, the Boomers were six games ahead of the University of Canberra Capitals who finished last in the nine team WNBL, and two games behind the seventh placed Adelaide Lightning. The Boomers lost several close games during the season after being in winning positions and were overrun in a couple of other games due to being undermanned due to injuries.

In her first season as a starter in the WNBL Garrick was one of only two players along with forward Alice Kunek that regularly started games for the Melbourne Boomers throughout the entire 2015/16 season as in the second half of the season fellow starters Tess Madgen and Elyse Penaluna were both hampered by injury, forcing the duo to miss six games each and have their court-time managed in some other games. Garrick flourished with the additional responsibility and in the last 13 games of the season scored more than 13 points nine times. For her impressive performances Garrick was selected in the WNBL team of the week twice in 2015/16 – Rounds 4 and 10. After making a total of 42 three-pointers in her first six WNBL seasons from 2009/10 to 2014/15 Garrick stamped herself as one of the best three point shooters in the league during the 2015/16 season, making 57 three-pointers – ranked third in the league during the regular season behind Sami Whitcomb and Belinda Snell. Maddie also ranked in the top 20 of the WNBL for total points scored during the 2015/16 regular season with 320, an increase of over 240% on her previous highest season tally of 130 with the AIS in 2011/12.

 

Earlier this month Garrick reflected on her first season with the Melbourne Boomers in 2015/16, commenting “Well I guess my main reason for moving from Bendigo to Melbourne was just the opportunity for more of an experience on-court. I had been a part, fortunately enough that we had won two out of three championships with the Bendigo Spirit and I had played alongside some incredible athletes, Olympians and that sort of thing. I just kind of was at the point in my career where I thought now I need to get more of a playing experience on court so I spoke to Guy and it kind of happened that I went from playing a role type player position to going straight into a starting position because of all the injuries that they had at the club at the time so I was kind of thrown in the deep end but that was the best part about it. Being thrown in there and having to learn and adapt to the game, just play really, so that was probably my real first experience of continual game-time that kind of helped me develop and grow. Just really going head first into it so that is kind of my first thought about coming to the Boomers and then the club has just been fantastic.”

During 2015/16 Garrick played all 24 games for Melbourne, averaging 13.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 31.0 minutes per game to easily set new personal bests in all four categories. Garrick led Melbourne for total points and total steals, ranked third for rebounds behind Elyse Penaluna and Alice Kunek and third for assists behind Tess Madgen and Kunek. The Melbourne Boomers were the only club in the WNBL that had four players make at least 30 three-pointers for the season, led by Garrick with 57, and followed by Kunek- 45, Madgen – 35 and Brittany Smart – 30. Maddie won the Boomers 2015/16 MVP award which was an outstanding achievement for any player, let alone one in their first season as a starter.

P1630172 - CopyMelbourne Boomers head coach Guy Molloy was full of praise for the way Maddie fitted in at the Boomers and her work ethic during her first season with the club, commenting “She’s a natural athlete, really quick reflexes, fast and explosive and I think she just fitted into the niche of where I’m trying to aim the program – which is to take youthful players on their way up and try and provide opportunity and the work to help move them along the path. I could tell she was a real gym rat and I just wanted that type of personality on my team – passionate and obsessive about their game. Maddie has an unquenched desire to improve, with the average player you’re always encouraging them to do a little extra but with Madds it’s ‘you could probably do with a day off today’ – she’s the other way.”9

Early in 2016 the Bulleen-Templestowe Basketball Club handed the license of the Melbourne Boomers back to the WNBL and there was considerable doubt about whether the Boomers would be able to continue in the WNBL in 2016/17 and beyond.

In May 2016 it was announced that the ownership of the Melbourne Boomers was being transferred to a new group including Tony Hallam, the Chairman of Marvel (then Etihad) Stadium. Australia’s greatest ever basketball player Lauren Jackson joined the club in an off-court executive role as Commercial Operations Manager. Maddie was one of the players along with Bec Cole representing the club at the announcement in their Melbourne Boomers singlets, alongside key Boomers staff members Guy Molloy, General Manager Justin Nelson and Lauren Jackson.

At the change of ownership announcement Hallam said “Our goal is to turn the Melbourne Boomers around within three years and, after that, we plan to invest any profits back into the team. Simply put, we’re doing this because the Boomers are worth saving. For thousands of girls who aspire to play at the elite level in Melbourne, the importance of the survival of the Melbourne Boomers is self-evident – they need access to a national competition. However, it’s not just about the elite. It’s about providing an opportunity to see and interact with wonderful, strong, healthy role models. It’s about the opportunity to feel the connectedness that comes with supporting a home team. It’s about giving families the opportunity to have a night out that everyone can share and enjoy. With the news the Boomers are here to stay and with Lauren joining us in a key role, we want to see the Melbourne community jump on board as members and support us – both basketball and women’s sport.”10

In June 2016 Maddie signed with the Deakin Melbourne Boomers for the 2016/17 WNBL season, commenting “The new ownership group has been working extremely hard to ensure the continual progress of the club. Having such a professional and methodical consortium is exciting in itself, as well as being a vital part in our future success, particularly for the season coming. I’m looking forward to playing in front of our amazing and supportive fans, and sponsors, and hope that we can expand our family with new supporters coming along to see us play. And off the court with our newest staff member Lauren Jackson joining Justin in the front office, it will be very exciting. I cannot wait to put on Boomers jersey again and represent all of the Melbourne basketball community in the WNBL.”11

By the time the ownership of the Melbourne Boomers had been transferred to the new ownership group many of the WNBL’s free-agents had signed with club’s which reduced the options available when constructing the club’s roster for the 2016/17 season. Significant progress was being made off-court before the commencement of the 2016/17 WNBL season the Melbourne Boomers re-signed Deakin University as the club’s major partner for a further two years and the club had already surpassed the membership levels they had for the 2015/16 season.

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Of the nine Melbourne Boomers that played more than 200 minutes during the 2015-16 season only four played for the club during the 2016/17 season, Garrick, Kunek, Olivia Thompson and Britany Smart. Boomers captain Tess Madgen departed to play in the Polish League and Elyse Penaluna had completed the pre-season with the Boomers and was set to be the club’s co-captain with Kunek, however just days before the 2016/17 season started Penaluna announced that she would miss the entire season due to further complications with her knee injury.

On Sunday October 23, 2016 Deakin Melbourne Boomers guard Garrick played her 150th WNBL game at 24 years of age at the State Basketball Centre against her former team the Bendigo Spirit in a City versus Country Round 3 clash. After trailing by 17 points in the second quarter the Boomers staged a tremendous fightback to win a thrilling contest by four points, 71-67 to celebrate Maddie’s milestone in style on their home court. With Melbourne trailing 57-61 with five minutes to play Maddie scored her team’s next eight points comprised of a three point play after being fouled on a lay-up, another lay-up and a three-pointer to give the Boomers a two point lead with two minutes and three seconds to play.

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During 2016/17 Garrick played all 24 games for Melbourne, averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 2.1 steals per game. Garrick polled 50 votes in the 2016/17 WNBL MVP award to finish equal ninth and made 51 three-pointers for the season – ranked eighth in the WNBL. Melbourne had five wins and 19 losses to finish seventh, missing the finals for the third consecutive season.

For the 2017/18 season the Melbourne Boomers were able to commence recruiting at the start of the free agency period and their major signings were two members from the Boomers 2010/11 championship winning team in Jenna O’Hea and Liz Cambage. The starting line-up at the start of the season was completed by Garrick and Cole in the back-court along with Kalani Purcell in the front-court. The Melbourne Boomers finished the regular season with a record of 12 wins and nine losses to finish fourth, three wins behind minor premiers the Perth Lynx and two wins behind Sydney and Townsville who finished second and third respectively. It was the first time the Boomers had made the finals since 2013/14 when they also finished fourth. In the semi-finals the Boomers defeated minor premiers the Perth Lynx two games to nil to progress to the Grand Final against the Townsville Fire who after finishing the regular season in third place had defeated the second placed Sydney Flames 2-0 in their semi final series. All three games of the Grand Final were won by the home-side with Townsville winning the series 2-1. All three Grand Final games were a sell-out with 8,000 spectators attending during the three game series which was also broadcast live by Fox Sports on pay TV.

During 2017/18 Garrick made played 26 games for the Melbourne Boomers, averaging 9.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. With the increase in the quality of the Boomers roster Garrick’s role in 2017/18 wasn’t quite as prominent as it had been in 2015/16 and 2016/17 however she still averaged just under 10 points per game, continued in her role as a starter and made 42 three-pointers.

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Cambage didn’t return to the Boomers for the 2018/19 season however Australian Opals captain Jenna O’Hea was joined by three team-mates from the national team in Cayla George, Ezi Magbegor and Steph Talbot at the Boomers in 2018/19. The Boomers also recruited American import point guard Lindsay Allen. Bec Cole left the Melbourne Boomers to join the Jayco Rangers and was seeking the opportunity to play as a shooting guard.

Maddie played her 200th WNBL game at 26 years of age against the Sydney Uni Flames at the State Basketball Centre on 8 November 2018. On reaching 200 WNBL games Maddie commented to wnbl.basketball “Milestone games are always a bit more emotional and sentimental, and it will remind me to look back on my career so far and reflect on the process and achievements that have brought me to my 200th game. I couldn’t be more excited to play in front of and share this milestone with our amazing Boomers fans, as well as with my incredible teammates, coaches and everyone at the club.”12

In Round 15 of the 2018/19 season Garrick scored 28 points including six three-pointers in an 11 point victory against the Jayco Rangers at Dandenong Basketball Stadium and was named in the Round 15 WNBL Team of the Week.

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During 2018/19 Melbourne recorded 15 wins and six losses to finish the regular season in second place, one game behind the minor premiers, the University of Canberra Capitals and two games ahead of the Adelaide Lightning and Perth Lynx in third and fourth position respectively. Melbourne lost their semi final series to Adelaide 0-2, being defeated 60-76 in game 1 at the State Basketball Centre and 92-100 in game 2 at Titanium Arena in Adelaide. During 2018/19 Garrick played 20 games for Melbourne, averaging 11.5 rebounds, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Garrick made 46 three-pointers at an accuracy of 37.4%, her fourth consecutive season making at least 40 shots from behind the arc.

In December 2018 Melbourne Boomers General Manager Justin Nelson was appointed the General Manager of New Zealand’s NBL and he left the Boomers after the 2018/19 season. During his five years at the Boomers the performance of the club improved both on and off the court with a key event being the change in ownership roughly half-way through Nelson’s stint. During Nelson’s time at the Boomers the club experienced a significant increase in membership, match day attendance and revenue. In June 2019 another key Boomers staff member in Lauren Jackson also left the club to commence the role of ‘Head of Women in Basketball’ at Basketball Australia.

Garrick was one of seven players from Melbourne’s 2018/19 roster that returned for the 2019/20 season with other players in this category being Cayla George, 2018/19 WNBL All Star five member Lindsay Allen, Ezi Magbegor, Kalani Purcell, Monique Conti and Chelsea D’Angelo. The Boomers new recruits for 2019/20 included Toni Farnworth, Penina Davidson, Stella Beck and American import Sophie Cunningham who in 2019 played her rookie WNBA season with the Phoenix Mercury. Jenna O’Hea and Steph Talbot left the Boomers to join WNBL rivals the Southside Flyers and Adelaide Lightning respectively.

On the eve of the 2019/20 WNBL season Garrick was named as Melbourne Boomers co-captain along with Cayla George. Earlier this month Maddie commented “I have always kind of dreamt about being a captain in some team at some stage, I have always felt that would be such an incredible thing to do and I am such a person who I love helping people, I love kind of being a leader in that role and when Guy, he called me up and told me I was going to be co-captain with Cayla. I couldn’t have pictured doing it with someone, we are actually very like-minded, very like-minded, very similar personalities and all that sort of thing and our philosophies and our values and our personalities are just so connected that it was actually just a perfect fit for us to be co-captains together and it kind of changed my perspective of going into games and being a leader at training, being more of a vocal leader I guess. I always try going into games and trainings working as hard as I can and being a leader that way but it was kind of more those other little things, having to make decisions on behalf of the team but Cayla and I work so well together and we just really wanted to create a culture that was so fun and exciting and people felt so comfortable because if you have got individuals in an environment like that you are going to get the best out of them no matter what. That is kind of what happened last season, we just had the best group, the best culture and the best environment and it was just so much fun.”

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The Melbourne Boomers starting line-up when at full-strength in 2019/20 was Allen and Garrick in the back-court along with Cunningham, Magbegor and George in the front-court. Against Sydney in Round 7 at the State Basketball Centre Garrick scored a season-high 26 points, making nine of her 16 field goal attempts for an accuracy of 56.3% and was very damaging from long-range, making six of her 11 three-pointers for an accuracy of 54.5%, no other player made more than two three-pointers in the game. In the 94-81 victory Garrick also had a game-high three steals, four assists and three rebounds to be named in the Round 7 WNBL Team of the Week.

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The Boomers finished third at the end of the regular season with 15 wins and six losses, the same record as the second placed University of Canberra Capitals, two wins behind the minor premiers – the Southside Flyers and three wins ahead of the fourth placed Adelaide Lightning. Due to winning the regular season split 2-1 the Capitals had home-court advantage in the semi final series against the Boomers which proved critical, the home side won each semi final and Canberra defeated the Boomers two games to one.

Garrick played all 24 games for the Melbourne Boomers in 2019/20, averaging 11.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.8 steals and 29.2 minutes per game. Garrick led Melbourne for steals and three-pointers made, ranked fourth for rebounds and fifth for assists and scoring. During 2019/20 Garrick made 52 three-pointers – ranked third in the WNBL behind Kia Nurse and Leilani Mitchell, and also ranked third in the league for total steals. It was the fifth consecutive season that Garrick made at least 40 three-pointers.

Representing Australia in five on five basketball

In April 2015 Garrick was one of 18 players invited to attend an Australian Opals camp as preparation for a European tour. Garrick was thrilled to be training with the Opals and saw it as a great opportunity to learn from and train along-side the best basketball players in the country, however she had no expectations on being selected in the 12 player squad for the tour. On being selected in the team for the Opals European tour Garrick commented “It’s still a bit surreal. I went to a world championships with the under-19 Gems team a few years ago, which was amazing, but to say I’m an Opal now and putting on the real jersey, it hasn’t sunk in and it’s a wonderful opportunity. It’s kind of crazy – I’ve just been taking it step by step then all this has happened in the one time.”13

Maddie was studying an Exercise and Sports Science course at Deakin University who commenced sponsoring the Melbourne Boomers in 2015, Maddie represented Australia at the 2015 World University games. In an interview with Deakin Life Maddie’s response to the question ‘What advice would you give your younger self?’ was “Do something today that your future self will thank you for. In other words, work hard now and reap the rewards later.”14

Before the Australian Opals 2015 Oceania Championships series against New Zealand they played a three-game warm-up series against Japan in July and August. Maddie played for the Opals in the warm-up series against Japan, including game 2 on her SEABL team the Frankston Blues home court, Frankston Basketball Stadium however she missed out on selection for the 2015 Oceania Championships.

In March 2016 Garrick was named in a preliminary 27 player Australian Opals squad in the lead up to the first training camp for the Olympic Games preparations, however Maddie was one of the first three players when the squad was reduced to 24 players just over a week before camp 1 from 29 March to 3 April.

Maddie represented the Australian Opals at the 2017 FIBA Asian Cup held in India in July, averaging 5.0 points and just under 12 minutes per game, Australia won the silver medal, being defeated by Japan 74-73 in the final.

3×3 basketball

In June 2017 it was announced that a 3-on-3 basketball tournament would be included at the 2020 Summer Olympics in addition to a traditional five on five tournament. At the time of the announcement Australia needed to focus more energy on 3-on-3 basketball, host more tournaments and perform better in international tournaments in order to qualify for the 3-on-3 basketball tournament at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Earlier this month Maddie reflected on her first experience of playing 3×3 basketball in April 2018 at the NBL 1 Pro Hustle event in Melbourne and the differences between that format of basketball and the traditional 5 on 5 format. Garrick commented “Well, I mean obviously the rules were different but I think it was just the styles of play were completely different as well. Obviously being half-court it is a lot more fast-paced, it is a lot more physical, you can get away with a lot more in terms of that physicality and I think when I explain 3×3 in terms of if you had to have a style of play for it you can’t really hide behind anyone so you are kind of exposed in the fact that you have to do everything that is required. Yeah and it gave me as soon as I started playing it I was like you know what, this kinds of suits me, I can play around with the ball a little bit more. Obviously I am a shooter so I am going to shoot the open shot but it challenged me to be physical at getting to the ring as well and changing it up between taking that open shot and the lay-up. It was kind of, it was funny because there is such a quick transition between offense and defense, you are kind of oh, wait we are playing again so you don’t have that rest so it is definitely a different transition but it is fun and I have thoroughly enjoyed the pathway so far.”

Garrick’s second 3×3 tournament was for Australia at the 2018 Asia Cup. Australia won the bronze medal in 2018 after being defeated by New Zealand 20-18 in overtime during the semi-final. At the 2019 Asia Cup in China the Australian team comprised of Garrick, Cole, Alice Kunek and Hanna Zavecz won all five games, comprehensively defeating Kazakstan 20-9 in the final to win the gold medal.

The first ever FIBA 3×3 women’s series was held in 2019. Due to the travel required to compete at the stops as well as the focus on the WNBL when it is in season Australia competed in far less tournaments than their rivals in this format. An Australian team including Garrick only competed at the first stop in Chengdu and the final stop in Tokyo, despite not playing this format as regularly as their rivals Australia were very successful, winning both stops.

Garrick was one of two guests along with Australian 3×3 team-mate Bec Cole on the on the 4 June 2020 episode of the 3×3 Hustle Hype Podcast hosted by Australian male 3×3 player Greg Hire. Maddie commented on being able to play more 3×3 tournaments in 2019 and build continuity “Like I said before the more games we played, the more we got to know each other, the easier it got, the more fun it was and then we won that (2019 Asia Cup) and then went straight on to the first stop of the women’s series and we went 12 and 0 straight away so I think that is where we came out and made our point not only to win but we came out to be like, we are not messing around. We might not play this all year round like some other countries might that have more experience than us but like we are here, we are giving this a crack and we are not messing around.”

At the 2019 3 x 3 World Cup held in Amsterdam during June, 25 nations participated in the Women’s event and the Australian team comprised of Garrick, Cole, Kunek, and Keely Froling were the 18th seed. Australia won four of their first five games, with the exception being a one point loss to France – 15-16. In a semi-final Australia lost a nail-biter against China 14-15 and then played off for third place against France, Australia were comprehensively defeated by France 9-21 and finished the tournament in fourth place.

On representing Australia and winning several 3×3 tournaments Garrick commented “Well I mean to be able to represent your country in the sport that you love. I obviously always dreamed of playing at the Olympic Games for the Opals because that was the only pathway to do that and it is still a dream of mine but then to have the 3×3 come up and now be a part of the Olympics and Commonwealth Games and it is a style of game that is more suited to me. It’s another pathway, another opportunity so I am extremely grateful to be able to do that and be a trailblazer in that sense as well and it is just the vibe and the style around it, how the production of it is completely different to your traditional five on five but it is so much fun and I still hope that we can continue to qualify for the Olympics and finally get to an Olympic games but also as I said, be the first, be one of the first to play the game at the debut of the 3×3 at the Olympics.”

On 19 February 2020 Garrick was selected in the five player squad along with Cole, Kunek, Kelsey Griffin and Lauren Nicholson for the 3 x 3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament which was scheduled to be held in India from 18 to 22 March, however due to the corona virus the tournament was postponed.

It was announced on 24 June, 2020 that the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualification Tournament would be hosted by Austria from May 26-30, 2021. The 2020 Tokyo Olympic games were postponed and will commence on 23 July, 2021.

Upcoming 2020/21 WNBL season with the Melbourne Boomers

In late May, 2020 it was announced that due to COVID-19 there would be a delayed start to the 2020/21 WNBL season with Round 1 to commence on 20 November, about six weeks later than usual. Each team will play 21 regular season games just as they have in recent seasons, the regular season will conclude in early March and the Grand Final series will be played in late March. Due to the impact COVID-19 will have on finances of the league and the clubs imports will not be allowed to play in the league next season. There was also uncertainty about what international travel restrictions would be in place.

Five of the seven players that averaged at least 18 minutes court-time per game for the Melbourne Boomers in 2019/20 will be playing for the club again in 2020/21 being Garrick, fellow co-captain Cayla George, Ezi Magbegor, Stella Beck and Kalani Purcell. Two of the starters from 2019/20 in Lindsay Allen and Sophie Cunningham were unable to return for the 2020/21 WNBL season due to being imports.

Although the impact of COVID-19 means that we wont be able to see imports next season one positive is that it is more likely for Australian and New Zealand players to remain in the WNBL, return to the league or make their WNBL debut. Two members of the Australian Opals silver medal winning team at the 2018 World Cup that didn’t play in the WNBL in 2019/20 have signed to play in 2020/21 with Sami Whitcomb and Alanna Smith joining the Perth Lynx and Adelaide Lightning respectively.

Without imports next season there will be greater playing opportunities for Australian players  during the 2020/2021 WNBL season and we might see one or multiple players relish this and make a meteoric rise like Garrick did during her first season with the Melbourne Boomers in 2015/16.

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The Boomers are the only WNBL club to make the finals in each of the last three seasons from 2017/18 to 2019/20, and have also performed well off the court during this period, having strong crowds and memberships. The Boomers look to be well placed for the 2020/21 season, maintaining continuity with the roster and have great chemistry among the team led by Maddie and Cayla. Earlier this month it was announced that a member of the Opals silver medal winning team from the 2018 World Cup in Tess Madgen would be joining the Boomers for the 2020/21 season after spending the last two seasons playing for the Townsville Fire. Madgen played three seasons for the Boomers from 2013/14 to 2015/16 and was named in the 2014/15 WNBL All-Star five alongside another current Boomer Cayla George who was playing for Townsville.

On playing for the Melbourne Boomers Garrick comments “I love playing at home, I love the fans, I love the people and the support crew around the club and that is kind of why I have been at the club for so long and obviously being coached by Guy as well has been incredible.”

Epilogue

Maddie Garrick started playing basketball at 11 years of age which is significantly later than most of her peers in the WNBL. Maddie quickly progressed through the ranks and played representative basketball in Shepparton and also traveled to play for the Bulleen Boomers in the Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL). As a teenager Maddie also had to deal with adversity, most notably overcoming the physical and mental toll anorexia was having on her. With the help of her parents and a nutritionist Maddie was well able to set up mechanisms to manage and overcome anorexia and was well on the way when she joined the AIS. During her two and a half WNBL seasons at the AIS Garrick was able to develop her basketball game and also had access to experts to assist with her physical and mental well-being.

Garrick was able to represent the Australian Gems at the under 19 Women’s World Championship in 2011, however due to injuring her knee at a warm-up tournament she played limited court-time at the World Championships and didn’t play any court-time in the last five games.

From 2012/13 to 2014/15 Garrick played three seasons for the Bendigo Spirit and was part of championship winning teams in her first two seasons at the club. At Bendigo Maddie was able to play and train alongside some of the nbest basketball players in Australia including Kristi Harrower which was great for her development, however the opportunity to show her wares in games was limited with her most court-time in her three seasons for the club being 11.1 minutes per game in 2014/15. Whilst Garrick played limited court-time for Bendigo she made an impact in her minutes, displaying composure and making some big plays in pressure situations.

Seeking greater playing opportunities Garrick signed a two year contract with the Melbourne Boomers for the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons and made a meteoric rise during this time relishing the opportunity to be a starter, winning the Boomers club MVP award in 2015/16 and finishing in the top 10 of the WNBL MVP award in 2016/17. One of Garrick’s greatest strengths was her three-point shooting, making at least 50 three-pointers in her first two seasons with the Boomers to rank among the league-leaders in this category.

In the past three seasons from 2017/18 to 2019/20 Garick has continued to be a starter for the Melbourne Boomers and has made at least 40 three-pointers in each season. On the eve of the 2019/20 season Maddie was appointed as the Boomers co-captain alongside Cayla George.

In February 2018 Garrick commenced playing a new format of basketball 3×3 and progressed rapidly in this format, becoming a regular in the Australian 3×3 team that has won several international tournaments including the 2019 FIBA 3×3 World Cup. Garrick is able to play with more creativity and flair in 3×3 and aims to be be part of the Australian that qualifies for and plays at the first Olympic Games that features 3×3 in Tokyo next year.

On Episode 2 of Basketball Victoria’s ‘Ask me anything’ Maddie spoke about her off-court goals, saying “After doing some work in this space and through personal experiences I have been thinking a lot about possibly looking into studying sports psychology. I am definitely someone who I love helping people and I think that I could connect really well with people from being an athlete myself as well as the fact that I just genuinely love to help people.” At the end of the episode Maddie was asked “Are you happy with the person you are becoming?” she responded “Absolutely, I am always trying to find ways to improve myself on and off the court and to help with this I openly speak about working closely with a sports psych and also a regular psychologist and I think life is full of great things but it is also full of set-backs and challenges and there not always easy and I guess for me I have been through some very soul-searching times particularly in the last couple of years but there all part of the process and I have come to realise that all those times shape us to be who we are and who we are supposed to be and closer to our true self.”

By Dean Andrews

Twitter – @DeanAndrews7777

1 https://wnbl.basketball/melbourne/news/maddie-garrick-returns-for-a-sixth-season/

2 https://www.athletesvoice.com.au/maddie-garrick-stronger-than-eating-disorder/

3 https://www.athletesvoice.com.au/maddie-garrick-stronger-than-eating-disorder/

4 Shepparton News, Garrick now a free Spirit by Ashleigh Williamson, page 30, 1 October 2009

5 Shepparton News, Heady times for Maddie by Teo Pellizzeri, page 32, 2 December 2009

6 https://www.athletesvoice.com.au/maddie-garrick-stronger-than-eating-disorder/

7 http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/138607/spirit-out-to-shine-shepparton-star/

8 http://www.basketball.net.au/profile-maddie-garrick-2/

9 http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/east/sport/maddie-garrick-grabs-increased-opportunities-with-both-hands-in-debut-wnbl-season-with-melbourne-boomers/news-story/b0ed7a6404fc30bcf38792745471219b

10 http://wnbl.com.au/lauren-jackson-plays-key-role-in-new-melbourne-boomers/

11 http://wnbl.com.au/maddie-garrick-back-for-melbourne-boomers/

12 https://wnbl.basketball/melbourne/news/maddie-garrick-set-for-game-200/

13  http://www.smh.com.au/sport/basketball/maddie-garrick-looks-to-european-tour-after-making-australian-opals-squad-20150513-gh10td.html

14 https://blogs.deakin.edu.au/deakinlife/2015/10/29/in-their-words-meet-maddie-garrick-and-alice-kunek/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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