At six years of age Steph Reid knew that she wanted to represent the Australian women’s basketball team, the Opals when she grew up. Reid played junior basketball at club level for Frankston and began playing representative basketball for Frankston in the under 12’s as a bottom age player. Reid was a member of a Frankston Blues under 18s team that had a USA trip.
In late May 2022 Reid reflected on her attempts to represent her state at junior level, telling The Sydney Morning Herald “I’ve never been to a junior nationals or made a Vic Metro team so I’ve always tried to be the hardest worker and make sure that’s something that I live by. I was always around the top 25 players [when state teams were selected] but I would get to the last round and get cut. I was told I was too small, my wingspan wasn’t long enough, I wasn’t athletic enough or I couldn’t shoot the ball well enough – that has driven me to be more motivated and work on my game.”1
After finishing high school Reid attended University of Buffalo, located in New York and played college basketball for four seasons from 2014/15 to 2017/18. Conversations that Simon Mitchell had in his role as Frankston’s Blues head of high performance with Buffalo coaching staff during the Frankston’s Blues under 18s US tour played a role in Reid getting an opportunity at Buffalo. Reid had an exceptional college basketball career for University of Buffalo playing for Head Coach Felisha Legette-Jack and ended her college career first on the Buffalo Bulls all-time list for career assists. In the Championship Game of the 2016 Mid-American Conference Women’s tournament Reid made a buzzer-beating match winner at the end of overtime to break a tie and put the Bulls two points in front to win the title.
Reid returned to Australia after completing college and played for the Frankston Blues at senior level in the last season of the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) in 2018 coached by Simon Mitchell and the inaugural NBL1 season in 2019 coached by Jess May. In an NBL1 game for the Frankston Blues in May 2019 Reid set a new league record for most points scored in a game, scoring 50 points against Launceston Tornadoes in a home game, making 19 of 25 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 76%.
At 22 years of age 168 centimetre tall Reid made her WNBL debut as a development player with the Dandenong Rangers in 2018/19 and played limited minutes in seven games across her first two WNBL seasons for the Dandenong based club who were re-branded as the Southside Flyers in 2019/20.
In 2019 Reid was unexpectedly given an opportunity to play representative basketball when she was selected in the Emerging Opals team for the 2019 World University Games held In Napoli, Italy. The Emerging Opals Head Coach was current Townsville Fire Head Coach Shannon Seebohm. The Emerging Opals defeated USA 80-72 in the final to win the gold medal.
In July 2020 JCU Townsville Fire announced that they had signed Reid on their main roster for the 2020 WNBL season. Seebohm commented on Reid “She’s very much entrenched in grassroots sport – coaching junior teams and helping younger players. Speaking to her she’s really keen to get involved with our community programs, so I think she’s going to be a great role model for the young girls in Townsville. It’s definitely one of the things we’re looking for, and we tremendously value the community support we get to be able to put our team on the floor, so having people who want to give back is crucial. I really enjoyed coaching her, I think she’s really tough, she’s a great defender for a small guard and has a really nice skillset offensively and can make her own shot.”2
Playing as a back-up point guard Reid was a member of the JCU Townsville team that made the 2020 WNBL Grand Final and were defeated by the Southside Flyers. Due to injuries to her Townsville Fire teammates Reid took on more responsibility in the second half of the 2021/22 WNBL season and after playing over 30 minutes court-time in just one of Townsville’s first nine games of the season played over 30 minutes in each of the Fire’s last eight games of the season. Reid was one of the revelations of the 2021/22 WNBL season, ranked equal fourth in the league for assists per game, won Townsville’s Most Valuable Player Award and was nominated for the WNBL’s Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year Award.
During the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season point guard Reid playing her fifth season overall in the league and third consecutive season for JCU Townsville Fire achieved considerable success both individually and from a team perspective. During the 2022/23 regular season Reid led the WNBL for assists per game, ranked equal fourth for steals and eighth for free-throws made. Reid won the league’s 2022/23 Golden Hands Award and was a nominee for the Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year Award for the second consecutive season.
After having a record of five wins and four losses JCU Townsville Fire won their last 12 games of the regular season to finish on top of the ladder at the end of the 2022/23 regular season. Townsville won all four finals to extend their winning streak to 16 games and won the 2022/23 WNBL Championship. Reid displayed composure and skill during the final series to lead her team in scoring in two of Townsville’s four finals, scoring a game-high 24 points in game 1 of the semi final series against Perth and a team-high 20 points in game 2 of the Grand Final series against Southside Flyers.
Reid received the WNBL’s 2022/23 Cygnett Community Award, being recognised for her work in the Community, including with Brighter Lives which is the official charity partner of Townsville Hospital and Health Service.
In May 2022 Reid was able to achieve a dream when she made her debut for the Australian Opals in a three-game series against Japan held in New South Wales. On 13 January 2023 Reid was selected in an Australian Opals extended 26 player squad for an Opals camp to be held at the AIS National Training Centre from March 31-April 5. The FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2023 will be held in Sydney from 26 June to 2 July.
It has been a remarkable rise by Steph Reid to progress from being overlooked for junior Vic Metro teams to represent the Australian Opals, a journey that has taken her from Frankston to Buffalo and now Townsville. A coach at each of these locations has had an influential role in Reid’s progression – Simon Mitchell at Frankston Blues, Felisha Legette-Jack at University of Buffalo and Shannon Seebohm at JCU Townsville Fire. The influence of this trio and Reid’s incredible path to be the starting point guard on Townsville Fire’s 2022/23 WNBL Championship winning team and receive awards for her achievements both on and off the court is covered comprehensively below.
Junior career and playing college basketball for University of Buffalo
Most WNBL players represented their states regularly throughout their junior basketball careers and many went on to represent Australia at junior level in international tournaments. Reid’s journey to reach the WNBL was far different as she was never selected to represent her state or country in tournaments at junior level. Stephanie Reid was born on 22 July 1996 her parents are Duncan and Michelle and she has one sister Emily. Steph grew up on the Mornington Peninsula in Mount Eliza approximately 60 kilometres south south east of Melbourne and less than 10 kilometres from Frankston.
During a video The Grind: Steph Reid Chapter 1 published by Australian Basketball Players’ Association on 31 January 2023 Reid spoke about her basketball pathway, commenting “So when I was six I was in prep and everyone was talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up and I wanted to be an Opal, like I wanted to be an Olympian. I grew up playing for Frankston, I was 10 when I started my first season, went there all the way through to top age. As a kid playing for Frankston I never made the Vic Metro teams, I was never in any of the high performance stuff like SPP (State Performance Program) and all of that.”
“I went on a USA tour with Simon Mitchell the coach of South East Melbourne, he was our head of high performance, so he had a really big part in getting me to (University of) Buffalo. So we went over there, he had a chat with the coach and assistant coach, sold me and my best friend (Courtney Wilkins) about our ability and that’s where we went over there together. That was probably the turning point for me because I was pretty ready out of high school to just become a SEABL (South East Australian Basketball League) player, work full-time. I didn’t think I was really going anywhere, so going to college, that changed that whole perspective and now it is a bit of a blur.”
Less than two months after graduating from high school at Peninsula School in Mount Eliza during November 2014 Reid moved 16,300 kilometres to attend the University of Buffalo, located in New York, United States of America. Reid commenced a college career with University of Buffalo in mid-January 2015, two months after the 2014/15 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Women’s basketball season started. In Reid’s freshman season at Buffalo Felisha Legette-Jack was in her third season as the University of Buffalo’s women’s basketball Head Coach, having commenced the role in 2012/13.
Reid was one of four Australian freshman on University of Buffalo’s women’s basketball team in 2014/15 along with Courtney Wilkins and twin sisters Liisa and Katherine Ups. After Reid played off the bench in the first two games of her college career she was elevated to the role of starting point guard in her third game on 17 January 2015 and retained this role for the remaining 114 games of her college career.
In the 2016 Mid-American Conference women’s basketball Tournament University of Buffalo were the number eight seeds and upset number one seeds Ohio 72-60 in the quarter finals with Reid scoring 16 points and making four assists. In a semi final the Buffalo Bulls had a thrilling 88-87 victory against Akron to advance to the MAC Tournament Championship game for the first time in their history.
During the Mid-American Conference Championship game at Quickens Loans Arena on 12 March 2016 University of Buffalo started well to lead second seeds Central Michigan 24-18 at quarter-time. The Bulls found it tougher to score after quarter-time, registering less than 15 points in each of the last three quarters and the scores were tied at 64 apiece at the end of regulation, sending the championship game to overtime for the fourth time in the tournament’s history.
During the first two minutes and 30 seconds of overtime Reid provided assists for two three-pointers and the Bulls led 70-67. Presley Hudson made two free-throws for Central Michigan to tie the game 71-71 with 3.4 seconds left in overtime. After a University of Buffalo time-out the ball was in-bounded to Reid three metres behind the three-point line. Reid took two dribbles and made a banked jump-shot from just below the foul line on the right hand side to beat the buzzer, break the tie and secure University of Buffalo a 73-71 win over Central Michigan and Buffalo’s first ever MAC championship in dramatic fashion. It was Reid’s first ever game-ending buzzer beater of her basketball career at any level. In the championship game Reid registered the first double-double of her college career comprised of 10 points and a career-high 12 assists. Reid was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2016 MAC women’s tournament and was joined in the All-Tournament team by Bulls teammate Joana Smith. The number eight seeded University of Buffalo became the lowest seed to ever win the Mid-American Conference women’s tournament.
In Reid’s senior 2017/18 season the Buffalo Bulls made it to the championship game at the 2018 MAC Women’s Tournament and again played Central Michigan. In a high scoring game number two seeds Buffalo were defeated by number one seeds Central Michigan 91-96. Reid was one of two Buffalo players along with Cierra Dillard named in the 2018 MAC All-Tournament team. In 2018 University of Buffalo won a game in the NCAA Women’s tournament for the first time in their history. The Buffalo Bulls defeated South Florida 102-79 in Round 1 with Reid scoring 19 points and making a game-high eight assists. In Round 2 Buffalo had an 86-65 victory against number 3 seeds Florida State with Reid scoring 18 points. Against number two seeds South Carolina at Times Union Center New York on 24 March In a sweet sixteen game Buffalo were defeated 63-79.
After Buffalo’s loss to South Carolina Reid told The Buffalo News “One day, when I grow up, I hope to be just like Coach Jack. Very strong and amazing as she is, because she completely transformed my life in the last three and a half years, not just my basketball skills, my whole life. And I’m forever grateful for that.”3
During her college career with University of Buffalo Reid averaged 10.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. Reid was selected in the Defensive All-MAC team in three consecutive seasons from 2015/16 to 2017/18, earnt selection on an All-Mac team twice – the third team in 2015/16 and the second team in 2017/18. Reid ended her college career ranked first on the Buffalo Bulls all-time list for career assists with 681.
On playing college basketball with University of Buffalo Reid told fdba.com.au in May 2018 “I had an amazing experience at Buffalo and the last four years really grew me as a player and a person. My senior year was unforgettable, having the opportunity to be a part of one of the best sixteen teams in the country and make history was something I’ll always remember.”4
In 2018 Reid attended some WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) combines and being exposed to that level of basketball reinforced her desire to turn her love of basketball into a career.
Playing state league basketball for Frankston Blues and being a WNBL development player
After graduating from The University of Buffalo Reid returned to the Frankston Blues and represented the club at senior level in the SEABL in 2018 and in the NBL1 during the league’s inaugural season in 2019. During the 2018 SEABL season Simon Mitchell was the Head Coach of Frankston’s women’s team and in the 2019 NBL1 season Jess May was the Head Coach.
In an NBL1 game for the Frankston Blues in May 2019 Reid set a new league record, scoring 50 points against Launceston Tornadoes in a home game, making 19 of 25 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 76% and was even more impressive from long range, making seven of eight three-pointers at an accuracy of 87.5%.
Reid commented to fdba.com.au on her 50 point NBL1 game for Frankston “It felt like a blur, I didn’t feel like I was doing anything different. I was just in a mode out there. I was taking open shots but I’ve never been a shooter, I’m a pass first point guard. Seeing myself on the replay shoot back-to-back threes – I didn’t remember taking them. A year or even six months ago I wouldn’t have taken those shots but I have been putting in a lot of work.”5
In 2018/19 Reid got her first taste of playing in Australia’s premier women’s basketball league, the WNBL. During a video The Grind: Steph Reid Chapter 1 Steph commented “Larissa Anderson reached out to me, she was the head coach of Dandenong at the time and offered me a development player spot. So I was like OK I am on a roster, that is so cool, my name is going to be there, I am going to be training with them. When she reached out to me I said yes quicker than anything in the world, I couldn’t even think before I had already accepted the position. So it was like $1,500 I think for the season. So I was doing indie’s, I was working for my family’s company as a sales rep, so on our off days I would drive all over Victoria, like Werribee, Phillip Island, driving hours selling boat trailers. Something I know nothing about, like I am scared of the ocean, so these guys would talk about fishing and I would be like ‘Yeah, did you catch anything great?’ I had no idea what I was doing, like I was grinding just to make it work but it is the love of the game and that season I fell in love with the WNBL from that point, yeah I was really lucky to even be a part of it.”
At the 2019 World University Games held In Napoli, Italy Reid was a member of the Emerging Opals team that was coached by current Townsville Fire Head Coach Shannon Seebohm. Australia defeated USA 80-72 in the final to win the gold medal. In the gold medal game Reid played 18 minutes off the bench for the emerging Opals, made two of three field goals, scored seven points and made two assists.
In an article written by Jacinta Govind and published on abc.net.au on 2 September 2022 Reid commented on the unexpected opportunity to play for the Emerging Opals, saying “Meeting Shannon was one of the most significant things in my pro-career. When he picked me up to be part of that U23s team, I had no expectation to be a part of that. I was so far out of the circle. I thought why do you want me? How did you find me?”6
In July 2019 the Dandenong Rangers WNBL license was transferred from the Dandenong Basketball Association to Gerry Ryan and the club was rebranded as the Southside Flyers. Reid played a total of just seven games in her first two WNBL seasons comprised of four games for the Dandenong Rangers in 2018/19 and three games for the Southside Flyers in 2019/20. A quad injury kept Reid on the sidelines for five weeks during the latter season.
Cheryl Chambers was appointed the Southside Flyers Head Coach for the 2019/20 season. Chambers is currently an assistant coach of the Australian Opals and had two stints as a WNBL head coach previously – with the Bulleen (now Melbourne) Boomers for eight seasons from 2001/02 to 2008/09 and with the Sydney Uni Flames for three seasons from 2016/17 to 2018/19. The Flames won the WNBL Championship in 2016/17 after defeating Dandenong 2-0 in the Grand Final series.
During 2019/20 Southside’s starting line-up was Leilani Mitchell and Bec Cole in the backcourt along with Sara Blicavs, Jenna O’Hea and American import Mercedes Russell in the front-court. The Southside Flyers recorded 17 wins and four losses during the 2019/20 season to finish on top of the ladder. Very little separated the Flyers and the Capitals during the Grand Final series, the Flyers held the lead in both games of the Grand Final series at a stage in the last four minutes, however in the dying stages the Capitals were more composed and shot the ball more efficiently to win game 1 82-80 at Dandenong Stadium and game 2 71-68 at the AIS Arena on 4 March.
Whilst Reid played limited game-time for Southside in 2019/20 she was able to train alongside and learn from several experienced players including the player that she modelled her game on – Leilani Mitchell.
Steph Reid with Southside Flyers teammates and Head Coach Cheryl Chambers in a timeout during pre-season game against Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 5 October 2019
During an episode of The Chemist Warehouse WNBL Show in December 2019 Reid commented “Leilani’s game is what I want to be able to get to eventually so being able to watch how she uses her dribbles efficiently, the way she sees the floor… I feel like being around her every day, even if a little bit rubs off on me that would be great. Leilani is just one of the players I learn from at Southside. Having Jenna (O’Hea), Coley (Bec Cole), Sara (Blicavs) and Aimie (Clydesdale) helps me a lot too. It’s such a great opportunity to be around them every day. They are professional athletes and the way they carry themselves on and off the court is something I really pay attention to and love and adore that. The work ethic, the ability to get after each other at training then step off the court and be best friends and be sisters, it’s just those little things.”7
2020 WNBL season with JCU Townsville Fire
On 9 July 2020 JCU Townsville Fire announced that they had signed Reid for the 2020 WNBL season. Shannon Seebohm was in his second season as Townsville’s Head Coach in 2020 and had previously coached the Sydney Flames for two seasons in 2014/15 and 2015/16. Seebohm told WNBL Media “I think Steph is going to be a great fit in our program. She has performed at a very high level in the NBL1 & SEABL over the past two seasons and I know she is hungry for more opportunity to make her mark in the WNBL. I really like her ability to guard the ball in the full court and think she has the potential to develop into a great WNBL player within our program.”8
Due to the impact of COVID-19 the 2020 WNBL season had a very different structure to previous seasons and imports weren’t eligible to play in the league. All eight WNBL clubs were located in North Queensland for the duration of the 2020 WNBL season which was played at three locations, Townsville, Cairns and Mackay. The regular season was condensed to five rounds commencing 11 November and each team played 13 regular season games.
Townsville Fire’s starting line-up in 2020 was Australian Opals squad members Lauren Nicholson and Shyla Heal in the backcourt along with Mia Murray, Nadeen Payne and Megan McKay in the front-court. Reid was one of three players in the core rotation off the bench to average more than 15 minutes game-time along with power forward/centre Zitina Aokuso and shooting guard Kate Gaze. Courtney Woods and Lara McSpadden each played at least 11 games for Townsville in 2020 and averaged more than 7.0 minutes per game.
At Townsville Stadium on 24 November 2020 Reid made a game-high eight assists and had an equal game-high three steals in a 99-51 victory against Bendigo Spirit. In Townsville’s penultimate game of the regular season Reid scored 17 points and made three assists during 19 minutes and 36 seconds court-time in a 95-66 victory against Adelaide Lightning at Cairns Pop-Up Arena on 11 December. Reid made six of eight field goals at an accuracy of 75% which was comprised of making three of four two point shots and three of four three-pointers.
Townsville finished second on the WNBL ladder with nine wins and four losses and played minor premiers Southside Flyers in a semi final. One season after playing on a Southside team with Mitchell, O’Hea, Cole, Sara Blicavs and Aimie Rocci Reid was now playing in a final against a Southside side including these five players. Southside dominated the opening quarter of the major semi final 41-25 and defeated Townsville 106-93. Townsville defeated Melbourne in a thrilling preliminary final 65-62 to progress to the Grand Final. Very little separated Townsville and Southside during the first half of the Grand Final at Townsville Stadium on Sunday 20 December and Southside led 48-46 at half-time. Southside outscored Townsville 23-15 in the third quarter and went on to win the Grand Final 99-82 with Mitchell winning the Rachael Sporn Medal for being the Grand Final MVP. In the Grand Final Reid scored seven points, made two of five field goal attempts and one of two three-pointers.
Throughout the 2020 season Reid performed well in her role for Townsville as back-up point guard behind Shyla Heal. In 2020 Reid was an efficient shooter, having a field goal accuracy of 47.9% from the field, 46.7% for three-pointers and 89.5% for free-throws. Depth was one of Townsville’s greatest strengths in 2020, Reid finished third in the WNBL’s Gatorade Sixth Woman of the Year Award, teammate Aokuso won the award. Among players that had at least 10 attempts of that type of shot Reid ranked fifth in the WNBL for free-throw accuracy and sixth for three-point accuracy. Reid was one of two players in the top six of both categories along with the player she modelled her game on – Mitchell.
Townsville Fire featured prominently at the 2020 WNBL End of Season Awards with Shyla Heal being named the Betty Watson Australian Youth Player of the Year and Seebohm winning the WNBL Coach of the Year Award. Both members of Townsville’s starting backcourt were selected in an All-WNBL team, Nicholson was selected in the First Team and finished third in the WNBL MVP award and Heal was selected in the All-WNBL Second Team.
During the 2021 NBL1 North season Reid played for the Townsville Flames with Seebohm as the Head Coach. Reid played 13 regular season games for the Townsville Flames during the 2021 NBL 1 North season and excelled to average 20.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Reid was recognised for her outstanding season by being named in the 2021 NBL1 North All-Star Five.
Reid has a breakout 2021/22 WNBL season and wins JCU Townsville Fire’s Most Valuable Player Award
In mid-April 2021 Townsville Fire announced that Reid had signed with the club for the next two WNBL seasons. Townsville Fire General Manager Sam Pascoe commented on Reid “I think she showcased her abilities last season — she knew her role and executed her role brilliantly for Shannon. She became a crowd favourite rather quickly last season and we are really excited to have her back. She has taken on the role as our school ambassador and having her here all year and in the community, we couldn’t ask for a better role model in the community. I think that having Shannon as her coach all year round, there is a reason he was coach of the year and I believe, like every player that comes into our system, he brings out the best in all of our players. She is a player we can see being at the club long term.”9
Six of the nine players in Townsville Fire’s core rotation that averaged at least 12.0 minutes per game in 2020 returned in 2021/22, with Reid being joined in this category by Nicholson, Payne, Aokuso, Murray and Woods. Townsville recruited American import duo Monique Billings and point guard Sug Sutton. The Fire welcomed back 2015/16 Rachel Sporn medallist and former Townsville captain Micaela Cocks for her 10th season with the club after missing the 2020 hub season.
Early in the 2021/22 season Townsville’s full-strength starting line-up was point guard Sug Sutton and Lauren Nicholson in the back-court along with Mia Murray, Monique Billings and Zitina Aokuso in the front-court. With point guard Sutton missing Townsville’s season opener on the road against Adelaide Lightning at the Lights Community and Sports Centre on Saturday 11 December Reid was promoted into the Fire’s starting line-up to make the first start of her WNBL career.
During Townsville’s first nine games of the 2021/22 season Reid only played over 30 minutes court-time once. In the second half of the season Reid was given more responsibility, playing over 30 minutes in each of the Fire’s last eight games of the season, Steph averaged 7.1 assists per game and had at least seven assists in a game six times during this period.
In a home game against the Sydney Uni Flames on 12 February Reid shot the ball exceptionally, scoring 17 points and only missed one shot for the entire game in an 84-63 victory. Reid made six of seven field goal attempts at an accuracy of 85.7%, made all three three-pointers and both free-throws, took three rebounds, made a game-high seven assists and had two steals.
Against Bendigo Spirit in a home game on 17 February Reid registered a double-double comprised of 11 points and 10 rebounds in a 71-76 loss. Steph made four of six field goal attempts at an accuracy of 66.7%.
In February 2022 Reid spoke to The Pick And Roll about her approach to defense, saying “It’s something I pride myself on. I do a lot of coaching work, and I tell kids all the time: ‘Defence is 100% energy and effort’. It’s easy to come into every game confident when you control what you can control. That’s why I love defence, and it’s my favourite part of the game. I know I can bring that every game regardless of whether my shots hit or miss. I think it’s the most controllable aspect of the game, and I don’t think enough players at a junior or senior level really focus on it, so that’s how I try to separate myself and take pride in what I do.”10
In Townsville’s last game of the season on 20 March they trailed the finals bound Perth Lynx 59-62 with six minutes and 51 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. From that point on Reid made two assists and scored eight points comprised of a jump shot and three lay-ups to play a pivotal role in Townsville gaining the ascendancy and going on a 17-7 run to record an upset 76-69 victory over Perth at the Townsville Entertainment Centre. Reid finished the game with a team-high 23 points, took seven rebounds – ranked second for the Fire behind Aokuso (14) and made five assists in 38 minutes and 28 seconds court-time.
Reid played all 17 games for Townsville in 2021/22 and relished the increased opportunity to be one of the revelations of the WNBL season, averaging 12.0 points, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 30.1 minutes per game – ranked second at the Fire behind Nicholson. Reid ranked fourth in the league for assists per game and in the top 20 for steals and free throws made. Reid’s breakout 2021/22 season was recognised with a fifth placed finish in the WNBL’s Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year Award.
In two WNBL seasons for the Townsville Fire in 2020 and 2021/22 Reid finished in the top four of the WNBL’s Sixth Woman of the Year Award. Free throw shooting has been a strength of Reid’s, making 17 of 19 attempts at an accuracy of 89.5% in 2020, Steph was even more accurate in 2021/22, making 34 of 36 free-throws at an accuracy of 94.4% – ranked third in the league amongst players that had at least 10 free-throws.
Steph Reid shooting a free-throw for Townsville Fire against Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 25 February 2022
At Townsville Fire’s end of season presentation at the Ville on 24 March 2022 Reid won the club’s 2021/22 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award. Reid told WNBL Media “We have a really talented team and it’s an honour to be given such an award. I definitely would say that I work hard to make sure that I’m ready for any opportunity, and I got more of an opportunity then I expected, and I’d worked really hard in the off season with our coach Shannon, and I think that’s what it came down to in the end. I’m already really excited for next season and you know to try and be a little bit better again.”11
In addition to the MVP another four awards were handed out at Townsville’s 2021/22 end of season awards, Courtney Woods received two awards – the Commitment to Excellence Award and Players Player Award. Aliza Fabbro won the Coaches Award and Reid received a second award – ‘The Club Person of the Year’. Reid commented “I’m definitely proud to be the ‘Club Person of the Year’ it’s an award that is highly valued and I really appreciate being recognized for the work that I do in the community. It’s not something that I really regard as going out of my way. I’m just excited by the impact it has on the people here, particularly the kids, and I think that’s what the award is about.”12
Representing the Australian Opals
In April 2022 Reid was named in the Opals extended 21 player squad for the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup. After being named in the Opals extended squad for the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Reid told fdba.com.au “I’m obviously so overwhelmed by the feeling, it’s really exciting and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it. Just excited to get to camp now and see how it goes. It’s always been a goal and it’s something I’ve tried to work towards, but I didn’t know this was going to be the year that it happened. I’m really excited and I’m ahead of schedule as to where I thought I would be at the start of this year so I’m pretty grateful for that as well.”13
Reid attended an Australian Opals camp in Sydney that commenced on Tuesday 24 May in the lead up to the three game series against Japan in New South Wales. Eight players in the Opals extended 21 player squad for the 2022 FIBA World Cup were unavailable for the camp due to playing commitments overseas including seven players in the WNBA – Steph Talbot and Ezi Magbegor (both with Seattle Storm), Bec Allen and Sami Whitcomb (both with New York Liberty), Kristy Wallace (Atlanta Dream), Alanna Smith (Indiana Fever) and Anneli Maley (Chicago Sky) whilst Mariana Tolo was finishing her season with Basket Landes in France. Due to illness Reid’s Townsville Fire teammate Zitina Aokuso was a late withdrawal from the Opals camp in Sydney. All 12 players that attended the Opals training camp that commenced in Sydney on 24 May played in the three game-series.
Due to WNBA commitments three members of the Australian Opals coaching staff were unavailable for the Opals training camp in Sydney and the three game series against Japan – Opals head coach Sandy Brondello (head coach of New York Liberty), Olaf Lange (assistant coach of New York Liberty) and Paul Goriss (assistant coach of Atlanta Dream). Australian Opals assistant coach Cheryl Chambers was the Head Coach of the Opals against Japan and Shannon Seebohm and Kristen Veal were Assistant Coaches. Seebohm had coached Reid in the previous two WNBL seasons and Chambers was Reid’s Head Coach at the Southside Flyers in 2019/20.
The Opals starting line-up for game 1 against Japan at the Quaycentre, Sydney on Friday 27 May was Shyla Heal and Tess Madgen in the back-court along with Darcee Garbin, Sara Bliacvs and Cayla George in the front-court. Guard Madison Rocci was ruled out of game 1 due to a hamstring injury. Joining Reid on the bench for the Opals were Jade Melbourne, Lauren Nicholson, Bec Cole, Keely Froling and Lauren Scherf.
With two minutes and 47 seconds remaining in the first quarter of game 1 against Japan at Quaycentre on Friday 27 May Reid was substituted into the game for her first minutes as an Opal. With nine minutes and 11 seconds remaining in the second quarter Reid made a three-pointer, two minutes later she made a lay-up. In the Opals 72-66 victory against Japan Reid scored five points in nine minutes and 47 seconds court-time, made two of four field goals, took one rebound and made one assist. Reid played less than five minutes game time in game 2 and didn’t have any court time in game 3. Reid was one of three players that made their debut for the Australian Opals during the series against Japan along with Bec Cole and Anneli Maley who travelled to Sydney after her WNBA hardship contract with Chicago Sky ended.
Most players that go on to represent the Australian Opals had considerable experience representing their state at junior level and then progressed to represent Australia at under-age level for the Sapphires (under 17’s) and Gems (under 19’s). Aware that she is an exception to this Reid told The Sydney Morning Herald “How many players reach this point [The Opals] and can say they never went to a nationals? I try to pass that on to kids because lots of them get cut from teams each year.”14
On Wednesday June 1, the day after the Opals three game series in New South Wales against Japan concluded Reid posted on Instagram:
“This past 10 days had a lot of highlights, but I have to say the most surreal moment of all of it was having my idol present my Opals jersey to me for the first time.
Michele Timms was the first Australian PG I ever looked up to and someone I’ve always tried to grow my game to be like.
What an honour and a privilege it was to represent my country, but to do it in front of my idol just made it all the more special.”15
To celebrate Reid winning Townsville Fire’s 2021/22 Most Valuable Player Award and making her Australian Opals debut Milestones and Misses published an article on 10 June 2022 which covers Steph’s career to that point in more detail than this article does. A link to the June 2022 article on Reid and the Milestones and Misses homepage is below:
With the Opals at full strength for the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup held in Sydney from 22 September to Saturday 1 October Reid missed out on selection in Australia’s 12 player team.
On 13 January 2023 Reid was included in an Australian Opals extended 26 player squad for an Opals camp to be held at the AIS National Training Centre from March 31-April 5. Reid is one of four Townsville Fire players in the Opals squad along with Nicholson, Aokuso and Heal. 21 of the 26 players in the squad played in the WNBL during the 2022/23 season. The FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2023 will be held in Sydney from 26 June to 2 July.
2022 NBL1 North season with Townsville Flames
During the 2022 NBL1 North season Reid played 22 games for the Townsville Flames coached by Shannon Seebohm, her teammates included 2021/22 Fire trio Murray, Woods and development player Fabbro. Reid averaged 22.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 2.3 steals per game in 2022, led the conference for assists per game and ranked ninth for scoring and steals. Reid was selected in the 2022 NBL1 North All-Star Five. Townsville Flames finished third on the ladder with 16 wins and three losses, three wins behind minor premiers Logan Thunder and two wins behind second placed Southern Districts Spartans.
In the 2022 NBL1 North Grand Final Townsville Flames defeated the previously undefeated Logan Thunder two games to nil to win the Championship. Reid won the Grand Final MVP Award after averaging 24.5 points and 9.5 assists per game in the Grand Final series. At the NBL1 National Finals held at the State Basketball Centre in Wantirna, Victoria from 9 to 11 September Townsville Flames won two of their three games.
Steph Reid playing for Townsville Flames against Albury Wodonga Bandits at the State Basketball Centre on 10 September 2022 in the NBL1 National Finals
Steph Reid and Townsville Flames teammates being instructed by Head Coach Shannon Seebohm during the game against Albury Wodonga Bandits at the State Basketball Centre on 10 September 2022
Reid has signed with the Townsville Flames for the 2023 NBL1 North season. Seebohm isn’t coaching the Townsville Flames in 2023 but will continue to work with Reid in the WNBL off-season. James Rapinett has taken over as the Flames Head Coach. Reid has been joined at the Flames by Kate Gaze who was a teammate on Townsville Fire’s 2022/23 WNBL Championship winning team.
Reid’s exceptional 2022/23 WNBL season with Townsville Fire
On her 26th birthday, 22 July 2022 Reid extended her contract with Townsville Fire for an additional season until the end of the WNBL 2023/24 season. Fire Head Coach Seebohm told wnbl.basketball “She is someone that came in here, not having played a-lot in the WNBl, she came in here in 2020 and thrived in our program, since day one she has had a fantastic work ethic and has grown all areas of her game in the past two years. I couldn’t be more excited to know Reid will be part of the club going forward. Having Reid part of the next chapter for the club, embracing her teammates and the community will help us to build the roster and reach our goals for the future.”16
Shannon Seebohm entered his fourth season as Townsville’s Head Coach in 2022/23, having commenced the role in 2019/20. Five players from Townsville’s 2020 WNBL team that made the Grand Final were playing their third consecutive season as teammates at the Fire in 2022/23 – guards Steph Reid, Lauren Nicholson and Courtney Woods along with front-court duo Zitina Aokuso and Lara McSpadden. This continuity provides stability and familiarity for the organisation as a whole and Seebohm as coach.
Two players were recruited by the Fire from rival WNBL clubs in the off-season, Mikaela Ruef and Morgan Yaeger. Forward/centre Ruef commenced her WNBL career for Sydney Flames in 2014/15 with Seebohm as head coach and was playing her sixth WNBL season in 2022/23 having averaged more than 7.0 rebounds per game in all five WNBL seasons. As a development player guard Yaeger was a member of Sydney’s core rotation in 2021/22.
Townsville recruited two imports with WNBA experience, American forward/centre Tianna Hawkins and British/American guard/forward Karlie Samuelson. Hawkins has played over 250 regular season WNBA games and was a member of the Washington Mystix team that won the 2019 WNBA Championship. Samuelson has played in the WNBA, five seasons in Europe and has represented Great Britain. On 26 August 2022 Townsville signed New Zealand guard Krystal Leger-Walker, finalising their 10 player main roster for the 2022/23 WNBL season. Leger-Walker has represented New Zealand and in 2022 played in the inaugural Tauihi Basketball Aotearo season in New Zealand.
In Townsville Fire’s opening game of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season against UC Capitals on Sunday 6 November at Townsville Entertainment Centre Reid started in the backcourt with Nicholson alongside frontcourt trio Ruef and imports Hawkins and Samuelson. All five Townsville season opener starters played at least 20 of a possible 25 games and averaged more than 27.5 minutes per game in 2022/23. Four players on Townsville’s 10 player main roster at the start of the season played at least 15 games for Townsville and averaged between 9.0 and 20.0 minutes per game – Woods, Aokuso, Leger-Walker and McSpadden. Injuries restricted main roster member Yaeger to two games.
JCU Townsville Fire team huddle before the game against Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 7 December 2022
On 18 October 2022 a JCU Townville Fire player profiles and guide to the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season article was published on Milestones and Misses. Detailed profiles of all 10 members on the JCU Townville Fire main roster at the start of the season and Head Coach Shannon Seebohm are provided in this article as well as brief profiles for the three development players. A link to this article as well as the 2022/23 player profiles category page for Milestones and Misses is below:
On 4 November 2022 Townsville Fire announced that Nicholson had been appointed captain of the club in 2022/23 and that Reid and Ruef were named vice captains. Nicholson had been a Townsville co-captain in 2021/22 with Mia Murray. On Reid’s inclusion in the leadership group Townsville Fire Head Coach Seebohm told WNBL Media “She’s an ultimate competitor plays as hard as she can every time and someone that I think is going to be here for a long time and will probably eventually be the leader of this club.”17
After being named a Townsville vice captain along with Ruef, Reid told wnbl.basketball “I don’t think it’s any extra pressure, I’ve got a big responsibility now being the starting point guard. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve obliviously got to facilitate and organise a lot of things but I’m excited by that, and I think the girls on our team will make it really easy.”18
In Townsville’s opening game of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season at the Townsville Entertainment Centre on 6 November Reid scored nine points and made five assists in the first quarter to help establish a 41-16 Townsville lead at quarter time against the UC Capitals. Reid finished the game with 13 points and made a game-high 14 assists in 25 minutes and 49 seconds court-time. In Townsville’s 104-68 victory Reid made five of eight field goal attempts at an accuracy of 62.5% and made all three free-throws. For her superb performance against the Capitals Reid was named in the Round 1 WNBL Team of the Week. Townsville captain Nicholson scored 35 points shooting at 72.2% against the UC Capitals and was named the WNBL’s Player of the Round for Round 1.
Steph Reid playing for JCU Townsville Fire against Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 7 December 2022
On 14 November Brighter Lives announced that Steph Reid had become a Brighter Lives ambassador. Reid told brighterlives.org.au “Working with a charity that aims to improve locals’ time at hospital is so important. Whether that is through funding new medical equipment, research or providing support through volunteers, Brighter Lives really helps patients in North Queensland.”19
Reid was involved in launching Brighter Lives 2022 Care Pack Drive. “The care packs are designed to provide activities and distractions for children staying at hospital as well as patients of all ages who find themselves in hospital without any provisions such as toiletries or clothing.”20
Early in the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season two members of Townsville Fire’s 10 player main roster suffered injuries – power forward/centre Zitina Aokuso and guard Morgan Yaeger. On 6 December Townsville announced that they had signed Kate Gaze for her third stint with the club. Early in the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season Gaze had been a sideline commentator for the television coverage of Townsville’s home games at Townsville Entertainment Centre on ESPN and 9Now. Gaze was a member of Townsville’s back-to-back WNBL Championships in 2014/15 and 2015/16 and had also played two seasons for the club with Seebohm as Head Coach in 2019/20 and 2020.
Steph Reid shooting a jump shot for JCU Townsville Fire against Southside Flyers at the State Basketball Centre on 10 December 2022
In a Round 6 home game against Perth Lynx on 17 December Reid was phenomenal, scoring a game-high 27 points, took six rounds, made a game-high nine assists and had a game-high four steals in Townsville’s 98-85 victory at the Townsville Entertainment Centre. Reid made 11 of 24 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 45.8% and made all four free-throws. On the offensive glass Reid was able to gain extra possessions for her team, taking five offensive rebounds – ranked second for the game behind Townsville teammate Hawkins with 6. Reid was recognised for her brilliant game by being named the WNBL’s Round 6 Player of the Round.
Reid was a co-host along with Megan Hustwaite of The WNBL Show – EP08 published on 21 December 2022. Hustwaite asked “Tell me about how this team is operating because we are seeing different players step up every week. It is a very team-first ethos for this Townsville line-up. Reid replied “Definitely, our whole team is selfless in the sense that they honestly just want to win and we don’t care who does it for us at the time as long as it gets a good result. It is cool having someone in every position that is willing to sacrifice for the team. Its funny, you have someone like Lauren Nicholson who I am used to being like let’s get you in every offense. I said (to) Loz in the fourth quarter, ‘how do we get you enough’, she was like ‘are you kidding me, you keep coming off ball screens’. When you have someone like her, your captain that you look up to saying no, you go, that’s the mentality of our team and that is the culture we have set, just having people that want to win and care for the greater good of the team. I think it is definitely helping us and it will help us down the line as well.”
In their opening game of Round 9 on 5 January Townsville played Adelaide Lightning on the road and were defeated 68-93. After the loss Townsville had a record of five wins and four losses, their previous three losses had all been by less than 11 points in December, two points to Bendigo at home in Round 4 and two losses to the Melbourne Boomers, on the road by six points in Round 5 and by 10 points at home in Round 8 on New Year’s Eve. In their first nine games Townsville defeated Southside twice, UC Capitals, Adelaide and Perth.
On January 7 Reid reached 50 WNBL games in a road game against the University of Canberra Capitals halfway through the fifth season of her WNBL career. After seven games in two seasons as a development player with the Dandenong Rangers in 2018/19 and Southside Flyers in 2019/20 Reid had one and a half seasons at Townsville predominantly playing as a back-up point guard. At the end of January 2022 Reid had played 31 WNBL games and had averaged 5.4 points and 1.8 assists per game.
Reid started most of Townsville’s last nine games of the 2021/22 season and took the reigns as Townsville Fire’s starting point guard on a permanent basis at the start of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season. With the increased responsibility Reid flourished and took her game to a new stratosphere in the stage from 31 to 49 WNBL games. During this time Reid was remarkably consistent, scoring at least nine points in all 18 games and had at least four assists in 16 of 18 games. During this 18 game stretch spanning the second half of the 2021/22 season and the first half of the 2022/23 season Reid averaged 15.6 points and 6.8 assists per game. Compared to the first 31 games of Reid’s career this was a 288.9% increase in scoring and a 377.8% increase in assists.
Due to a lower back injury Reid didn’t play in Townsville’s Round 11 home game against Adelaide on 20 January. It was the first game that Reid missed a WNBL game since joining Townsville for the 2020 WNBL season, having played 45 consecutive games for the Fire before the lower back injury. From 16 January to 3 February Reid missed three of Townsville’s four games due to her back injury. In the one game that Reid did take to the court during this period she played only 13 minutes and 54 seconds against Sydney Flames on 29 January.
Fellow Townsville starting guard Nicholson had a foot injury and missed three consecutive games from 29 January to 4 February. On 1 February 2023 Townsville Fire announced that they had signed Shyla Heal for the remainder of the 2022/23 season. Townsville Head Coach Seebohm commented on Townsville’s addition of Shyla to WNBL Media “She is familiar face to the team and fans due to her being a key part of our run during the 2020 hub season where we played in the grand final. Her addition is due to our current injury situation and the need to provide our players the ability to look after their bodies without the pressure to play through significant pain. Shyla will add to our guard depth and provide a scoring punch for us as we aim to qualify for the finals.”21 Shyla Heal commenced the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season with the Sydney Flames and played 13 games for the Flames before leaving the club mid-season.
After the loss to Adelaide on 5 January Townsville won five consecutive games to consolidate their place in the top four. A clear top five had emerged to contend for the four finals berths with Townsville joined in this category by Southside, Melbourne, Bendigo and Perth.
On Shooting the Breeze EP 96: Sam Pascoe and Shannon Seebohm Strength in Numbers published on 9 December 2022 Townsville Fire General Manager Sam Pascoe commented on an aspect of Townsville Fire’s off court activities saying “We go into the Juvenile Detention Centre once a month for a day and do programming and clinics and again providing those healthy female role models. Everyone is admiring how amazing Stephanie Raid is on the court at the moment but I have been admiring how amazing Stephanie Reid is for a very long time for very different reasons. She is the driver behind the Juvenile Detention Centre program, she goes every Wednesday once a month and spends the entire day at the Juvenile Detention Centre working with the kids in there and trying to provide them those healthy female role models to get them back on track.”
On 31 January 2023 Australian Basketball Players’ Association published an eight minute video titled The Grind: Steph Reid Chapter 1. During the video Reid commented “When I was in Buffalo I was really fortunate, I met a kid, we called him baby Shawn and he was diagnosed with DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma) which is an incurable brain cancer. When I met him he was five or six and he was given less than six months to live and then he was given less than five years. He was not meant to keep living and now he is playing basketball but when I met him it just showed me that there is so much more, there is so much bigger things for me to worry about and to have a difference in. The platform that we are given as athlete’s, like we should utilise that.”
“I would love to create a youth engagement charity of some description to really integrate basketball and kids that are at risk or that are disengaged. I just think that there is such a bridge that athlete’s, like we have such a platform and the potential to make a difference in people’s lives. I would love to one day be able to utilise that a bit more and I think the Fire do a phenomenal job at that and I have been really lucky that they have given me the opportunity to work with them in that space and be their ambassador for the last year and a half. It is definitely something that eventually I want to get out and make a bit more of a difference as well.”
From 16 January to 14 February Reid played two WNBL games and just under 35 minutes court-time in total due to her back injury. In a home game for Townsville Fire on 15 February Reid played 35 minutes and 34 seconds court-time against the Melbourne Boomers in a game that required a second period of overtime to get a result. Reid scored 16 points, took two rebounds and made a game-high eight assists in Townsville’s 101-96 victory.
During the feature on Steph Reid shown at half-time of ESPN’s coverage of the Round 16 game between Bendigo and Townsville on 1 March Reid commented on the impact Townsville Fire Head Coach Shannon Seebohm has made on her career, saying “Being consistent in working with Shannon, I think having the coach in the off-season as well and the relationship I have with him really helped develop my game and brought me a lot more confidence. He is just a phenomenal person and I think that kind of reflects into his coaching as well. I think what he teaches us he could teach to someone who has never picked up a basketball, he is that good at explaining and teaching but he just cares about his players more than as basketball players, as people as well. I think what he has done for me over the last three years but our team in general is second to none, he is a very impactful human in the life of his players and yeah, I am super grateful to play for him. He gave me a big opportunity to start and I think that confidence really helped to propel me to become a better player.”
Steph Reid in a huddle with JCU Townsville Fire teammates during the Round 16 game against Southside Flyers at the State Basketball Centre on 4 March 2023
Townsville Fire had 17 wins and four losses during the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season to finish on top of the ladder, two wins ahead of the second placed Southside Flyers and third placed Melbourne Boomers. Perth completed the top four with 13 wins and eight losses, two wins ahead of Bendigo Spirit in fifth place. Townsville won their last 12 games of the regular season and in the process set a new club record for the longest winning sequence.
Reid played 18 of a possible 21 WNBL games for JCU Townsville Fire during the 2022/23 regular season and averaged 13.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.9 steals and 30.5 minutes per game. Reid led the WNBL for assists per game, ranked equal fourth for steals, eighth for free-throws made, 19th for minutes and equal 25th for points.
On Friday 2 March the WNBL announced the candidates for several of the awards to be presented at Cygnett WNBL 2022/23 Awards Night on 5 March. Reid was a candidate for two awards, the Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year Award and for the All WNBL First and Second Team. Both awards were voted on by the Head Coach and captain from the WNBL clubs. Reid was one of five candidates for the Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year Award and was one of five Townsville players on the list of 20 candidates for All-WNBL selection along with Nicholson, Hawkins, Samuelson and Heal.
Townsville Fire had 17 wins and four losses during the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season to finish on top of the ladder, two wins ahead of the second placed Southside Flyers and third placed Melbourne Boomers. Perth completed the top four with 13 wins and eight losses, two wins ahead of Bendigo Spirit in fifth place. Townville won their last 12 games of the regular season and in the process set a new club record for the longest winning sequence. Townsville had the best regular season in their club history with a winning ratio of 80.1%. It was the third time that Townsville had finished on top of the ladder at the end of the regular season and each time the Fire finished on top of the ladder, however on the two previous occasions each team played more than 21 games in the WNBL season. In 2014/15 Townsville had a record of 17 wins, five losses and a winning ratio of 77.3%. Townsville had 17 wins and seven losses in 2015/16 for a winning percentage of 70.8%.
The Cygnett WNBL 2022/23 Awards Night was held in the Medallion Club at Marvel Stadium on Sunday night 5 March. Steph Talbot won the Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year Award for the second time in her career, having previously won the award in 2020 when she also won the Suzy Batkovic Medal for being the WNBL’s Most Valuable Player. Two Townsville players were named on an All WNBL team in 2022/23 with Hawkins selected on the All WNBL First Team and Nicholson selected on the All WNBL Second Team. Shannon Seebohm won the WNBL’s Coach of the Year Award for the third time in his career, having previously received the award in 2014/15 with Sydney Flames and in 2020 with JCU Townsville Fire.
On 3 October 2022 the WNBL announced that “The WNBL along with new naming rights partner, Cygnett, will be introducing the Cygnett WNBL Community Award, which will recognise and celebrate an athlete who has made significant contributions to the community.
The award is inspired by WNBL legend, Jenna O’Hea, who in collaboration with the WNBL launched the Lifeline Round, raising over $15,000.
At the end of each regular season Clubs will be asked to nominate one or more athletes for the Award. The recipient will be selected by the Basketball Australia Awards Committee, with the winner to receive $5,000 to donate to the charity of their choice, thanks to Cygnett.”22
Reid received the WNBL’s 2022/23 Cygnett Community Award, being recognised for her work in the Community, including with Brighter Lives which is the official charity partner of Townsville Hospital and Health Service. Reid posted on Instagram “Absolutely honoured to be awarded the first WNBL Cygnett Community Player of the Year Award.
I am beyond grateful to be a part of the only community-owned club in the league. Thank you to the @townsvillefire for giving me an opportunity to be involved in such an amazing community and fall even more in love with community and youth engagement.
Also a huge thank you to the @brighterlives_thfoundation for taking me on as an ambassador this year and allowing me to be a part of such a wonderful foundation 💙
A special thanks to @samjlyons and @gemmalee_official for everything in the past 3 years and all the opportunities you’ve given me to be a part of this wonderful town I call home.
Being a role model to young women has always been something so important to me, made an emphasis to me by @cusecoachjack in my college days. I am so grateful to be given a platform and opportunity by the game I love to do that here in Townsville and it is definitely something I won’t take advantage of🧡”23
During the 21 March 2023 episode of The WNBL Show Megan Hustwaite asked Townsville Fire General Manager Sam Pascoe “You have done such an amazing job since you took on the gig at the Fire. Not even talking about on court results but everything you do in the community with your sponsors, charities, just everything, the local media is fantastic up there. Is that kind of how you measure your success too, rather than just the winning streaks and the victories on court?” Pascoe responded “Oh definitely and I think they go hand in hand. I think the fact that we are the only community owned club in the league, I don’t think we have one without the other. We don’t have the success on the courts and the winning streaks that everyone keeps talking about. We don’t have all of that without that amazing community support and it is something we work really hard to maintain because we know that we don’t exist without them for an array of reasons. Also because it is really important to our club that we represent this region and that we provide healthy female role models to this region and so by doing that, that is just as big a measure of success as those results on the court.
Hustwaite asked Pascoe “Just on what you were talking about “How proud were you and the Townsville Fire that Steph Reid won the Community Award at the Cygnett WNBL Awards because I know she set out to achieve that pre-season and it would have been so rewarding for all of you?” Pascoe replied “She works really, really hard in this community and she represents the club so well and our values and they are her values as well. She doesn’t do it for the accolades as much as it was lovely and I know that she felt great pride in being able to give that cheque from Cygnett to the Brighter Lives Foundation which is the Children’s Hospital Foundation up here that she is the Ambassador for. That was a really proud moment for her but she does it because she is genuinely invested and she genuinely cares. I am so proud of Steph Reid, she continues to amaze us both on and off the court.”
Three statistical awards were given out at the WNBL’s 2022/23 Awards, Leading Scorer, Leading Rebounder and Golden Hands Award. Tiffany Mitchell won the Leading Scorer Award with an average of 20.2 points per game. Mitchell’s Deakins Melbourne Boomers teammate Cayla George was runner up in the Leading Scorer Award with an average of 18.3 points per game and took 11.3 rebounds per game to win the Leading Rebounder Award. George also won the Suzy Batkovic Medal for being the WNBL’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award.
As per the WNBL Awards page of the WNBL website the “Golden Hands Award winner is determined by the following equation
(Total Assists + Total Steals – Total Turnovers) / Games Played = Golden Hands Award Rating.”24
During the 2022/23 WNBL regular season Reid had 110 assists, 35 steals, 45 turnovers and played 18 games which resulted in a Golden Hands Award Rating of 5.56, to be a convincing winner of the award and finish ahead of WNBL games record holder Kelly Wilson on 4.35 with Jade Melbourne in third place on 4.11.
Golden Hands Award Rating top 10 for the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season
Rank Player Rating
1 Steph Reid 5.56
2 Kelly Wilson 4.35
3 Jade Melbourne 4.11
4 Steph Talbot 3.50
5 Lauren Mansfield 3.48
6 Cayla George 3.43
7 Tiana Mangakahia 3.40
8 Kristy Wallace 3.25
Eq. 9 Kelsey Griffin 3.00
Eq. 9 Bec Cole 3.00
Reid’s margin in the Golden Hands Award over Kelly Wilson in second place was 28.7%. Reid led the league with 6.11 assists per game ahead of Melbourne (6.05 assists per game), Kelly Wilson (5.8) and Kristy Wallace (5.6). Reid’s 1.9 steals per game ranked equal fourth in the WNBL with Tiffany Mitchell and Shaneice Swain, behind Kelsey Griffin (2.6), Tiana Mangakahia (2.2) and Townsville teammate Tianna Hawkins (2.0). Two of the players ranked in the WNBL’s top six for steals per game also ranked in the top 11 for assists per game – Reid and Mangakahia. Reid’s 2.50 turnovers per game was the second lowest among the players ranked in the top six for assists per game, just higher than Lauren Mansfield with 2.48 turnovers per game.
Three members of the Australian Opals bronze medal winning team from the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup held in Sydney were selected in the 2022/23 All WNBL First Team – Cayla George, Perth Lynx guard Sami Whitcomb and Melbourne Boomers guard Kristy Wallace. They were joined in the team by two imports that played their first season in the league – Townsville forward/centre Hawkins and Southside Flyers forward Kayla Thornton.
Townsville Fire captain Lauren Nicholson was joined on the All WNBL Second Team by UC Capitals point guard Jade Melbourne, Melbourne Boomers guard Tiffany Mitchell, Adelaide Lightning forward Steph Talbot, Perth Lynx centre Lauren Scherf.
Five guards were selected in a 2022/23 All WNBL Team with Whitcomb and Wallace selected in the first team and Mitchell, Melbourne and Nicholson named on the second team. Although Reid was a convincing winner of the Golden Hands Award she was one of the 10 players from the list of 20 nominees that missed out on being selected in an All WNBL Team. Reid was equal with Melbourne on 13.4 points per game during the regular season and averaged less points per game than four of the guards selected in an All WNBL Team – Mitchell (20.2 points per game), Whitcomb (17.7), Nicholson (16.6) and Wallace (16.3).
During Basket Case episode 9:18 Season Finale: The Case Awards, Grand Final Preview three panel members Carol Wical, Helen Theoharakis and Mark Alabakov gave it the Case Awards including their All-Star Five. Reid was a unanimous selection in Basket Case’s All-Star Five and was one of only two players to be selected by all three panel members along with George. Bendigo Braves NBL1 South Women’s coach Alabakov commented on Reid “Had the best assist to turnover ratio so just completely safe with the ball and the way that she has been able to impact games whether she is scoring or not, or getting a lot of assists or not. The ball in her hands it is a safe set of hands and she leads you to the promised land.” Theoharakis commented “In the point guard position I had Steph Reid, I think she is the best point guard in the WNBL, I don’t understand why she is not winning these peer voted awards, it makes no sense to me at all.”
The Basket Case panel were split in terms of who the Most Valuable Player was. Wical commented “Consistent, irreplaceable, scores, defends, leads, makes other players better just by being there, my MVP for this year is Steph Reid.” Alabaov selected George as his MVP and Theoharakis voted for Whitcomb which resulted in three different players being chosen. Theoharakis commented in relation to Reid “Best player on the best team, I think you could make that argument, I 100% think you could make that argument so if we are needing a consensus on who it is I can live with Steph Reid, I think she was a top player this season so I am happy to give her a nod so we have a definitive result.”
In a semi final series first placed Townsville played fourth placed Perth Lynx. In game 1 at the Townsville Entertainment Centre on 9 March Reid scored a game-high 24 points, took five rebounds and made an equal team-high three assists in Townsville’s 81-68 victory. In game 2 Reid scored 11 points and made four assists in Townsville’s 91-84 victory at Bendat Basketball Centre on 12 March.
With the semi final victory Townsville progressed to the club’s seventh Grand Final in 11 seasons which is a phenomenal achievement. Townsville had previously made the Grand Final in four consecutive seasons from 2012/13 to 2015/16, 2017/18 and 2020.
In the other 2022/23 semi final series Southside Flyers defeated Melbourne Boomers two games to one after recording a 73-72 victory in game 3 at the State Basketball Centre on Wednesday 15 March. It was the second time in three seasons that Townsville and Southside played each other in the Grand Final. In a single game Grand Final in Townsville during the 2020 season Southside defeated Townsville 99-82.
During the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season Townsville defeated Southside in all three regular season games between the two clubs including two victories by more than 15 points comprised of one home game and one road game. In the second encounter between the two clubs Townsville defeated Southside 82-79 in a road game at the State Basketball Centre on 10 December.
During WinNews Townsville on 17 March Reid commented on Townsville’s upcoming Grand Final series against Southside “Being coached by the Coach of the Year we need to follow the gameplan. If we can do that and take care of the gameplan make sure we lock into that side of things we will take care of the game.”
Townsville hosted game 1 of the 2022/23 WNBL Grand Final series against Southside on 18 March at the Townsville Entertainment Centre. In the first four minutes and 15 seconds of the first quarter Reid scored five points and made two assists to help set up a 15-11 lead for Townsville. Townsville extended their lead over Southside to 13 points at quarter time 28-14. Townsville went on to record a convincing 94-63 victory over Southside. Reid made four of six field goal attempts at an accuracy of 66.7%, made her only three-pointer, scored nine points and made a game-high seven assists – three more than the players ranked equal second for the game.
Southside hosted game 2 of the Grand Final at the State Basketball Centre on Wednesday 22 March. In the first possession of Game 2 Reid made a lay-up to open the scoring. With five minutes remaining in the first quarter Reid had scored four points, made two assists and Townsville led 12-11. The sides were evenly matched for the next two and a half quarters and Southside led 56-55 with 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter. With composure Reid made a lay-up with two seconds remaining in the term to regain the lead for Townsville 57-56.
Steph Reid about to make a free-throw for JCU Townsville Fire against Southside Flyers in game 2 of the WNBL Grand Final at the State Basketball Centre on 22 Match 2023
Steph Reid playing for JCU Townsville Fire against Southside Flyers in game 2 of the WNBL Grand Final at the State Basketball Centre on 22 Match 2023
In the first three minutes and 40 seconds of the fourth quarter Reid was involved in Townsville’s first seven points of the term, making a fade away jump shot, two free-throws and provided an assist for a Tianna Hawkins three-pointer and the scores were tied at 64 points apiece with six minutes and 20 seconds remaining. Townsville went on an 18-5 run which included four points from Reid and defeated Southside 82-69 to win the game and the Grand Final series two games to nil to win the Fire’s fourth WNBL Championship in nine seasons, having previously won in 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2017/18. Reid finished game 2 of the Grand Final with a team-high 20 points, two rebounds, four assists and one steal. Reid made eight of 16 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 50% and made all four free-throws.
Steph Reid about to make a free-throw for JCU Townsville Fire against Southside Flyers in game 2 of the WNBL Grand Final at the State Basketball Centre on 22 Match 2023
Steph Reid along with JCU Townsville Fire teammates and staff with the WNBL Championship trophy after defeating Southside Flyers in game 2 of the WNBL Grand Final at the State Basketball Centre on 22 Match 2023
Including finals Reid played 22 of a possible 25 games for Townsville fire in the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season and averaged 13.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 30.1 minutes per game. Reid led Townsville in assists, steals and free-throws made per game, ranked third in scoring and field goals made and fourth for minutes played. Reid was one of four Townsville players that averaged more than 13.5 points per game along with Hawkins (17.3 points per game), Nicholson (15.2) and Samuelson (13.6). Townsville had a total of eight players that averaged at least 6.5 points per game with other players in this category being Heal, Ruef, Aokuso and Woods.
In an interview with television broadcaster ESPN after game 2 of the Grand Final Candy Hertz asked “Steph Reid what an exceptional game by you, by your entire team and what a season, what does that leave you with the feeling right now?” Reid responded “Oh my gosh I am so overwhelmed, it is so exciting I mean this is what you work for. We practiced so hard this season, we have had the best fans in the league all year and they have come down in full force and we are just so grateful to win, oh my gosh I am so excited.”
Hertz asked “Steph, 16 games in a row is insane in itself, you also had that double overtime, you had that incredible buzzer beater game as well, what an amazing moment is this just to add to the mix this season?” Reid replied “Yeah absolutely, I mean we have the best coach in the league and he got the recognition this year for that and he has done an amazing job this season. He made sure we peaked at the right time, he has pushed us to be better every day. The girls, they are such professionals, I am so grateful to play for such an amazing team and be led by such an amazing organisation. This team is the closest, the best group of people I have ever been with. I have never played with a team that have genuinely got along so well. From 1 to 20 that we have on the road this time it is an amazing group of people led by an amazing head of the table, our board is incredible, our GM (General Manager) Sam Pascoe, its just incredible people up in Townsville.”
Steph Reid commenced playing basketball at club level for Frankston and progressed to play representative basketball for the Frankston Blues. Towards the end of high school Reid wasn’t sure if it would be possible for her to have a career as a basketball player but remained composed and focused on things within her control which included playing good defense, providing relentless effort, utilising her basketball IQ and engaging with the local community.
After exceptional performances playing college basketball for University of Buffalo and at State League level in Frankston Reid got an opportunity as a development player in the WNBL. In Reid’s two seasons as a WNBL development player with Dandenong Rangers in 2018/19 and Southside Flyers in 2019/20 she played limited game time but was able to train alongside and learn from experienced players.
Whilst it was a long road for Reid to make it onto the main roster of a WNBL club she found the perfect landing spot when she was signed by community owned club JCU Townsville Fire for the 2020 season and had Seebohm as her Head Coach. In her first three seasons on the main roster at Townsville Fire from 2020 to 2022/23 Reid has well and truly left her mark, progressing to be the club’s starting point guard, winning the club’s Most Valuable player Award in 2021/22 and being a crucial member of the Fire’s 2022/23 WNBL Championship winning team and received the league’s Golden Hands Award in the same season.
Off the basketball court Reid has made a significant impact on the Townsville community including as an ambassador of Brighter Lives Foundation. At the league’s 2022/23 Awards night Reid became the first player to win the WNBL’s Cygnett Community Award.
One of Steph Reid’s major goals was to represent the Australian Opals. Brilliant performances as the starting point guard for JCU Townsville Fire in the WNBL led to her making her Australian Opals debut against Japan in May 2022 during a three game series. Reid is a member of the Australian Opals extended squad for a camp to be held at the AIS National Training Centre from March 31-April 5.
As a junior player Steph Reid made it on to Vic Metro squads but never got through to be a member of the final Vic Metro team to compete at a tournament, let alone an Australian under-age team. The combination of Reid’s relentless persistence, skills and community engagement together with some support from a few Head Coaches along the way in Simon Mitchell, Felisha Legette-Jack and Shannon Seebohm enabled Reid to defy the odds and achieve her dream of having a career as a basketball player. Steph Reid has demonstrated that missing out on selection for a representative team isn’t the end of your journey and that it is still possible to reach your desired destination, it might just require taking a different path and having relentless persistence to reach it.
Article and photographs by Dean Andrews
Twitter – @DeanAndrews7777
10 Grit and grind: Steph Reid on being a defensive menace (pickandroll.com.au)
Milestones and Misses
Milestones and Misses publishes articles to celebrate the achievements of sportspeople, mainly in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) and Australian Rules Football (AFL and AFLW). In sport as with life in general it is common that milestones are only achieved after overcoming adversity, so whilst the articles on the Milestones and Misses website celebrate sportspeople achieving milestones they also cover the misses along the journey such as a player having minimal game-time or spending a prolonged period on the sidelines due to injury. The aim of the articles is to enable readers to gain a greater appreciation of the journey sportspeople have had during their career.
A link to Milestones and Misses homepage and WNBL category is below:
The Milestones and Misses website was set up in December 2015. From 2020 onwards articles have been published on the following sportspeople:
Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin