Integra Ballarat Rush captain Kristy Rinaldi reached a monumental milestone in Ulverstone on Saturday, playing her 200th South East Australian Basketball League game.
Kristy has a decorated SEABL career spanning 11 years – all with the Rush – and in the meantime has had stints with multiple WNBL clubs.
“It’s a great feeling – to have 200 with one club is pretty rare and it’s something I’m quite proud of,” said Rinaldi.
Kristy’s SEABL career has seen her continually improve, year after year – she has been the Rush captain since 2011 and won the club’s Robyn Maher MVP medal twice, but never imagined how far she would come back in the early days.
“I didn’t really think about it; at 17 you’re just excited to be involved in the club and you want to train and get game time – you don’t think too far ahead.”
Although game number 200 didn’t go as planned, with a to-the-wire finish where the Rush went down by a single point, a few games stand out for Kristy.
“Last year making the conference grand final given some of the difficulties that we’d faced throughout the year was something as a playing group we can really be proud of; we just got on with things and made it there. Also this year beating Bendigo at home for the first time since probably 2007 or 2008 sticks out in my mind. And the 2007 team making it all the way to the SEABL grand final.”
That 2007 team was a special one for Kristy, and one with similarities to the current squad.
“I think this year’s team is a lot like the 2007 team; we all got along really well and were basically just a great bunch of friends who hung out together on and off the court. This year’s team is really similar to that.”
Kristy offers great advice to younger players which reflect the values that have gotten her so far.
“I think if you work hard from a young age and don’t expect anything, just go about your business, you’ll go a long way. It all comes down to hard work and wanting to be a part of a team.”