THEY train hard, travel with the team and sometimes leave a game without getting on the floor.
Ballarat Rush has an exciting band of young players that have played an integral part in helping their team reach the South East Australian Basketball League women’s south conference final.
Most will be suited up for Knox tomorrow night – Auslec Rush will have 12 players dressed to play – and all will be in full voice at the State Basketball Centre.
Molly Mathews, aged 18, said it was exciting to be a part of the Rush journey, absorbing invaluable experience at training and on game day.
“One week you might be playing, other weeks you might not, but you just have to sit there prepared to go on,” Mathews said.
Mathews, Bronte Clark and Ryleigh Haire travelled with the team to Hobart for last week’s preliminary final, knowing it was unlikely they would step on court.
They still loved every moment.
Clark built up solid minutes with Rush last season and early this season, then was diagnosed with coeliac disease about three months ago.
By the time the 19-year-old regained fitness, the core playing group had clicked and Clark found herself playing more of a support role in the team.
“Mentally, it’s just as tough on the bench as on the court – we travel with the team, are there watching the whole game and even though we might not have actually played, it can still get tiring all season,” Clark said.
“We get so pumped in the warm-up and feel ready to go. After a couple of quarters on the bench the nerves start to kick in – you’re not nervous earlier – but you start to wonder when you’ll get called to go on.”
They are the players whose cameos can add spark, fulfil a specific short role, or hold a buffer for an established teammate to take a quick break.
Haire’s SEABL debut was 40 seconds long in Bendigo.
It has left her keen to taste more, so she continues to come to Rush training, long after the D-League team bowed out in a Big V elimination final in July.
“If we weren’t here, they wouldn’t have enough numbers for scrimmage each week and it would be hard for them to train,” Haire said.
Claire Constable travels down each Thursday after school from Maryborough to train.
Sometimes Constable only makes it as far as the warm-up, only joining in scrimmage if Rush has uneven numbers at training.
But she still turns up each week.
Clark said it was their job to push Rush’s starting players.
They might get pummelled on the scoreboard against them but the better the bench players were, the harder the starters trained.