A club legend has returned to guide the Ballarat Rush for the NBL 1 South season, with games record-holder and former captain Kristy Rinaldi signing on for the 2021 year.
And all going well, it will be a major celebration for the popular leader who is just three games off her 300th appearance for the club, having previously played for 13 years.
It will be the second time Rinaldi has come out of retirement in the past 12 months, having been all set to take to the new Ballarat Sports Events Centre in 2020 until the moment the season was abruptly cancelled.
"I'm really excited to be back playing after a few years away," she said. "Ballarat is my home town and to be back in the Rush colours is something I'm really looking forward to."
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It's been a long haul for basketball players and fans after the cancellation of the 2020 season. It is hoped the new NBL 1 season can begin sometime in April. As yet there are no updates on when a fixture will be released, but they are expected soon.
Rinaldi said she was looking forward to playing in front of the home crowd in the new facility, whenever that may be.
She complimented both Ballarat and the NBL1 for the work behind the scenes in preparation for the upcoming season.
"I can't wait to play in the new Ballarat Sports Events Centre," she said. "I think Ballarat and the NBL1 have done an incredible job to get this season up and running considering the global pandemic.
"I think it will be a really tough season with some great players returning to the league and I know all the girls can't wait to get out there.
"I think Eric Hayes and Megan Collins have done a fantastic job over the last few years in building the team and players. I certainly watched closely in 2019 at how they played and I think it will be exciting to watch."
She said the atmosphere inside the centre was like no other. "The community and fans are what makes you want to play here," Rinaldi said. "They are just as passionate as the players and I can't wait to be back."
Ballarat Rush Committee Member Lynly Doherty said the wealth of experience and leadership Rinaldi would bring to the team could not be underestimated.
"Given the postponed 2020 season, Ballarat supporters have had to wait that little bit longer to see Kristy return in the Ballarat Rush uniform," she said.
"We know the crowds will be excited to have her back and we're looking forward to seeing the passion and commitment that Kristy brings to the game."
Rinaldi is the fourth player announced for the Ballarat Rush roster so far. She joins Alicia Froling, Claire Blower and Claire Constable in the 2021 line-up.