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The season that was

RMIT Redbacks Big V women's team during a game. (Credit: Samuel MacKinnon)

On the rebound from a year that was cancelled by the Covid-19 pandemic, 2021 brought about a new opportunity for the RMIT Big V program with the debut of their Senior Women’s team.

The primary objective for the group in the preseason was to create an unbeatable culture. The creation of this culture encompassed a welcoming environment, an unbeatable work ethic, trust in one another, and support of our men’s program.

As a new program we faced adversity in the beginning, the resignation of our coach and captain to pursue other opportunities led us to face round one on unsteady ground. Trevor Lee, who at the time was coaching the Eltham NBL1 men, stepped in to help guide the group until the appointment of our permanent head coach Tristian Angeles.

Tristian had been assisting the Redbacks Senior Men but took quickly to the role as head coach, bringing a positive attitude and high-quality game insight. Tristian worked hard to support and facilitate player feedback, as well as nurturing the culture that we had cultivated preseason.

The appointment of Alana Ellis as captain was a very important piece of our puzzle. Alana embodied the Redback culture and provided the team with a wealth of Big V experience. Sammy Labros, the vice-captain, was the igniting spark on the practice court and gameday, leading by example with her high energy and intense game style. Sammy finished the season as the league’s leading scorer, averaging 21 points per game.

The group was extremely young, with eleven of the thirteen team members still holding youth league eligibility in the 2021 season. This showed in round one when the team was outclassed by the more experienced Sherbrooke side. On a steep learning curve from the first round, round two brought about the first win for the Redbacks Women’s team with an 11-point victory over Coburg. The games that proceeded were a mixture of wins and losses that saw the team finish the season with a 7 and 7 record.

Once again, the season was cancelled due to the pandemic and the Redbacks were denied the opportunity to fight for the remaining finals spot. A handful of games lost by small margins or lost in the fourth quarter would leave the group hungry to achieve more.

While the on-court results were a small portion of the program's first year success, off-court the team created what they describe as “the best culture in the league”.

Shooting guard Kira Bennet elaborated “the culture is beyond compare to any other. We aren’t a team or a club, we are a family”.

The culture created allowed the transition to senior basketball with a new program to be a far less turbulent experience.

“It felt like the girls always had my back which made it easy to do my best,” said starting centre Ellen Horsley.

So, what’s next for the RMIT Redback Women’s? There is no doubt that finals are on the minds of the team for next season, as well as tipping their record in favour of the wins column.

“Both our teams have a sour taste after the 2021 season - our women’s team were fighting for a finals berth in their inaugural season whilst our men’s team were not able to finish off their dominant undefeated season. As a young up and coming program we look to continue to grow and leave our mark as a one-of-a-kind program going into 2022,” said women’s head coach Tristian Angeles.

With preseason approaching, captain Alana Ellis touched on the importance of the facilities that RMIT offered the players in their preparation and throughout the year.

“The support we received from RMIT sport was something I had never experienced before. We were able to get treatment [provided by RMIT osteo] and exercise plans [provided by RMIT exercise science], as well as free gym memberships, which was super helpful in our season preparation. This was so beneficial to the group as this gave us an edge to start the season off strong,” she said.

There is no doubt the RMIT women will be coming back next year with high expectations and big goals. If you are interested in trying out for 2022, please contact the RMIT Redbacks.


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