THE QUIRK IN THE RAIDERS
Friday, July 27, 2012
Rachael Quirk is not your conventional basketballer. With many reliant on having the ball in their hands to have an impact on a game, Quirk is quite the opposite thriving on the defensive end.
“They put me on the more dominant scorer on the other team, and I have to lockdown players and be an annoying defender. I take pride in it, I don’t like being beaten.”
Quirk’s defensive mentality has been a major reason behind her rise in 2012, making an immediate impact in her first SEABL season averaging over 11 minutes per game.
The unique style of the 19-year-old Quirk has added diversity to this fresh Knox Under Armour Raiders women’s line-up, with Quirk believing the coaching change playing a pivotal role in her rise to SEABL level.
“Don’t get me wrong, I liked playing under Cameron (McCormack), but I reached a point where I needed a new challenge and it was really good this year with Cheryl (Chambers) and Robbie (Baldwin) both coming in as fresh faces, it was just the right timing for me.
“Cameron was my coach in domestic, U16s and D-League, and he’s a great coach who taught me a lot, but having Cheryl and Robbie coming in was like a clean slate. It was good to show them what I’ve got as they didn’t know me before hand,” an appreciative Quirk said.
Quirk joined the D-League team in 2009 as a 16-year-old, averaging 13 minutes per game in her first year, but her minutes plateaued over the 2010 and 2011 seasons, not hitting the court in either of the D-League Grand Finals.
Still playing in the D-League competition as well as SEABL this year, Quirk’s minutes have increased from an average of 11 to 26, helping guide the inexperienced D-League women to third position on the ladder heading into finals next week.
Quirk’s basketball journey began as a nine-year-old, after she quit netball to follow in her brother’s footsteps and play basketball with the Saints Basketball Club in Knox’s Junior Domestic Competition. Playing 11 seasons with the Saints, she still reflects on her friendly rivalry against Raiders teammate Sam Donald and the Knox City Cougars.
“I used to play against Sam, Emily (Schill) and Susan (Sears), they were always in the Cougars and they always dominated. It was always us and them in the A grade finals, but we never one won.”
Reflecting on her best basketball memory, she couldn’t overlook her first season of junior Raiders, where she made the first U14 team, which eventually qualified for the Australian Club Champions – the first Knox team to do so in seven years.
“It’s probably my best basketball memory especially it being my first year, it was kind of overwhelming but looking back at it now it’s pretty sick to be able to do it all in one year. We were the first Knox team in almost a decade to qualify, and it was a big deal. There was a lot of pressure on us to do well, but we just went out and played and it was real fun,” Quirk said, with the team finishing fifth, only losing one game in the championships.
Quirk rates playing in the SEABL team right up there with her U14 achievements, aspiring to teammate Kelly Wilson as someone she would like to model her game on.
“I really like the way Kelly plays. The way that she just organises the team and how she has so much control is amazing. I would love to bring that into my game offensively because she’s just so dominant.”
Unaware of Wilson’s dominance, Quirk said the expectations leading into the 2012 season were not too high, and says that no one would have expected to be 19-1 at the beginning of the season.
“With a new coach and then Kelly coming in, our whole core and pretty much our starting five from last year left. We were kind of expecting it to be a year where we got to know each other and build for 2013, but in the pre-season we had the common goal that we had to work hard and mesh as a team, and its worked and we’ve just clicked.”
Balancing her basketball with her studies in Exercise and Sport Science at Australian Catholic University, Quirk laughed off suggestions that boyfriend Justin Aver from the SEABL Men’s team and herself are Knox’s new glamour couple, with the two not just sharing common interests.
“Justin has small feet; he’s like half a size bigger, so when my shoes broke I just wore his old ones for a couple of weeks,” Quirk laughed, declaring that Aver will be wearing her pink Asics in next year’s SEABL Spectacular game raising money for breast cancer.