SUE Williams has been playing semi-professional basketball for more than half her life.
For 22 years, the 38-year-old Wanneroo Wolves guard has remained committed to playing the game at Western Australia’s top level.
Last Saturday night, she made her 500th State Basketball League appearance in a 66-48 win over the Rockingham Flames.
It’s a feat that’s been achieved by only one other ” the Cockburn Cougars’ Troy Clarke who finished his career in 2009 after 512 games.
People outside basketball would not realise the commitment required to play semi-professional sport.
Players must hold down a career outside the game, but are still expected to maintain a high performance come match day.
High fitness standards must be met, strict training schedules adhered to. It’s as serious as basketball gets before going professional. Social players need not apply.
It’s what makes Williams’ 22-year commitment all the more extraordinary.
She could have retired to the social ranks 200 games ago and still been recognised as an SBL women’s champion.
But the hunger of the former Willetton Tiger remains.
She’s willing to work to ensure she’s competitive against kids half her age.
The quest for an SBL championship with the Wolves stands as her greatest motivation, despite having already won four titles in 360 games with the Tigers. That and the fact her two children refuse to let her stop playing.
‘I want to win another championship and, besides that, my kids love me playing,’ she said. ‘Every time I bring the subject up that I might not play next year they’re like: ‘no Mum’!’
She admitted she was a little slower, her shooting might not be as sharp, but the fact she was a ‘fitness freak’ had kept her in the line-up.
In the twilight of her career she had adapted her role in the team to one of guidance and leadership. ‘I fill gaps and I talk a lot and communicate really well with all the younger girls to help them out on and off the court.’
Extremely modest, Williams had been embarrassed by the attention received for reaching 500 games.
But she was proud of the achievement, especially after seeing her parents’ reaction.
They had backed her since she joined the league as a 15-year-old in 1990.
‘My parents are so excited that I finally reached it and they’ve obviously invested a lot of time, money and effort into supporting me,’ she said.
With the Wolves two games clear on top of the SBL ladder, Williams’ dream of a championship with the side is a serious possibility in 2013.