RED DUST LADY HEELERS FEATURE
The newest team in the competition, the Red Dust Lady Heelers joined the WNWBL in 2017 as the league’s sixth club.
Following on from the Red Dust men’s debut in the NWBL three years ago, the Heelers program have extended their reach to the WNWBL this season as they aim to offer more opportunities and tangible pathways for those interested in playing wheelchair basketball.
The Heelers Program was conceived in 2012 by Outback Academy Australia and their connection to that part of the country remains strong with players required to participate in community engagement programs, cultural awareness training, mentoring from Elders as well as promoting a community of respect and friendship.
“With Uncle Kevin Coombs OAM as our Patron, we have a strong commitment to creating disability awareness, inclusion and participation in Aboriginal communities across Australia,” said Lady Heeler Kathleen O’Kelly Kennedy.
“We are fortunate to have strong support from the Victorian Women's Trust and our Ambassador Evonne Goolagong-Cawley AO MBE as well.
“For the younger players in our team, it is about the opportunity to develop as leaders in their communities through mentorship from the likes of Evonne, our senior Heelers and many other strong Aboriginal and other women linked to Red Dust.”
Programs such as ‘Wheeling and Healing’ provide a powerful and interactive two days of disability awareness raising, showcasing the capacity of people with disabilities and a disability advocacy awareness workshop intertwined.
On court, the Lady Heelers have already claimed two victories this season as they head into Round 4, succeeding against the Kilsyth Cobras in Round 1 before taking care of Queensland Comets in Round 2.
With seven games still to come, a finals appearance is certainly on the cards as they only sit three points behind the Cobras in fifth place the ladder.
O’Kelly-Kennedy is pacing them with 14.8 points and 12.3 rebounds per game and sits as one of only five players in the league to be averaging a double-double.
She has been aided by Georgia Inglis (7.4 points, 4.6 assists per contest), who came across from the Stars this season to join the Lady Heelers as she already represents Red Dust in the NWBL.
Inglis was a 2016 WNWBL Champion with the Stars and previously was named in the league’s All-Star Five team in 2014.
Despite only appearing in four games so far this year, Deanna Smith (11.8 points, 9.3 boards and 2.5 assists) has been Red Dust’s most effective player while Australian Glider Clare Nott is also a key member of the side, averaging 4.6 points and 3.6 rebounds.
Since joining the WNWBL, Nott has been awarded the 1-point MVP in 2013 and 2015 while two years ago she combined that award with the overall MVP honour as a member of the Championship winning Kilsyth Cobras.
In addition, the likes of Taylah Perry, Tahlia Hagart, Melissa Collins Ferrett and Lily Poulter are receiving some important lessons both on and off the court from the experienced and internationally practised members of the team.