PAT Pitts has been everything ever required of her in country basketball and more.
Our 2019 Jack Terrill Medallist has been one of our most loyal and committed volunteers and administrators who is loved and adored throughout Ballarat, Maryborough and the entire basketball community of country Victoria.
For many people who have risen through the country basketball ranks over the last four or so decades, Pat has always been a part of their lives and central to our programs. She’s one of those tireless individuals who serves basketball wholeheartedly and has loved every second of her life involved in our wonderful sport.
With the current postponement of events, including the BVC Awards, we weren’t able to present Pat with her Jack Terrill Medal, but she was thrilled to join the echelon of country elite administrators, coaches and volunteers who are synonymous with Basketball Victoria Country’s highest honour.
“It’s a wonderful award to receive and I was absolutely shocked to be told I had won it – looking at the list of people of who have won it over the years since are names that I know very, very well and all have done fantastic work for BV country over the years,” Pitts said. “It’s an amazing list of people and a lot of people involved in basketball today wouldn’t know these names – Max Brisbane, Ashley Donaldson, the list is pretty long and goes back to the late 70s.
It all started in Melton where Pat became a country basketball coach for the first time; igniting that passion for the sport that she would never put out.
From there her life shifted to administration as she took the reins of SEABL and ran the league from her house…. in the pre-internet era. It’s safe to say that whatever Pat put her mind to was achieved and then some!
“I started in BVC coaching in Melton in the late 70s – coaching the under-14 girls and 16 girls squads and after that time I became involved in SEABL and played for Melton in the Division 1 Championships – that was my first involvement,” Pitts said. “Moved to Diamond Valley and was also involved in SEABL from the minute it started at the end of the 70s and through to the end of the 80s – using my fax machine, phone and a very little budget, but it was a fantastic league.
“It was a men’s league only when I was running it and during the season it was about 60 hours a week of work – had to book all the airline flights for the teams and was very hectic.”
From there she retired to Maryborough and became part of the country basketball scene in with her home town association as well as in Ballarat.
Pat played the game until she was 66, playing alongside her daughter in a Ballarat morning competition. That speaks proudly about her fondness for all things basketball. She has loved every second on court and did whatever she could to be part of the game. As a player, coach, referee, administrator, team manager, court supervisor, volunteer… you cannot find a role that Pat not only did, but also flourished in.
She’s been a big part of all country events over the years – Country Cup and the Jamboree amongst others but especially Academies and Skills Days.
“Love watching the teams progress and most of the children we started with in academies 27 years ago, when I first became administrator for my region, they’re all grown up and have children and it’s lovely to see them again and catch up,” Pitts said. “They’ll always come up and say hello to me – people who you had in the program when they 11-12 and now married in their late 30s, they all still come up and say hi.”
She’s the first to put a hand up when someone needs help. Whether it was as a team manager for a certain Maryborough team coached by her husband Ray that featured a young NBA champion in the making, all the way through to the present where she was a big part of Ballarat hosting the Under-14 Club Championships and had put her hand up again for the currently postponed Under-18 Australian Junior Championships and Kevin Coombs Cup.
It’s her volunteering spirit at play.
“There’s always some job someone can do,” Pitts said. “We hosted the national tournament in Ballarat recently and there’s always a job there – some volunteers who were even older than I was.
“There’s always a job you can do- just cause you can’t coach, ref or manage, there’s always something you can do and it’s the best thing you can do as it feels like you’re giving back to your sport, your community and to the children as well.
“It’s who we are as country people so many wonderful volunteers in Ballarat, always have people who put their hands up.”
While she’s willing to be the first to set up and the last to pack up from the day’s work across her years in country basketball, everyone finds their passion over the years. For Pat it was junior development.
She’s been a part of the Central Academy for decades and gets the greatest sense of pride and joy from seeing the tiniest juniors rise up and reach for their potential.
“My passion really is the under-14 and under-12 age groups which I really enjoy being involved in and seeing those children develop and represent their state and go on to represent their country and even in the NBA,” Pitts said. “Seeing all the age groups that won a state title was lovely, to see somebody at your camps and being part of the program to go on and represent their country at the Olympics and the NBA – we’ve had a few of our girls who did really well like Matthew Dellavedova and Abbey Wehrung.
“I love watching those things happen but at the same time I’m happy to see someone improve their game – they might not play at the highest level when they grow up, but they come to the program and improve their game.
“We have about 18 coaches who attend weekly training, travelling an hour away or more to train these children across our region as well and that’s very rewarding.”
Pat wanted to give a special thanks to her family for their support of her basketball passion including her husband Ray, her daughters Carly and Sarah and her grandchildren.
“I just wanted to thank my family – especially my husband and daughters,” Pitts said. “The support of my two wonderful daughters – they supported the fact that I was a busy mother involved in my sport and both did well in the sport and were referees as well.
“Husband who has been a total support as well – met him in England when I was playing in England – he supported me playing my sport and became involved and took on big roles himself within our sport.
“I went to England as a 21 year old and brought him back five years later.
“Came back to Australia in 1974. Melton and got involved in basketball there. Championship secretary there, volunteer at the door running the juniors and started reffing then as well. Started refereeing, did the course and was qualified and started then over 40 years ago.
“Basketball has been a major part of our lives and the girls loved the game.”