SHE has had two children along the way but nothing has got in the way of her basketball career and Denielle Lipscombe wouldn’t have it any other way as the Perth Redbacks guard celebrates reaching 250 SBL games this Saturday.
Lipscombe’s career in the SBL began back as an 18-year-old at the then Wanneroo Wolves in 2007 and that was not longer after making the move all the way across the Nullarbor having grown up and completing her schooling in Cairns.
But ever since that first season at the Wolfpack in 2007, Lipscombe has been a regular part of the SBL across three clubs and now she will celebrate her 250-game milestone this Saturday when the Redbacks host the South West Slammers at Belmont Oasis.
Along the way Lipscombe has given birth to two children, now aged five and three, but it has never got in the way of her playing basketball and it’s a journey she is now deservedly proud of as she reaches 250 games.
“It is a good milestone to reach. It shows that I’ve been around for a long time now and it’s a good achievement to have stuck at it. I am looking forward to it,” Lipscombe said.
“I suppose I haven’t really achieved anything in my basketball career in terms of championships or any individual awards, but I’ve just really enjoyed playing the game and being part of the game at a pretty high level for so long.
“I’m proud that even though I’ve had kids, I’ve been able to play for this long and that I’m still going pretty strong. I did probably think that by the time I was 30 I would have kids and would have stopped playing by now, but I’m proud that I’m still running around and am able to contribute to my team.”
It would be easy for the 30-year-old to have decided she needed to devote her basketball time elsewhere especially now with the two children, but quite simply she loves the game too much and can’t imagine life without it.
“I’m probably one of the oldest girls on the team now, but I just couldn’t imagine my life without playing basketball,” she said.
“I just love the competitiveness of it and being part of a team, and the bond that you have with your teammates. I just love being able to be part of that environment and everything that goes with it. Life would be pretty boring if I didn’t have the escape of playing basketball I think.”
Another thing continuing to drive Lipscombe on is the drive to win that elusive championship in the SBL.
Perhaps the closest she has been was with last year’s Redbacks team who finished the regular season in second position before reaching the semi finals and coming up short against the Mandurah Magic.
Lipscombe could sense the start of building something special, but that all came to an abrupt end in the off-season with coach Charles Nix along with star players Kayla Steindl, Makailah Dyer and Mikayla Pirini all moving on.
That has made for a challenging start to the 2019 season for the Redbacks with them losing their opening six games, but they broke through to beat the Mandurah Magic last Friday night and now with two imports on board, Lipscombe hopes they can build some momentum again.
“It was devastating to be honest. We had worked so hard to put that team together and to build up our chemistry to the point we thought we made ourselves into a really strong team,” Lipscombe said.
“We thought we were building something I could hopefully stick together for a while so we could experience some success. When that’s then taken away from you it’s pretty disappointing and it’s been tough for us to get going again so far this season.”
Reaching a milestone like 250 games in the SBL also provides a chance to reflect on the journey to get there and it has been quite the ride for Lipscombe.
It all started at the Wolves back in 2007 and she went on to play 98 games there over four seasons before joining the East Perth Eagles.
She added another 83 matches at the Eagles across five seasons before coming to the Redbacks in 2016 and now in her fourth season, that’s where she will always feel at home.
“It’s been an interesting time. When I was at Wolves, I was just starting out my career and finding my feet so there was some interesting times there. I never probably felt really settled, but I’m grateful to them for giving me my start,” Lipscombe said.
“Then at East Perth I really enjoyed my time there. That’s where I was when I had my first child, my daughter, as well, and they were a great support when I was going through that. So I enjoyed my time there but it’s really been at the Redbacks where I’ve had the best time.
“That’s where I feel at home now and we just have such a special. We all get along so well and have a special bond that it just makes it such an enjoyable experience to be around the team that you can’t get enough of it.”
At no point while pregnant or having become a new mum did Lipscombe ever think about taking a season off, or taking a break from basketball.
That’s something she is proud of when she does reflect on the journey to 250 games and she feels it’s worked out perfectly to have that escape of playing basketball while relishing the duties of being a mother.
“I’ve been able to pretty much keep playing non-stop despite having my kids too which while it’s had its challenges, is something I’m pretty proud of,” she said.
“I had my daughter and was back on the court eight weeks later which was probably pretty crazy, but I just missed it and wanted to get back on the court.
“I’ve had to have a lot of help to be able to keep playing basketball with the kinds growing up and I’m grateful to that support, but I wouldn’t have had it other way. Basketball provides me with a bit of an escape to get out of the house and to talk with adults after talking with kids all day.”
Another bonus of Lipscombe continuing to play basketball while having children and now with her two kids being old enough to embrace their mum playing basketball, is that they get to join in with everything that goes with the game.
Her kids will now always remember seeing their mum play and she hopes it inspires them to stay active as they grow up further, but she’ll let them chose what sport or activity they want to play.
“I think they love watching me play and they even get into it and boo the team we are playing against, which is all a bit of fun,” Lipscombe said.
“Someone has to always be watching them to make sure they don’t run out of the stadium, but they have a great time and I’m proud that they are now at an age where they will be able to remember watching me play basketball.
“They’ve both started playing in the Spiderling program at the club now too and hopefully by seeing mum being so active, they stick with being active when they get older whether they choose basketball or footy or anything else.”