The chance to play with and learn from Lauren Mansfield was a key factor in luring Bri Bailey all the way to Perth from Queensland in 2020. Unfortunately, that didn’t eventuate when COVID shut down the SBL season, but we must have done something right because promising guard Bri Bailey is coming back in 2021 for another year in Redbacks colours.
About that initial move from Queensland, she notes:
“It was a huge jump to pack up my life and move across the other side of Australia. Leaving my friends and teams, but most importantly my family behind was the hardest. I’m a very family-oriented person, everything I do in my day to day life is either with or for my family. All the travel restrictions around COVID made things in that regard difficult because I couldn’t leave WA to go see my family. But the Redbacks association made it so easy for me to get through those months. They really became my family and that’s why I love the club so much.”
How was that first season living in WA and playing for Redbacks?
“Moving to WA the biggest thing to adapt to was the dry weather as Queensland is so humid haha. Other than that, coming into a team with such great coaching staff made it easy. The girls were always there for a helping hand and advice. Once I got a few sessions in I felt so comfortable. It was like I’d been there my whole career.”
Without Lauren Mansfield in the lineup, Bri was thrust into the starting point guard role for the 2020 West Coast Classic season. How did she make that mental adjustment?
“I was so excited by the thought of playing alongside Lauren. Before the season started, I was watching her play for the Perth Lynx and couldn’t wait to be on the court beside her. Unfortunately, that didn’t end up happening and suddenly I was the starting point guard! That was different to start off with but I feel I adapted really well. As a young player myself, I wanted to show the other young girls in my team that no matter what is thrown your way or whatever plate you have to step up to, you have to give it 110% and push yourself. Taking a few of the younger ones under my wing was eye-opening in itself. Getting to know their game and their confidence boost as the season went on was so great to see!!”
What made Bri re-sign for Redbacks for 2021 given it’s so far from home?
“Coming back to Redbacks was a no brainer for me. The culture I was surrounded by was just like family. They made it a home away from home for me and took me in with open arms. They supported me during the whole season, and the girls were just like sisters. The atmosphere in the Redbacks club is incredible.”
With Mak Dyer joining the team for 2021, what are Bri’s thoughts:
“I’m so excited to play with Mak! Having coached beside her in the program she runs in Perth she has so much knowledge to offer. Also, I’ve played scratch matches against her and I love her style of play. So to be training and playing with her I know I’m going to learn heaps and have fun at the same time. I feel like we will feed off each other well.”
NBL1 Head Coach Craig Allen can’t wait to see how Mak and Bri work together this season:
“Bri’s role for us during the 2020 West Coast Classic was a substantial increase on what she experienced in Queensland at the state league level. Running the point and having that responsibility was a big step up in demand and expectation. Having the experienced head of Mak around in 2021 will change her role slightly and take some pressure off her. The experience Bri gained in 2020 should hold her in really good stead this year and I’m expecting a great season from her.”
NBL1 Director Nathan Barns is also delighted to have Bri back for 2021:
“Bri gives our team a hard edge. She is tenacious at the ball both in offence and defence. She is forever throwing herself on the ball and putting her body on the line for the team at all times. We are thrilled that she has decided to resign with the Redbacks as she is an integral part of our team.”
Finally, what excites Bri most about the SBL becoming NBL1?
“Since all games will be streamed, I feel like players and the league will get a lot more exposure than previous years and will attract better competition. It will also give family members who don’t live in WA and can’t get to games the chance to watch their favourite teams play!”