This ongoing series of blogs about the WNBA covers those people and events that serve only to make me an even bigger fan of the league. This installment — Tully Bevilaqua
Fire From Down Under
In 2001, the WNBA had a contact that broadcast games on the four NBA channels that fans could watch if they were willing to pay (broadband Internet still hadn’t evolved sufficiently for on-line viewing). One team was not on the schedule for any broadcasts at all, but because they had the soon-to-be Rookie of the Year sensation (over Lauren Jackson) Jackie Stiles, room was found at the end of the season to show the hapless Portland Fire. That’s where I discovered that the star of the team wasn’t Stiles, but this Australian point guard with the curious name of Tully Bevilaqua.
The crowd chanted for Tully, and this firebrand from the land of Oz didn’t disappoint. Since that game when I was first truly aware of her, until now, she has been one of my favorite WNBA players since the league’s founding.
Tully brings a competitive one-hundred-percent spirit to the game that is rarely seen even by the best-of-the-best. The only other example that comes to mind is Sue Wicks. The first word that comes to mind is “spunky”, but you almost don’t want to use it because it isn’t enough.
To a lot of Americans, it comes as no surprise that Tully comes from Australia, a land that demonstrated in Sydney 2000 that it embraced sports (mens or womens) like no other. Let’s face it, any country that has Australian Rules Football (one of my favorite sports that disappeared long ago from ESPN) understands what sports is all about. Is it no surprise that Tully played Aussie Football when she was younger?
That Tully is also an attractive woman has certainly attracted my attention as well (hey, I’m only human). But her looks are surprising in that on the court they are overwhelmed by the athleticism of their owner.
Even though we Americans have only gotten to see Tully playing for a little more than a handful of summers and a couple of years on the Opals, not like the career she’s had in the WNBL, we are the beneficiaries. If I’m a point guard, I don’t want to face Bevilaqua. She’s pesky. I’m sure a lot of college and high school PGs have learned a lesson or two from what Tully has shown on the court.
Sadly, as with all athletes, there comes a time when you have to start thinking about calling it a career and move on to other things. The 2007-08 season with the WNBL was her last as a player. Though she’s still playing in the WNBA, currently with the Indiana Fever, it’s almost season-by-season as her role (like that of Lisa Leslie) has evolved into being more of a player/mentor. But that’s good. That’s how the sport gets better by the veterans teaching and pushing the youngsters.
What will the future hold? I’d love it if Tully could find a position in the US. She brings a tenacious spirit that positions for assistant and in-the-future head coaching positions should be available. This woman, so passionate about her sport, has a lot to share. Perhaps former Fire teammate Sylvia Crawley can find a place for her up in BC on her staff?
In any event, I’m looking forward to seeing Tully back on the court this WNBA season.
Good onya, Tully. Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie, Oy Oy Oy!