The prestigious medals, awarded to the “Fairest and Most Brilliant” female and male players in SA’s premier local competition, were first awarded in 1955 (women) and 1947 (men).
The list of recipients includes some of the greats of Australian Basketball, many of whom have represented Australia at Olympic Games and World Championships, and others who were pioneers of the sport in this state.
Heading the list is Phil Smyth, rightly recognised as one of our nation’s greatest basketballers. Phil was a member of the Boomers from 1977 to 1984, representing Australia at four Olympics and five World Championships. While Phil spent much of his senior playing career in Canberra, he also won a Woollacott medal while playing for Sturt in 1978.
Rachel Sporn is another legend of Australian basketball. Rachael was an Opal at three World Championships and three Olympics, winning a bronze medal in 1996 and silvers in 2000 and 2004. Locally, she won Halls medals in 1989 and 1993 while playing with West Adelaide.
Former Opals captain Jenny Cheesman had a storied career which included captaining the Opals from 1980-88, and representing Australia at 2 Olympic Games and 4 World Championships. Amongst that, she won Halls medals with Glenelg in 1974, 1977 and 1978.
The first Woollacott medallist is considered to be one of the pioneers of South Australian basketball. Keith Miller, who won the award with Anchors in 1947, is a member of the Basketball Australia Hall of Fame. He won three state titles as coach of the South Australian men’s team in the 1960s, and coached the Boomers at the 1964 Olympics.
As coach of the Opals, Jan Stirling led the team to World Championships gold (2006) and bronze (2002) medals, and two Olympic (2004 and 2008) silvers. As a player, she represented Australia at the World Championships in 1975, and was a Halls medallist in 1981 with Forestville and 1982 with North Adelaide.
“Chairman of the Boards” Mark Davis is an Adelaide 36ers legend. While compiling an NBL Hall of Fame career, he also starred for South Adelaide locally, winning a record 5 Woollacott medals – in 1986-1989 and 1992. More recently, Vikki Kelson is the most prolific of all Halls medal winners, having won the award four times – in 1999, 2000, 2001 with Adelaide Southern, and in 2005 with South Adelaide.
A full list of Halls and Woollacott medallists is available on the Central ABL website – http://www.centralabl.com.au
Basketball SA has sent an invitation to the majority of former medallists to invite them to this function. For those with whom we have been unable to get in touch, please contact Paul Arnott on 8345 8606.