Natalie Hurst returns to the Women’s National Basketball League
Basketball star Natalie Hurst has announced she will be returning to the Canberra Capitals for the 2013/2014 Women’s National Basketball League season.
30 year-old Hurst is the Capital’s most successful home grown talent having played in six of the clubs seven WNBL Championships.
“Canberra is where my heart is and playing for the Capitals is where I belong. I bleed blue and gold so it’s great to finally be back in a Caps uniform,” Hurst said.
The Australian Opal’s squad member has spent the last three years playing professionally overseas in France and Hungary.
Most recently Hurst has played in the highest international competition, the Women’s Euro League, where she led her team Uni Gyor in points scoring and assists.
“Playing in Europe was a huge learning experience and I know I am a much better player because of it. I’m looking forward to coming back to the WNBL and hopefully making an impact,” she said.
Canberra Capital’s Head Coach Carrie Graf says signing the 163cm point guard was the clubs number one priority.
“She is an icon of the Canberra Capitals so having her back in the team will do big things for the club and for the Canberra community,” Graf said.
Hurst first played for the Capitals at age 15 as a junior development player.
Over the next 12 years she received numerous club accolades including the prestigious Player’s Player Award, recognising the team’s hardest worker.
In her final season she was elevated to Vice-Captain of the club.
“Natty brings a wealth of experience with her and a history of success at the Capitals. Her skill, leadership and impeccable work ethic are exactly what we need to get this team back to the top,” Graf said.
While Hurst has gone from strength to strength since leaving the WNBL, the same can’t be said for the Canberra Capitals.
Hurst’s last season with the team coincides with the club’s last Championship in 2010.
The following year the team made it to the grand final but lost convincingly to the Bulleen Boomers 103 – 78.
Since then the team has struggled to win games, spending the last two seasons fighting to stay off the bottom of the ladder.
With the team missing the finals for the first time since 2005, Basketball ACT Chief Executive Officer Tony Jackson says it’s time to turn things around.
“The Capitals have an enriched history of success having won the most Championships of any WNBL club. This coming season the club is committed to building a team that can once again bring a Championship back to the City of Canberra,” Mr Jackson said.
For Graf, Hurst is the biggest piece of the puzzle.
“Her international experience has helped develop her game to the standard of the world’s best. She’ll be one of the premier points guards in the league this year,” Graf said.
However, Hurst quickly dismisses suggestions the team’s success now rests on her shoulders.
“It’s never about one person in basketball. We are going to have a great team that will play together. That’s what wins Championships,” she said.
“I’m so happy to be heading home and playing in front of my friends and family. I can’t wait for the season to start.”
The 2012/2014 WNBL season commences in October and can be seen on ABC1.