Stacey Barr is one of a growing number of female basketballers who have tried their hand at AFL Women’s football. While she would love to play both ALFW and basketball in the future, Barr made it very clear as to the sport of choice.
“I’d love to be able to play both,” explained Barr. “Monique Conti has been pretty successful [as an example in excelling at both sports], however basketball is my main focus.”
That’s great news for the Laser Electrical – Carrum Downs Blues fans as Barr made the choice to move across from the State Basketball League in Western Australia where she had been playing following a standout 4 years at college with the Idaho Vandals, to Frankston in the SEABL. While the move back to her hometown of Melbourne is one thing, Barr is driven to make an impact on the court this season for the Blues with a view to playing in the WNBL or even in Europe during next summer.
“I’m now back in Melbourne which is nice, closer to family but also a new challenge,” added Barr.
“[In coming to Frankston] I just wanted to play at the highest level I could while being able to challenge myself. In speaking with Frankston and Simon [Mitchell] I felt like it was a really good fit.
“The SEABL is very strong, and I had only played in the Big V before I went to college, so I had heard good things and wanted to give it a go. Compared to the SBL [in WA], there are more WNBL teams playing in Melbourne. While there are some fantastic players in WA, it does not filter down to being as strong as as competition like the SEABL.”
With players like Perth Lynx and Seattle Storm star Sami Whitcomb lighting up the SBL, Barr was keeping good company while also impressing in her own right. The shooting guard poured in over 24 points and 6 rebounds and 3 assists per game for Willeton last season. To demonstrate her explosive scoring capabilities, she contributed 20 or more points on 15 occasions, including an incredible 52 point outing against the Lakeside Lightning and another 43 points clinic against the Perry Lakes Hawks.
While Barr played down her individual exploits, she brings to the Blues much-needed scoring, three-point shooting, toughness, and a winning mentality. After a slow start in her Blues debut against the visiting Nunawading Spectres, Barr finished with a flurry to add a team-best team-high 26 points with 7 rebounds and 4 assists in a respectable loss.
“I had been with the team for just one training session before the game against the Spectres,” said Barr.
“All the changes…with people coming in and out, including with injuries, it just makes it tough. However we are making it competitive, and we don’t use injuries as an excuse. We go into battle with the girls we have on the night. When they come back [from injury] over the next week or two, and we get a training session together as a group – we are going to go out there and compete.”
When asked whether their breakthrough first win of the season was just around the corner, Barr was forthright in her response.
“I think it is! Each week we are getting better and more familiar with each other and how we play. In the locker room, we are really all enjoying playing together too. This weekend, our road trip to Tasmania should really help us as well both on and off the court.”
With the addition of former University at Albany star Shereesha Richards and the imminent return of Ross and Simmons from injury, it is hard to see how the Blues could not start winning such is the talent that Mitchell has assembled this season to complement the likes of Barr and rising star Lana Hollingsworth who follows Barr’s path to college later this year.
“It was a really good four years,” enthused Barr in reminiscing about her time at college with the Vandals. “It was a wonderful experience. Anyone considering going should give it a go.
“I have not talked too much about it with Lana yet, she has asked some questions though. It is getting close and very exciting for her. One thing that American coaches really appreciate is our [Australian] work ethic. She should do really well.”
While Hollingsworth’s college career beckons, Barr is firmly focused on the SEABL season ahead with a long-term view to enhancing her all-round game and ultimately her resume with a view to the WNBL or playing in Europe.
“Having Simon helping me this year is a plus,” explained Barr. “I’m aiming to improve my efficiency as a guard, while also being able to play the point as much as being able to score. Defensively, I am focused on working on all aspect of my game, and I know I will get a great chance to improve.
“I would love to try and get an opportunity to play in Europe, or to be able to play in both the WNBL and AFLW which would be ideal. However basketball is my main focus and that is what I am working on.”
Barr is currently leading the Blues in scoring (22ppg), assists (2.7) and is third in rebounding (6.7). Blues fans should make sure they take every opportunity to see the explosive guard in action this season who is sure not to disappoint through her hard work and breathtaking three-point shooting.