Smithton: Priceless

After six seasons playing in the NWBU and five years at Smithton, Rhonda Price feels the time is right to move into a new chapter of her life. Picture: Bodey Dittloff.

Experience. From a young age, Rhonda Price has always held an adventurous spirit and a love for basketball.

It’s what would eventually draw her away from her home town of Dayton in Ohio to live and play in Atlanta, before plying her trade across Lithuania, Portugal and subsequently, Australia.

“Basketball is my passion,” she said. “I adjusted pretty well whenever I needed to in life.”

Now, after five seasons playing for the Tall Timbers Smithton Saints, the 33-year-old has decided to call time on her NWBU career and board a plane back to America on Tuesday morning.

“It’s like I’ve finally had a chance to sit back and reflect,” she said.

“To be in a country like Australia, for six years consecutively, says a lot. Australia is a beautiful country.

“After six years of back and forth every six months, I think it’s finally caught up with me.”

Price first settled in south-east Queensland in 2008 to play for Toowoomba, before being recruited by the Launceston Tornadoes in 2009 and making her NWBU debut for Smithton against Latrobe on March 24.

Coincidentally, Price’s one-season stint for the Demons in 2010 ended in a premiership, with last year’s preliminary final defeat the Saints’ highest finish in her 115-game career.

But despite not clinching a league title during her time at Smithton, Price said she has “no regrets” about her experience: “I have no regrets in my whole life – that’s what defines who you are.”

With her defensive qualities and clinical shooting ability defining her as a player, the last three seasons have seen a total of 847 rebounds taken and 1784 points made by Price, with averages of 13.66 and 28.77 respectively.

She acknowledged the support of the club over her time at the Saints, and in particular Marg Radford, with whom she had built a special relationship.

“She’s like a mum to me,” she said. “She keeps me grounded, keeps me fit . . . makes me feel like I have a home.

“Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve been with good people. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had that.”

Price’s contribution has extended from her playing role into coaching, taking the U/12 girls, U/14 boys, U/16 girls and U/18 boys under her wing since arriving in Smithton.

“At first, my approach was a bit nervous – I never imagined myself as a coach,” she said.

“I had a talk to one of my coaches back home, and he said ‘just be yourself’. After that, I went back to simple basics.

“[Now] I’d like to coach maybe high school or junior college, depending on what opportunities stand.”

While looking forward to reuniting with family and friends back home, Price will look to finish a Bachelor of Sports Science over the next two years, with plans to expand her own basketball enterprise into the future.

“Because of everything I have in the works, I’m that eager to learn now,” she said.

“Once I finish school, I plan to come back to Australia – and to Smithton – to give back a little.

“You never forget where you come from. Here’s where I started my coaching – I’ll never forget that.”

She’s making sure of her promise, with a tattoo inked into her right arm to represent her time in Australia.

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