ALANA Strom travelled around Australia, lived in Queensland, got married and had two children in between her two stints in the Big V.
The Portland-based basketballer returned to Warrnambool Mermaids’ ranks this season after a nine-year gap to play a telling role in their division one championship quest.
“I just wanted something for me, that’s why this year I was like ‘right, I’m going to give it a go, try out and see how I go’ and I’ve been really pleased with how I’ve done,” she said ahead of the Mermaids’ grand final series against Casey Cavaliers.
Strom, 30, has juggled weekly long-distance drives for training and games with family and work commitments.
She runs an electrical business in Portland with husband Leigh and together they’re raising Hunter, 3, and Isla, 15 months.
“They came to Mildura last weekend and watched us play. They won’t be here this weekend but they will be in Casey next weekend,” Strom said.
The Stroms settled back in Portland about five years ago after a stop-start adventure around the country.
“We went all the way around Australia. We packed up and built a van ourselves,” she said.
“We got the shell of a van, put our bed and everything in it and off we went. We spent six months travelling, got to Mackay and then stayed there for three years.
“My husband got a job up there, then we got married on Hamilton Island and we spent our honeymoon eight weeks travelling the rest of Australia back home.”
Strom jumped back into basketball, playing for Portland in the Country Basketball League competition.
But this season she decided she needed another challenge.
The Mermaids provided the ideal test.
She’s repaid Warrnambool coach Louise Brown’s faith, averaging nine points and 11 rebounds across her 23 games.
“I just wanted to try something a bit higher level to see if I could still do it,” Strom said.
“I have really embraced the challenge. I have been improving each week and (assistant coach) John (Wormald) and Louise have been fantastic, really getting me to learn my role as a tall.
“I don’t have to play everywhere on the court, I don’t have to dribble up the ball, I just have to know where I am placed, so I have been practicing my role and getting the points where I need them.”
Strom played with current-day teammates Brown and Katie O’Keefe during her first stint at the Mermaids which has helped her in her comeback season.
“It’s amazing. I feel like even though I have been out of the (Big V) game so long that with this team, I’ve just been welcomed back like I was one of their own,” she said.
Game one of the Big V grand final series is at the Arc at 6pm Saturday.
Game two and, if needed, game three will be at Casey next weekend.
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