REPAYING the basketball association which helped her become a WNBL player was important to Louise Brown when she returned to Warrnambool from Queensland five years ago.
The former Bendigo Spirit guard, who also spent time in the American college system, was part of a team effort which revived the Mermaids' Big V program in 2017.
She has also invested heavily in its junior squad program, working with some of the region's brightest prospects as coach.
Two of those players - Port Fairy-based Poppy Myers and Eve Covey - have learned from Brown.
She has coached the duo for three years, watching them flourish into Victorian under 16 teammates bound for the Basketball Australia championship in Perth later this year.
Warrnambool has boasted its share of female state players over the decades and even some national representatives - think Annie Blackburn who played for Australia at the under 17 world championships and Maddy White who donned the green and gold for under 19 world cup qualifiers.
Selections had dried up in recent times but Brown believes Myers and Covey - both bottom-age prospects - could be the first in a run of state representatives from the 'Bool.
"It's been a while since we've had some girls consistently in the program," Brown told The Standard.
"Probably if you go back to my era - a long, long time ago - we probably consistently had girls in the program then."
Brown - née McLean - rattles off names. There was Katie O'Keefe (née Davis), Nicole Gynes (née Hunt) and Jae Leddin (née Conn). "We were all different age groups so there was always someone involved," she said.
Now there is a new generation coming through the ranks. Shelby O'Sullivan and Olivia Lenehan were also invited to recent Victorian training camps, as was Summer Millard, from Portland, who travels to plays for Warrnambool.
"You have Molly McLaren, who missed out, and I think she has the potential to play in a state team one day," she said.
"Satu Johnstone is another guard. There's a lot of them."
For Brown, watching Warrnambool women's basketball find its rhythm again is pleasing.
She can see a bright future for its Big V program, currently coached by Lee Primmer.
"I am invested in these girls and girls' basketball but there's a lot of other people who have coached them and helped them along the way as well," Brown said.
"I am sure they would be just as proud of them. It is really exciting and hopefully these girls go on and represent our town and do us really proud."
Myers and Covey are already part of Warrnambool Mermaids' extended Big V training squad.
"There's a group of under 16 girls who have been training with us but they are not in our official squad of 15," Brown said. "They are in our extended squad of about 25 and on a Thursday night we have 16 and 18 year olds who join in."
Myers and Covey's state team selection will inspire others, according to Brown.
"I think it is fantastic, it is a great achievement for them and all the hard work they put in," she said.
"Poppy fits the mould of an athletic guard, she can run all day, she can jump.
"Eve's quite smart, she really understands the game and understands her role.
"That potential has always been there and that age group of girls (for Warrnambool), in my opinion, has quite a few girls with a lot of potential, they are a really nice side.
"The past 18 months with COVID their basketball has been very stop-start and all of those girls probably found it hard to get a bit of consistency.
"Over the last six months, they've taken their basketball to the next level."
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