THE Bendigo Bank Spirit have a lot to thank Jan Griffin for.
At the conclusion of last year’s Women’s National Basketball Association season in the United States, Kelsey Griffin fielded offers from basketball clubs across the globe.
The Connecticut Suns forward was in hot demand.
Thankfully, Kelsey listened to her mother, Jan.
“I’ve always wanted to come to Australia, so I was pulling for her to play for Bendigo,’’ Jan Griffin said yesterday.
The rest is history. Kelsey signed with the Spirit, where she has made a huge impression on and off the court.
She’s averaging 16 points, nine rebounds and one assist per game and is one of the main reasons why the Spirit will play in tomorrow’s WNBL grand final against Townsville.
Sitting in the stands tomorrow will be her proud parents, Jan and Jim, who flew out from Alaska this week.
“This is the happiest I’ve seen Kelsey since she’s been playing in the professional ranks,’’ Jan said.
“Kelsey had only been in Bendigo two days, we Skyped and her eyes were bright blue and she was so happy.
“We’re so happy that we can be here for the grand final.”
Jim and Jan have had their three-week Australian trip planned for months.
“It worked out that the grand final coincided with our trip arrangements,’’ Jim said.
“It makes it a much nicer holiday. I’d been hopeful all year that the Spirit would make the grand final and they’ve done so well.”
Jan said modern technology has helped her and Jim keep in touch with Kelsey and the Spirit’s fortunes.
“We follow the team closely via the internet,’’ Jan said.
“The coverage on the Bendigo Advertiser Spirit page has been fantastic.
“We listen to home games on the radio as well. We don’t always understand what’s being said on the radio, but that makes it more fun.”
Jan and Jim had their first look at the Spirit squad at Thursday night’s final training session.
“I was really impressed with how hard the girls practised,’’ Jim said.
“They were very focused, played hard and kept each other accountable.
“To me it speaks volumes of how they’ve got to where they are.”
Jan and Jim’s first impressions of Bendigo have been favourable.
“It’s hot here,’’ Jan said with a chuckle.
“Really, it’s wonderful, everyone is so friendly.
“I’m doing the rounds of the coffee shops and the coffee is amazing.
“Everyone is giving us some wonderful ideas on places to go. It’s a beautiful place.”
That being the case, can Spirit fans rely on Jan and Jim to talk Kelsey into another season with the Bendigo Spirit?
“We won’t have to talk Kelsey into coming back,’’ Jan said. “She’s loved it.”