BENDIGO Bank Spirit champion Kristi Harrower will be the Bendigo Advertiser's new Wednesday columnist throughout the Women's National Basketball League season.
In her first column, the four-time Olympic Games medallist and 2006 world championship winner tells us what it was like growing up around the Bendigo basketball scene and her path to the elite level.
It's rare that I reflect on the early days of my career, but sometimes when people ask I dig through my old photos for a look at where it all began.
I was seven-years-old when I first started playing and basketball has been a huge part of my life for 30 years.
It's been an incredible ride and I've loved every minute of it.
People tell me that I always had a basketball in my hand when I was three.
That wouldn't surprise me, after all my dad, Bernie, my mum, Janice, and my older sister, Kylee, were all involved with Bendigo basketball since I can remember.
Rangers was our association and I think mum and dad pretty much ran it.
We had a big rivalry with Beavers back in those days and I always played up an age group with Kylee.
It's hard to remember exactly, but back in under-12s in a final I think I had 32 points and I'm pretty sure when I was playing for the junior Braves we wore green and yellow!
When I was younger I hung out with a lot of the guys, because I felt like there was too much jealousy amongst the girls.
A lot of my friends were male basketballers - like Mat Campbell, Glen Saville and Aaron Trahair.
We used to muck around at Bendigo Stadium playing one-on-one or shooting games.
Otherwise we were always together riding our bikes and doing things outside.
We lived and breathed basketball and I'm still good friends with them today.
Back in those days I would turn down invites to parties because I was so involved with basketball.
When I started playing for the Melbourne Tigers in under-14s it made me think I could make it at the highest level.
The thought of playing with these kids from the city was pretty intimidating at first - not many people used to travel down in those days.
But at Melbourne I felt so comfortable almost straight away.
Dad took over as Tigers coach in under-16s and we would travel down to Melbourne every Friday night and stay in a caravan out the front of a team-mates house.
The sacrifices he, mum and my whole family have made helped me so much through my career.
In 1992/93 I was invited to the Australian Institute of Sport. It was a long time ago, but I loved it - especially not having to travel so much to play quality opponents!
Pretty soon I got my first taste of the WNBL and the Australian senior team and it all took off from there.
People tell me I always had a basketball in my hand when I was three