TIMING can be everything in sport.
And for new Bendigo Spirit signing Jennie Rintala, her timing could not be any more perfect.
The 6'2'' centre and power forward and South Dakota State University graduate had been plying her trade with the Kalamunda Eastern Suns in the Western Australia SBL.
Her exceptional form led to a move to Adelaide last season to cover an injury to the WNBL Lightning's import Crystal Langhorne, where she suited up in five games.
Rintala stayed in Adelaide with her husband Ryan, still pondering her future while finalising her citizenship, with the knowledge that there would likely be no imports in the WNBL this season.
It was there, during free agency, that she met with Spirit coach Tracy York, who was home during the off-season.
"Jennie reached out and as it happens she was living about five minutes from me so we caught up for a coffee," York said
It had always been Rintala's intention to seek permanent residency and secure a long-term future in Australia and it was that meeting with York that has seen that come to fruition.
"I am very excited for the upcoming season. I could not be more thrilled for the situation I find myself in," Rintala said of her citizenship and signing.
With previous professional basketball experience in Germany and Luxembourg Rintala intends to build on her brief WNBL experience with the Spirit.
"I find myself blessed to be surrounded by my team, the basketball community in Bendigo and a country that loves our sport," she said.
Rintala shapes as an integral piece of the puzzle in York's Spirit roster with her much-needed height and experience.
"Jennie will complement our roster with her defence and ability to run the floor," she said.
"She knows a couple of our girls and played a few WNBL games last year and we are confident she will be a great addition to the Spirit family," York said
Rintala, who originally hails from Minnesota, was so excited about the move to Bendigo she immediately started looking for accommodation and pondering how her future may look.
But she also has a more holistic take on what the season that lays ahead presents.
"This year's situation represents way more than the ability to join talented women on the basketball court - with this pandemic going on we are creating a path moving forward for all female athletes in Australia," she said
"I am excited and ready to play some basketball."
2020-21 Spirit roster so far: Tessa Lavey, Carley Ernst, Demi Skinner, Alicia Froling, Amelia Todhunter, Mary Goulding, Jennie Rintala, Cassidy McLean, Shelby Britten, Paige Price, Piper Dunlop.
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