Rae’s on a mission to create sparks for the Caps

Rae Burrell in motion taking part in for the College of Tennessee.

“I simply need to win. I really like profitable so I need to win video games and win a championship.” The Canberra Capitals are welcoming Rae Burrell to the crew, experiences sport columnist SIMON ANDERSON.

PRESEASON is one thing each sports activities individual approaches otherwise. Some individuals thrive below the extreme coaching, readying themselves for the beginning of competitors, whereas others detest the sight of the trainers ready to place them by their paces.

Simon Anderson.

When she touches down in Canberra this month, new Capitals’ signing Rae Burrell might be among the many former, notably given the yr she has had, filled with ups-and-downs.

In April, Burrell realised a dream when she was chosen by the Los Angeles Sparks because the ninth choose of the Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (WNBA). The primary-round choice got here after Burrell excelled with the College of Tennessee below head coach Kellie Harper.

On the time Harper credited Burrell’s work ethic as the explanation for her going so excessive within the draft.

“She is a physically-gifted participant with a excessive motor who labored very exhausting to place herself in place to be chosen within the WNBA Draft,” Harper mentioned on the time. 

“She is an intense competitor who needed to overcome an unlucky damage suffered early throughout her senior season. 

“We’re pleased with the event Rae made throughout her time at Tennessee and stay up for watching her proceed to blossom in her skilled profession.”

That blossoming skilled profession took a success in Could when she suffered a knee damage after taking part in simply three video games for the Sparks, ruling her out for the remainder of the WNBA season.

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She underwent surgical procedure in Could and is able to make her return to the court docket in Canberra.

“I’m tremendous excited,” mentioned Burrell. “I haven’t performed in a few months, so I’m excited to get again on the court docket and try to compete for a championship.

“I’ll be again and prepared by the point I get out to Australia. It’s feeling good, thank goodness, as a result of it wasn’t for a minute earlier than I received surgical procedure, so I’m simply blissful that it’s feeling good once more.”

Burrell will convey a lot to the Capitals’ squad regardless of the damage in her senior yr at Tennessee, and this setback early in her WNBA profession, which have been each to the identical knee. Lacking recreation time in her first yr as knowledgeable has her hungry to get out and win in Canberra.

“I by no means received it fastened or something, I simply rehabbed and got here again. I lastly received it fastened once I went to the WNBA,” mentioned Burrell.

“It was exhausting not taking part in however a minimum of I received a really feel for what the league was like, and I received to sit down again and watch and see how every little thing was executed and have an thought for once I come again subsequent yr.”

Figuring out what she has been by already this yr, Burrell is optimistic about how she will return from the damage.

“I simply need to get again to how I used to be earlier than, once I was 100 per cent wholesome, after which get even higher,” mentioned Burrell.

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“I’ll work on getting stronger as a result of the league is towards grown girls, so I’ve received to ensure I can maintain my very own when I’m on the market. “And, truthfully, I simply need to win. I really like profitable so I need to win video games and win a championship.”

The transfer to Canberra throughout the WNBA offseason is one which works nicely for Burrell, who all the time needed to play overseas even after signing with the Sparks.

Seeing the success of one of many Capitals’ earlier imports, Brittney Sykes, made the ACT a beautiful possibility for Burrell.

Sykes was named the WNBL’s 2021-22 Robyn Maher Defensive Participant of the 12 months final season. 

“I knew I needed to go abroad, and my company picked the place they thought the most suitable choice can be for me coming off my damage,” mentioned Burrell.

“They talked about Australia and I noticed that Sykes was there, so I’m really going to hang around together with her and choose her mind just a little bit. It simply form of occurred, and it occurred completely as a result of I’m able to get again to taking part in.”

Burrell’s signing is a giant coup for first-year head coach Kristen Veal, who is happy to see what the WNBA rookie can convey to the WNBL.

“We consider Rae will complement the Caps line-up this season and eat up each alternative to win basketball video games,” Veal mentioned.

“Rae brings versatility, rating energy and a aggressive focus that can see her win followers on and off the court docket. I’m wanting ahead to watching Rae discover her rhythm with our thrilling roster and displaying the remainder of the league, and the world that she is a drive to be reckoned with.”

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Ian Meikle, editor