11 years since her Big V debut, Ellen Kett’s maturity has developed alongside every skill and basketball maneuver.
Number one for assists in the league’s Championship Women’s division, it’s hard to believe basketball was never Kett’s ideal career.
“Basketball to me was always a vessel to take me places and give me life experiences,
“I never viewed basketball as a career because I always felt that there was more to me than being a basketball player. Nothing against people who make a living playing basketball, but I wanted more.”
Now in her twenties, the role of basketball has fulfilled Kett’s intended purpose.
Basketball was a family affair for the Kett family. With three siblings involved in the sport, Ellen was the missing piece of her family’s pack.
“My older brother started playing basketball and so my two brothers, my sister and I would often play in the backyard. Eventually I joined a team myself and never looked back.”
Initially playing for a small team in the Keilor region called St Christopher’s, Kett spent her junior representative days playing for the Melbourne Tigers.
“We were a very tight core group of kids who enjoyed a lot of success and to this day I am still great friends with many of them.”
Over the years, Kett’s talents began to be recognised at several elite levels. She earnt positions in the Under-16, Under-18 and Under-20 Victorian Metro teams before going on to represent Australia with the Under-19 Gems squad.
While her expertise as a guard were unquestionable, Kett’s ability to assist made her standout among the rest. Her release of the ball to players in a position to score was like that of a magnetic force.
When the opportunity was presented to take basketball internationally and play at an NCAA Division II school 20 minutes from the heart of Vancouver, Canada, you’d think Kett would have felt elated.
This was not the case.
Reservation was all Kett could associate with the offer to study at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.
“An old coach put my name forward to the university and they reached out,” Kett explained. “I was hesitant as I wanted to go to a Division I school. My mum on the other hand thought this was the perfect fit,
“The education was of high standard, and it was in a major city in Canada with plenty to do.”
Kett decided to trust her mother and commit five years to study at Simon Fraser University.
To this day, she holds it as the best decision she’s ever made.
“Those five years I spent in Canada were the best five years of my life,” Kett said.
“I experienced the highest of highs and many lows. Moving across the world alone at 19 really opened my eyes. It taught me independence and resilience and most importantly got me out of my comfort zone.
“A lot of people in Australia tend to screw their noses up when you mention Division II, but the quality of basketball is very high. What people fail to understand is the teams at the high end of Division II are better than many in Division I.”
During the Canadian summer when school was out, Kett would return home and play Big V for Melbourne Tigers. After her final year at college, she made the decision to play for Geelong in SEABL and, to her surprise, won the championship.
She stayed with Geelong for one year after the victory, but the commute from Essendon was too taxing.
“I stayed there for an extra year, but then the driving became tedious, so I chose to move closer to home.
“That’s when I moved to play at Keilor – the place where my basketball journey started.”
Now a veteran with the Thunder, Kett still averages 8.2 assists a game, setting the benchmark for her competition. Her team sit with six wins and four losses, holding onto fifth place on the ladder.
“Keilor is very family orientated. They really do care for you and listen to what you have to say.
“We’re all learning how to play with each other and stay competitive in a different way than usual,
“It’s a different feel this year with some teams having imports and some without. We’re just making the best of the opportunity to play some basketball after a long time without it.”
While a 2021 Big V championship would look nice next to Kett’s NCAA accomplishments as an All-American honourable mention and lead assister per game in her senior year, her contentment from basketball doesn’t come in the form of trophies or numbers.
“What has kept me around is the people,” Kett expressed. “For me, basketball is about the friendships you make along the way.
“I was fortunate enough to travel most of the pacific northwest through my university experience. My coach, Langford really emphasised life experiences, so when we were near anything remotely interesting, fun or different, you can be sure we went,
“Whether it be The North Pole in Alaska at -40 degrees or driving at midnight to try find the northern lights or stopping on a highway to watch a fully grown moose pass, I got to do it all, and I got to do it all with friends that I will have for a lifetime. “
When Kett’s time in the Big V will end is still an unknown. What her next step is... let’s just say she’ll never stop assisting.
“I am a Registered Nurse and really enjoy this. It is the most challenging thing I have done, but the most enriching,
“To be able to help people every day during their most vulnerable time is rewarding. I do hope to get back and do my post grad at some point, but perhaps not until I finish up with basketball.”
Ellen Kett had to answer these five questions as fast as he could. How did she go?
Go to post match snack? McDonald’s
Current song on repeat? Back to December – Taylor Swift
Best dad joke? What’s Forrest Gump’s password? … 1forrest1
Netflix choice? The American BBQ Showdown
Nothing is better than... sour cream