In pursuing a basketball career as a teenager, Linda Muir had many obstacles placed in her way before achieving success.
It is the inner strength developed through these formative years, coupled with 10 years in the WNBL, that has helped Linda map out her own life and influence those in her orbit.
The daughter of two Australia Post workers, Linda grew up in Melbourne and quickly came to the realisation that if she was going to make it in basketball there would be no shortcuts.
“I had no transport,” remembers Linda, “My mum didn’t have a drivers licence. My first basketball coach used to give me a lift, then when I was playing representative basketball, I would walk to the train station, catch a train, then a tram, before walking another 20 minutes to training. Then I did it all over again to go home if I couldn’t get a lift.” Linda did this three times a week.
It would have been so easy to give up but such was her determination she used it to her advantage. It built a toughness that would hold her in good stead for the rest of her life.
“That’s been my mantra. I’ll never say no to kids seeking a lift to sport because I was afforded that opportunity by my first coach. I’ve tried to instil that resilience into my three sons as well.”
At 18, Linda was awarded a scholarship at the AIS. She spent two years with the institute playing in the WNBL before joining the Capitals.
Linda retired from the WNBL at 27 years of age having played 209 games in a 10-year career that included four seasons as captain of the Capitals.
During her time at the Capitals Linda was coached by the formidable Jerry Lee.
“If you play in a team coached by Jerry Lee, it definitely builds your resilience,” says Linda.
She was able to draw strength from her experiences in basketball later in life when her family home was identified as being in a Mr Fluffy house that would need to be knocked down.
“Absolutely I drew on those experiences in basketball. As an affected homeowner I took a pro-active approach.”
With husband Ian and her three sons in the decision-making process, they decided to rebuild in another suburb in Canberra. Linda says she guided her sons through the grieving process of losing the family home by encouraging them to make a list of things they would like to see in their new home.
“They put down things like a swimming pool and a BMX track,” Linda recalls.
“It was a tough time. We had to look after each other, so I developed strategies for our family.”
Her strategic influence though hasn’t been confined to her family.
During her playing days with the Capitals, Linda also played first division for a club side, which eventually became known as it is today, the Ginninderra Rats.
Now one of the biggest basketball clubs in the ACT, the Rats boast 50 teams, from under 10s through to seniors.
Linda’s influence on the club has been enormous. At 55 years of age she is now in her second stint as president, having filled many roles at the Rats including coaching director.
“From a community aspect we have strong values of inclusion and respect,” says Linda.
“This is not just through our website but it was important to buy into it as a club. When it came to our playing uniform we went for a complete makeover. We wanted to have our uniform acknowledge our traditional owners year round, not just in NAIDOC Week. The uniform was designed by an Indigenous artist Shaenice Allen, who was at one time in her life, a junior player at our club.”
As Linda speaks about this issue, her determination to make a difference shines through.
“We are doing this for our club, but at the same time we would like it to permeate through all basketball activities in the ACT, including the match day environment.”
Personally, Linda says she is also striving to make participating in sport right across Australia accessible for all in her role as executive manager at Sport Australia where her impact on the wider sporting community is evident.
And as if her life isn’t already packed with activity, she is close to completing her MBA.
The positive influence she has on sport in the ACT is reflected in the values established at the Ginninderra Rats and basketball in the ACT. These are the same values she established early in life and is now passing on to the next generation.