15 September 2023

UC Capitals coach Kristen Veal ready to build on a year of personal discovery and improvement

| Tim Gavel
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Kristen Veal at the UC Capitals’ season 2022/2023 launch. Photo: Liv Cameron.

As a three-time WNBL champion player, Kristin Veal is accustomed to success. It’s in her DNA, first as a player and now as a coach, which is why the 2022/23 WNBL season was so challenging for Kristen, both professionally and personally.

In her first year as a head coach in the WNBL, she didn’t expect to end the season with two wins and 19 losses, but she has emerged stronger and determined to learn from the lessons of last season.

“It was one of those seasons when you know you are growing and learning, and you are getting better from the experience,” says Kristen.

“Coming from a junior coaching space for the previous eight years into the WNBL was a learning curve. There were some habits learned that were a little more towards juniors than professionals, so adjusting some of those game tactics and decisions and the way we managed players off the court was important. It was definitely a year of discovery and improvement for me.”

Among the challenges were injuries to key players, which is pretty much par for the course in professional sport.

Kristen Veal holding a basketball

Kristen Veal has an illustrious history in the capital. Photo: UC Capitals.

But what the UC Capitals developed at the back end of the season was a spirit that provided Kristen with enough of an indication that what she was doing was working.

“I definitely doubted myself but I’m not a quitter. While there’s high doubt and vulnerability, I’ll always be accountable for my mistakes. My drive is to problem-solve and that’s part of the reason why we continued to get better and we had greater success at the end of the season than at the start.”

And this is why she is confident of a stronger launching pad into the first game against Adelaide on 5 November.

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She says, “Probably one of the biggest things to take out of last season was to simplify the pre-season: let’s discover who we are, pick some things that suit us, start simple and then you can add as you go; the way we communicate and the way we manage bodies and do our best to avoid unfortunate injuries. It’s come through how we have recruited and how we have put our performance team together.”

But there are also personnel changes to consider.

basketball coach with players all around her

Kristen Veal in her coaching role during the 2022/23 season. Photo: UC Capitals Facebook.

“Even though it’s year two for me, we have a number of players coming back. I think we have seven returning and five or six so far that are new and in any year that’s a new team. But we have key players returning to steer the ship and continue with what we discovered last season and add some really key pieces to complement that and drive it in an upward direction.”

The UC Capitals’ style of play towards the back end of the season was very much a reflection of Kristen’s coaching. And she is thinking deeply about the season ahead and putting in place all that she has learned from the season just gone.

We are witnessing the making of a great coach.

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