The 2021-2022 WNBL season is not one that the UC Capitals will soon forget. From COVID-19 restrictions to on-court injury, the UC Caps have experienced it all. Following a sponsorship of the 20-21 season, SportsCare teamed up with the UC Caps throughout the season past to provide Physiotherapy services and management, allowing our staff to support local elite sport both courtside and in-clinic.
We talked to SportsCare Physiotherapist Robert Taylor about his experience working with the team in the 2021-2022 season.
A WNBL Season in the times of COVID-19
The UC Capitals were no stranger to COVID-19-related incidents within the past season, with team exposures, several game reschedules, and increasing restrictions ultimately leading to the team opting out of the semi-finals to prioritise player welfare.
Rob remembered his time within the season saying, “It was possibly the most interesting period I have ever worked in elite sport. Certainly the most disruptive and the most schedule changes I have ever experienced.”
Rob refers to the 40 (or so) schedule changes that occurred throughout the season, with the UC Caps team often having to skip games due to opposition teams contracting COVID-19 and being unable to play.
The restrictions tested everybody, from the athletes to support staff, with limited accessibility to unwind and participate in the usual recreational activities seen when travelling around Australia to games.
“It’s not so much for us as the support staff, but for the girls it took a toll because they couldn’t relax and do what they would normally do to mentally prepare for games,” Rob said.
Learning from the UC Caps
Despite having extensive experience as a Physiotherapist for elite sporting teams, this was the first time Rob had worked in basketball. He was able to bring prior experience working with jumping sports like volleyball and gymnastics, but reflecting on the importance of understanding the sport you are working with, he said, “It was extremely valuable to learn how the game of basketball works and what the players go through for direct management and preventative measures”.
Throughout his season with the Caps, Rob observed the extent that external influences can impact a season, especially in the realm of women’s sport.
Despite the challenges throughout the season, the Caps’ did not lose their team spirit and the home crowd’s enthusiasm did not diminish. Rob recalls the culture of the UC Capitals through his experience with the team, saying:
“It was probably the most harmonious team I have ever been a part of across any sport. It was a surprisingly calm group of people to work with, considering the uncertainty throughout the season and impact on the players.”
All the players are talented, professional athletes and there are a few big personalities. Brittney Sykes (known as Slim), who was named WNBL’s 2021-22 Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year, comes to mind for Rob.
“She didn’t pull her punches, that’s for sure. She tells you exactly what is on her mind and it’s a pretty funny mind at times. Slim also brought a lot of energy and passion to the team, which was great to work with and observe in the team,” Rob said.
The Caps farewelled Head Coach Paul Gorris after six successful seasons with the team at the wrap-up of the 21-22 season. Gorry moved to the United States for an Assistant Coach role with the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA. His team are currently in the top half of the ladder, and we wish him the best of luck!