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Keely slam dunks her way to a win

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When University of Canberra Capitals star Keely Froling says she comes from “a basketball family,” she isn’t kidding.

Mum Jenny won four WNBL championships, while dad Shane spent almost two decades in the NBL and donned the green and gold uniform for Australia.

And brothers and NBL stars Harry and Sam play for the Adelaide 36ers and the Illawarra Hawks respectively, while sister Alicia just graduated from college in America where she played at college level, and currently plays for Queensland league QBL for Townsville.

But the #21 jersey wearer only started playing when she was nine-years-old, resisting for as long as she could.

“But I’m pretty tall so everyone was like, ‘Oh you should play’, so I just got into it that way,” she says, laughing.

And eventually, she came to see the benefits of growing up in a family big on basketball.

Her parents were her first coaches, even if there was a healthy dose of sibling rivalry and it did get pretty competitive and rough at times.

“There were lots of bloody knees and toes because we used to play bare feet until mum banned it and made us wear shoes,” Keely says.

Keely is one of 30 local sporting legends who have been nominated in the Canberra Milk People’s Sporting Champion public vote.

Voting for the Canberra Milk People’s Sporting Champion is open until the end of this month, and by voting for your favourite sporting champion, you can also nominate your favourite school or sports club to go in the draw to win $5000 worth of sporting equipment.

The Canberra Milk People’s Sporting Champion is part of the CBR Sport Awards which celebrate Canberra’s top athletes and teams, and also recognise the coaches, referees, judges, mentors, and sports trainers who work behind the scenes.

The 23-year-old moved from Townsville to Canberra when she was 17 to train at the AIS Basketball Australia Centre for Excellence.

After two years, she jetted to Texas to play basketball at Southern Methodist University at college competition level.

She was supposed to stay four years, but called it quits after two years due to knee injuries. After returning to Australia, she was snapped up by the WNBL and signed with the Capitals for the 2016/2017 season.

“It was definitely the best decision I’ve made, because I don’t think I would have come as far as I have in those few years if I had stayed over there,” she says.

The 187cm forward says her game has improved through working with strength and conditioning coach Nick Ball.

“I had a lot of knee injuries when I was younger, so just to improve my leg strength, that then translates to my game so I can get to the ring better,” she says.

She’s also improved her shooting game with Capitals coach Paul Goriss.

“So those are the biggest areas I’ve improved on is just strength and shooting, and as a forward, I enjoy swinging between the guard and the big,” she says.

“I do love rebounding, but for me, it’s an all-round position—you have to be able to defend a little bit, and you have to be able to get to the ring.”

She loves the support of the Capitals fans, especially since the basketball team has moved to the National Convention Centre.

“We’re coming into our second season there, and the atmosphere is awesome there, it’s great to have our fans so close,” Keely says.

“And then we play our big games at the AIS arena and that’s an awesome place to play as well when you pack that out.

“I just really enjoy the fans being there, and being so involved with us. I think that’s something that’s special with basketball is that there is so much fan interaction.

“Like after the game they can come down onto the court and say hello, get an autograph, which is really special, especially for some of the young fans.”

The third-year physiotherapy student has called Canberra home for the last three years.

“One thing I don’t enjoy is the cold,” she admits. “But it’s just a nice place to live, not too big a city, but it still has all the things that you need.

“There’s a lot of things to see and do, and I have a lot of friends [through basketball].”

Even so, she misses her family in Townsville.

“We play up there usually twice a year when I can get up there and play, but they always come for finals, so we just have to make finals for them to come down,” she says with a laugh.

Based on the Capitals’ championship win this past season, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Vote for your favourite local sporting champion at: outincanberra.com.au/cbrsportsawards/vote-now

CBR Sport Awards wishes to acknowledge Canberra Milk, who have generously supported the People’s Sporting Champion since its inception in 2016 and, through this, many of Canberra’s sportspeople have been given the opportunity to be recognised by Canberra’s passionate sporting community.

Canberra Milk has contributed, annually, $5,000 worth of sporting equipment to lucky sporting clubs and schools as part of the People’s Sporting Champion.

The CBR Sport Awards will be held on Friday 29 November at the National Arboretum. Tickets on sale from 30 August.

Visit cbrsportawards.com.au for information on the Awards Night, selection process for the category awards as well as past winners and finalists.

Nominations for the CBR Sport category awards will be open in early September. Sporting clubs and organisations will be invited to put forward their nominations for a variety of awards including Athlete of the Year, Rising Star, Team of the Year and Outstanding Service to Sport.

The Minister for Sport and Recreation will also present awards for Event Excellence, Innovation and Inclusion.

This is a sponsored editorial. For more information on sponsored editorials, click here

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