Transplanted Aussie mentors basketball youth in Carmel
Both growing up in Australia and during a professional basketball career in the United States, Tully Bevilaqua embraced variety.
She played every sport under the sun as a youth, and migrated to the city from parts much more rural after finishing school. On this side of the pond, the theme continued: Stops in five American cities for tenures between one and five seasons, over 14 years, cemented the idea of variance.
Ostensibly, she could have landed anywhere after the journey had concluded. She chose Indiana.
“There are lots of great people here,” she said. “Indiana has a bit of a country feel about it. It’s not like New York or Seattle – which is one of my favorite cities. I’m better with a city with a slower pace about it.”
Those words emanated from a couch situated in Gym 41, Bevilaqua’s fitness business on Indianapolis’ northwest side, but two-thirds of her focus now resides in Carmel. It is here she is conducting a youth basketball clinic at the Monon Community Center, as well as coaching a fifth grade girls team in the Carmel Lady Pups league.
The clinic is one among a list of several she’s been involved with, but the coaching venture is her first.
“I was extremely nervous coming into the Pups coaching,” Bevilaqua said. “I’ve had to remind myself what I was like at that age, and the amount of information you can process. It’s been great, and a learning process for myself and all involved.”
Sideline learning curve aside, the six-year Indiana Fever guard certainly has a lot to impart on her charges. She won a WNBA championship in 2004 with the Seattle Storm, and helped lead the Australian national team to silver medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympic games, as well as a gold in the 2006 Brazil basketball World Championships.
Her WNBA career, by Bevilaqua’s own admission, lasted longer and started later than anticipated.
“I don’t take anything for granted,” she said. “It was a lot longer than I anticipated. Playing in NBA arenas all across the country and playing with and against some of the best athletes in the world was a dream come true. I matured later as a player – they say good things come to those who wait. They did, for me.”
Joe Woodward, Carmel Lady Pups commissioner, sees the benefit of both Bevilaqua’s name recognition and her basketball knowledge.
“We’re very fortunate to have her in our program and we’ll benefit greatly from her expertise,” he said. “Having her is going to do wonders for Carmel alone, but also for the overall aspect of girls basketball to realize that WNBA players come back and give to the community. She is a volunteer, so it’s nice to see that she’s willing to give back. It’s a good thing for all parties involved.”
The step to coaching, something Bevilaqua said doing at a high level is her ultimate goal, was a natural step following the success of her previous camps as well as the Monon clinics. Sessions there, which are coed and cater to all ability levels, currently are ongoing.
“It’s a great facility there,” she said of the Monon Community Center. “I contacted them and made a proposal, got positive feedback about it and we created a partnership. It’s gone very well and I’ve had good response so far. Hopefully we can build on that.”
“Having Tully offer basketball development programs at the Monon Community Center is really beneficial for the youth in our community,” said Lindsay Leber, youth supervisor for the facility. “Tully and her team are very professional and great to work with and I know that what they say they are going to provide will be done at an exceptional level. These programs are going to make a difference in the participants’ lives and that is what we strive for at the MCC.”
Aside from the many hours spent on the coaching and clinic objectives, you can find Bevilaqua running Gym 41, which has now been open for a little more than a year. There, she mentors people ranging in age from 14 to 65 in a variety of exercises, and also provides training facilities for the Pike Township Fire Department.
Still, it’s basketball that is in the forefront.
“Between (basketball interests) and the gym, my life is probably more busy than it’s ever been,” she said. “My love for basketball came as a small child, and it’s opened doors for me. I love working with the kids and helping them in any way, because I’ve had that support throughout my whole career. It’s just a natural process now for me to give that back.”
More about Tully’s travels
Cleveland Rockers 1998
Portland Fire 2000-2002
Seattle Storm 2003-2004
Indiana Fever 2005-2010
San Antonio Silver Stars 2011-2012
Monon Community Center