Birthday girl looking for QBL present
ENERGETIC Ipswich Force recruit Rachel Mate is studying psychology with an option to join the police force.
But as the birthday girl considers her future while learning at the University of Queensland, she is already making an impact on the court.
The Force newcomer looked like she had been in the Ipswich team for a number of years when she scored 24 points in last weekend's 97-43 win over Toowoomba.
"That was by far my best performance in QBL (Queensland Basketball League),'' Mate said. "I was stoked with that.''
Celebrating her 18th birthday today, Mate accepted the Force opportunity after a rookie QBL season with Brisbane last year.
The Queensland under-20 captain said playing for Ipswich offered plenty of appeal at this stage of her career, working with head coach Brad George and national league player Bree Farley.
"They said they were interested in playing an up-tempo game and that's a style that really suits me,'' Mate said.
"Before I was a part of the QBL system, I remember seeing Bree play and I've always thought she was great.
"It feels like an honour to be playing with her.''
Preparing for Saturday's game against Gold Coast at Ipswich stadium, Mate said she felt comfortable suiting up a first time for Ipswich last weekend.
"I get a lot of confidence from Brad and Bree,'' she said.
"The way I play is the way they want me to play. I feel I can be myself at basketball.
"I'm really enjoying it.''
An added advantage of joining Ipswich was continuing her partnership with former Brisbane teammate Ashton Eaton and previous Met West school teammates like Kate Head and Cassie Poulain.
Mate shared in Met West's runner-up effort at the 2015 state school titles before she joined the QBL program.
Farley was pleased to see Mate make such a valuable contribution last Saturday night at Ipswich stadium.
"She's got a lot of energy,'' Farley said. "She's a really good addition to the team.''
Although Farley and co-captain Marney George are the only senior players back from last season, Farley trusts coach George's judgment in securing promising players like Mate.
"Only having two players from last year in this group is a bit of a daunting thing,'' she said.
"But I think Brad's done a great job of recruiting and getting girls in. He's a good coach so he attracts good players.''
George has guided Force to finals in each of his five previous years as coach.
Farley was also encouraged by Iris Cubit and other younger players like Head and Poulain in last Saturday night's comfortable win over Toowoomba.
"It's so good to see our juniors stepping up,'' Farley said. "Especially in games like this where they get to have their experience.''
Seeing Mate so excited about playing for Ipswich this season reinforces the positive development work going on at Force.