The Roar
The Roar


The dream, the sacrifice: How hard it is to chase an NBL career

Illawarra Hawks Coach Rob Beveridge has the absolute belief of his playing group. (Illawarra Hawks)
9th December, 2016

Sacrifices are part of the life of any professional sporting athlete or coach.

For Anthony Petrie of the Brisbane Bullets and Rob Beveridge of the Illawarra Hawks, having to move away from their family has been the most difficult aspect of their careers.

The Bullets and Hawks do battle for the first time this NBL season on Saturday night when they clash in Brisbane.

That will see Bullets veteran Petrie and Hawks coach Beveridge again leading their respective teams into battle with their families nowhere in sight.

Being forced to be away from their wife and children has caused plenty of heartache for both.

But it only goes to show the sacrifices required for NBL players and coaches at times. It happens in all sports and it’s nothing new or unique to basketball or the NBL, but it’s a story worth telling.

Petrie spent the past four seasons in Adelaide with the 36ers where his wife Sarah, and their three young daughters Jess, Emma and Holly all made their home.

When the Bullets returned to the NBL for the 2016-17 season, Petrie was quick to sign wanting to be closer to his parents and brothers, and their families again in Tenterfield, northern NSW.


However, given it was halfway through the year and with his wife working as a teacher, it wasn’t fair on her or their daughters to move until the school year was finished.

That meant that Petrie, who lives for his wife and three daughters with a fourth child on the way, had to move to Brisbane without them. While he was excited to join the Bullets having initially signed with the club eight years ago, the time away from his family has been tough.

That’s why when he returned to Adelaide, it meant the world to him to spend time with them again for the first time in six weeks and now he can’t wait until later this month when they are reunited in Brisbane.

“It was good to get back especially because my wife and kids have stayed down there until the end of the school year. It was just good to get in on the Friday night and go watch my kids to little athletics, and have dinner with them and watch them play basketball Saturday morning,” Petrie said.

“It has been difficult because they are my greatest love. It’s been hard on me but my wife is almost due with our fourth child and is working still as a teacher, and getting the kids around everywhere.

“She deadest is a superhero, she should have a cape for sure. I feel very blessed to have great in-laws and my parents, and close friends who have all helped.

“But it has been difficult even though we’re lucky to have Facetime, Skype and everything even though you can’t give them a cuddle, hug or a kiss. I feel bad sometimes how much of a sacrifice they have made to keep letting me chase an orange ball around, but I’m thankful that’s for sure.”


As for Beveridge, following a traumatic experience with the defunct Sydney Spirit in the 2008-09 season, he and his family – wife Suellen, sons Jaydon and Noah, and daughter Annie – made the move to Perth when he was appointed coach of the Wildcats.

Immediately Beveridge enjoyed tremendous success coaching the ‘Cats to a championship in 2010 and then making the semi finals the next season, and grand final the next two only to come up short against the New Zealand Breakers on each occasion.

The entire Beveridge family grew to love Perth and there was every reason to think they would remain living there for the foreseeable future, perhaps forever.

Life in professional sport often throws up obstacles, though, and when Beveridge stood down as Wildcats coach in 2013, the future was unknown.

Initially he took up a role in China with the Shanghai Sharks, which was difficult, and he decided to remain home. He began his own private coaching business and that was going well, but after being a professional coach and having such tremendous success, that fire still burned.

It wasn’t going to happen in Perth, though, and the family made the decision that no matter what, Suellen and the three kids would be staying put until eldest son Jaydon graduated from high school this year.

Beveridge accepted the position as coach of the Hawks for 2015-16 and it turned out a success on the floor with Kirk Penney, Kevin Lisch and AJ Ogilvy signing on.


Beveridge took the Hawks to the playoffs and if not for a Lisch ankle injury, they could have gone further than the semi finals.

While the coaching worked well, living on the other side of the country wasn’t easy. But Beveridge is one of, if not the best, coaches in the country and the NBL is better off with him part of it.

Illawarra knew that and offered him a four-year contract extension which gave Beveridge some stability knowing that his family could make the move to join him in Wollongong.

But not before Jaydon finished high school and Suellen finished up the year at her school where she is a principal.

Beveridge led his Hawks to a first win in Perth since 2005 back on November 27 to end a 25-game losing run in the city. That provided the perfect send off to his and his family’s time in Perth.

Afterwards, they held a farewell gathering at their house and it provided the perfect sense of closure on that chapter.

“It was closure. I stayed back on the Monday and everything I did I knew it was the last time. It was the last time sleeping in this bed, last time swimming in the pool and the last time we were sitting out in our outdoor entertainment area with friends. It was quite emotional and sad,” Beveridge said.


“Then when I left for the airport it hit me, that I will never go back to that house. It also hit me that we were leaving our best friends the McPharlin family. To move away from our best friends in the world, it’s very hard.

“I got to the airport and nearly missed the plane, and I thought it might have been karma telling me to stay. But to spend that one last afternoon with my family and close friends was a fitting farewell on top of the win we had.”

The whole Beveridge family will soon be reunited and starting their new lives in Wollongong. But Beveridge can’t deny how tough it’s been and how thankful he is to his family for their sacrifices.

“It’s light at the end of the tunnel now. You look at the sacrifices and commitment that the family has made to let me move away from them, but now I can actually share my new world with them that I’ve built here in Wollongong,” Beveridge said.

“Family is so incredibly important because when I was with Sydney Spirit when they folded, it was amazing that when things go bad, the family is there for you. You come across a lot of false people in this profession but you know you can rely on your family no matter what.

“It has been a great learning experience for me that the family are the ones who you will be with you and your closest friends, so they are the ones who matter the most in my life. That’s why it was so important for me to go to my son’s graduation.

“You have to make sacrifices for each other and my family has done more for me than I have for them, and I owe them so much. I’m now committed to Illawarra and building something special here and I believe we are on the right track. I want to leave a legacy here like I did at Perth.”


New Zealand Breakers 82 beat Brisbane Bullets 75 – Vector Arena

Cairns Taipans 78 lost to Sydney Kings 86 – Cairns Convention Centre
Perth Wildcats 92 beat Melbourne United 89 – Perth Arena

Adelaide 36ers v New Zealand Breakers – Titanium Security Arena, 5.30pm
Brisbane Bullets v Illawarra Hawks – Brisbane Convention Centre 7.30pm

Sydney Kings v Melbourne United – Qudos Bank Arena, 3pm

Cairns Taipans v Adelaide 36ers – Cairns Convention Centre 7.30pm