University of Canberra Capitals championship winner Muffi Loader began to lose her passion for basketball when Covid-19 hit.
Now after some fun-filled junior coaching and signing with the club where her basketball journey began, the Central Coast Crusaders star is fully loaded for NBL1 East.
When COVID-19 hit and changed the world as we know it, promising Central Coast basketball player Elizajane ‘Muffi’ Loader began to lose her passion for the sport.
After going to a college that didn’t quite fit and not returning to the Canberra Capitals after winning a championship with them, Loader turned to coaching to reignite her love of the game.
“When you coach, you coach in a way that you would coach your younger self,” Loader says.
“The way I was speaking about the game, I thought to myself: ‘You obviously still love it.’
“I think I just needed a reminder of why I love it, and that’s to inspire.”
As a young Development Player with the Capitals, Loader was inspired by superstars like Kia Nurse, Kelsey Griffin and Kelly Wilson.
Not only does she model her game on those players, but also the way she goes about life.
Upon reflection on her experience at the Caps, Loader “wouldn’t trade it for the world”.
“When you go down there, you think: ‘How can I contribute to the team? How can I make myself valuable?’
“I just did everything I could. I still talk to ‘Gorry’ (coach Paul Goriss) and the Caps girls.
“I think if COVID hadn’t happened, I honestly would have kept going.
“It’s honestly one of those things, it just didn’t work out in the end.”
Now with a refreshed mind and playing NBL1 East for the Central Coast Crusaders – where her career began – Loader admits a return to the WNBL is still on her mind.
“I want to give myself the best chance that if [returning to the WNBL] is something I want to do, the option will be there,” she says.
“I just want to make sure I do everything right, looking after my body, keeping a good headspace and then performing.”
Loader’s Crusaders are a young team but in her words, “with youth comes passion and competitiveness”.
It’s why she believes Central Coast could be potential underdogs in the inaugural season.
Coupled with newfound national exposure, Loader is itching to get on the court for the first time as an NBL1 East player.
“I think [NBL1 East] is finally going to give the exposure to eastern basketball that’s been missing for a while,” she says.
“Having people like Lauren Jackson and Lauren Nicholson and other homegrown players, it’s just going to get people’s attention on this league.
“It’s going to showcase the talent of people that are in this league.”
On the court, Loader is a hard worker, training five times per week with the Crusaders and her University Basketball League (UBL) team, University of Sydney, at the moment.
She’s also in the gym every day, which is no surprise given she trained this way at college and WNBL levels.
But above all, Loader credits her basketball success to the sacrifice and dedication to her family and the community around her.
“The [WNBL] championship was great because I got to look up to my family and say: ‘Your sacrifice paid off and everything you’ve done for me has been worth it’,” she says.
“It hasn’t just been a solo journey for me, it’s been a whole team thing.
“It was cool to see it all come full circle.”
Loader has certainly come a long way since she was given the nickname, ‘Muffi’, which she can thank her Nan for.
“Nan made [the nickname] up for me when I was about one because I was that kid who never brushed their hair and was always eating something,” she says.
The Central Coast Crusaders tip-off their inaugural NBL1 East campaign at home against Manly on Saturday April 2.
Muffi Loader’s journey to NBL1 East wouldn’t be possible without the support of her loyal sponsors:
It all tips off on Saturday