Female Athlete Podcast, Episode with Deanne and Rachel transcript

Finding the balance, with basketball icons Deanne Butler and Rachel Jarry.

The Female Athlete Podcast, Episode: Finding the balance, with basketball icons Deanne Butler and Rachel Jarry.

Introduction: Chloe Dalton 

This episode is brought to you by Victoria Police. Are you made for more? Search police careers to find out. 

Chloe Dalton

This week on the podcast, we’ve got double trouble. We’ve got two incredible basketballers who are real trail blazers in the women’s basketball space.

Firstly, Rachel Jarry, graced the WNBL for over a decade, claiming championships with the Bulleen Boomers, and Southside Flyers. She was a WNBA champion with the Minnesota Lynx in 2013. She also represented Australia at the London and Rio Olympics, earning bronze medals. 

Amidst a stellar career, she joined the Victoria Police Academy in 2019, and she still working there currently on secondment with a Detective unit. 

Deanne Butler is absolutely incredible, she made history with the first WNBL championship winning AIS team and went on to a stellar 13 year WNBL career.

Her impact is undeniable, she played 251 games in her life, earning Life Membership. She balanced full time shift work at Victoria Police with a thriving basketball career. She represented the opals in 2005, the China tours and the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. 

Post-retirement she ventured into coaching and achieving success in various leagues, and even securing a FIBA Scout role at the Tokyo Olympics and the Women’s World Cup in Sydney.

These two are absolutely incredible athletes and people. As a former basketballer myself, I loved the change to sit down and chat with them both.

I hope you enjoy it. 

Chloe Dalton

Dee and Rach, welcome to the Female Athlete Project. 

Deanne Butler and Rachel Jarry

Thanks for having us. 

Chloe Dalton

They're in sync already. We've only just started and they're already in sync. This is going to be a fun chat. I'm really, really looking forward to having a chat to you both today. Both have had similar careers across basketball and now the police, but very different journeys to get to where you are. 

Rach, we might start with you. Can you tell us a little bit about you as a little kid and how you found a love for basketball? 

Rachel Jarry

Yeah, sure. I guess I was always a tall kid. So my mum who played a little bit of basketball when she was younger as well, decided that basketball would be good for me and got me into it, got me interested and yeah, she started a whole domestic club when I was in grade five, I mean sorry, in prep when I was five or six, just so I could start playing. 

So I fondly remember playing under eights with there was two boys on our team and they would only pass the ball to each other. So I learned to play defence from a very young age. So yeah, just progressed through there. Yeah. Into my teenage years where I started kind of taking it a little bit more seriously. 

Chloe Dalton

What, can you go more into detail about what, how your mum started that so that you could have a chance to play? 

Rachel Jarry

Yeah. Well, just the area that I lived in, we didn't have like a local domestic club.

So mum just approached my primary school and asked if she could start a club using their name made out of there. And they said yes. So we had like the first under eight team. And I think this year, I think I was invited to the 25 year celebration for that club, which is now one of the really strongest domestic clubs in the inner west. So it's pretty special. Yeah. To have your mum like start that for you it's pretty awesome.

Chloe Dalton

That's really cool and when was it from there that you kind of worked out that you might have a real crack at basketball? 

Rachel Jarry

Yeah as I got older I joined Altona for rep basketball a lot of long Friday nights out in the car out all over Victoria and then when I was 14 made my first State team for Vic Metro and but have made State teams from there. 

Never lost a game at Nationals, so Vic Metro. 

Chloe Dalton

Oh, Vic Metro. I hated playing Vic Metro. 

Rachel Jarry

I still like to say that all the time, but yeah, everyone hates Vic Metro. I had a very good team, I'm not going to lie, but yeah, we didn't lose a game. 

Chloe Dalton

So your whole career through National Champs, you never lost a game as Vic Metro? 

Rachel Jarry

Yeah, never. Never. 

Chloe Dalton

Oh, must be nice. 

Rachel Jarry

Yeah. We had a couple of overtime games but still, we never lost. And yeah, I guess from there I was chosen to go up to the Institute of Sport, got a scholarship up there, did year 11 and 12 at Lake G College, which a lot of girls have gone through there and know the drill. And yeah, just progressed from there into WMBL and beyond.

Chloe Dalton

What was it like when you first got into the WNBL?

Rachel Jarry

Yeah, it was pretty special. I'd been a development player for Dandenong WNBL. So I'd been around, I guess, sort of that professional environment and seeing some girls that I'd grown up watching and loved to see play and then going into the Institute of Sport where you're you know, kind of all bunch of babies really trying to try to play against women and I obviously had a very experience, different experience today playing against women and pretty much getting flogged every week but we won a couple of games which we really enjoyed and celebrated hard but it was a massive learning experience and grateful to play against so many amazing players.

Chloe Dalton

How do you look back on that time in your life when I imagine being at the Tute? It's pretty all consuming, right? Because you're kind of picked out as a really talented basketballer who has potential to play professionally in the game. But what is it like to be pretty young and to kind of have your life consumed by the game? 

Rachel Jarry

Oh, it was really hard because I was a bit of a rebel and I would get grounded every weekend. So. For the silliest things. And so, it was a massive change for me. 

Deanne Butler

You used to sneak out. 

Rachel Jarry

Not even sneak out. Like I would just go out without signing out. And I understand why under 18s would have to tell people where they are. But still, I thought it was silly at the time. But it ended up taking away my weekends, which meant that I spent more time in my room, which didn't help the rebelliousness. 

But. Yeah, it was obviously a massive learning experience. I didn't know anything different from being at home with mum and dad. So to go and live at the Tute with people your own age, it is a learning experience. 

And yeah, it's consumed by basketball. But I think, you know, some people can go either way and you can get distracted by, you know, having so many friends there, other sports, that kind of thing. Or you can really concentrate on basketball. I probably had a nice mix of both, I think.

But I definitely learnt a lot, both in life and in basketball and yeah, managed to get to the other end and definitely had improved my basketball journey and probably came out a better person in the end as well.  

Chloe Dalton

Do you think there was a point in your career kind of as you got older and got more basketball experience where you tipped over from being less of a rebel or is it still something that you hold on to these days? 

Rachel Jarry

I think, yeah. I like, yeah. I mean, I am a cop now, so I can't really be a rebel anymore. I can't, goes with the job. But I think I'd always been a little bit, I don't know, yeah, I've never, I've not always been a rebel, I guess. Probably just clonked in a bit silly and all that kind of thing, a little bit blonde and have had my moments over the years. 

But no, I think once I got sort of into making Australian teams, then, and, you know, trying to make those Olympic teams. And that's when I really, I guess, knuckled down and thought, you know, this is a career I can have without having to grind away nine to five every day. So I think that's really what changed my mindset as well. 

Chloe Dalton

Yeah, cool. Dee, we might head across to you before we get into more of Rach's story. Can you tell us your entry into basketball was a little bit different again? Can you take us back to when you first found it and you as a kid? 

Deanne Butler

Yeah, well I grew up in country Victoria so we didn't like Vic Metro at all. And I must say we did win a championship so we did beat Vic Metro. I had to slide that one in there. 

Yeah, I grew up on a farm in country Victoria, so two and a half hours from Melbourne. Very small primary school, no one in my family played basketball let alone played sports. So, but being in the country, you sort of try to find things to do. 

And my prep teacher was actually involved in basketball in Wangaratta. And yeah, and I could see she was, you know, her daughter and a couple others in my primary school were playing basketball, but I had to wait till grade three. 

So because it was sort of always around and you saw them doing some training every now and then on the outdoor basketball court at our primary school, it sort of was something I decided I wanted to be involved in. So.

There was no under eights or under tens when I was playing. So I joined, like I think I was eight or grade three. So we just got flogged by 60, 80 points every game until I got to sort of top eight, under 12s. But by that age, yeah, then I, and I just loved it. 

Like it was just something that, yeah, I just clicked with and really wanted to be better at. And then, yeah, I started making rec teams in Wangaratta. 

So I, because I was probably, the only point guard, so I'm very different to Rachel. I actually was the tallest in my team, but then didn't grow much after that. Yeah, so I sort of played under 12s and under 14s.

So I was playing sort of rep in both. So we'd go away to tournaments. You know, I my friends would go to the shopping centre or go swim in the pool, but my mum would take me to a park with my pillow and I'd sleep because I was playing double the amount of0 games in the tournament. So I was sort of a little bit different to some of the other kids.

I'd get pretty tired because I was playing so much but I just loved it. So yeah a little bit different start than Rach but sort of a similar pathway through the state program, made country Vic. 

Yeah and really quite raw in terms of that coaching, didn't get exposed like our courts weren't, I mean I thought they were great but obviously once I got to the Australian sport I realised oh this is what a court should be. But You know, very different, but you know, like didn't take anything for granted.

 You know, I think that's probably a bit of that country upbringing a lot of from my mum as well. But yeah, just yeah, I was lucky and fortunate enough to get a scholarship at the Australian Sports. 

So very similar to Rach went to Lake Ginninderra year 11 and 12 to use scholarship. So yeah, the same beginning, I guess eventually.

Chloe Dalton

We'll chat a bit about your experience at the Institute being slightly different to that of Rachel's, but I'm just interested in that point you touched on about not taking things for granted. I think in women's sport, there's always this really tricky balance, right? 

Where you kind of like, you're so thankful for opportunities and to get access to things, but then you're often told when you ask for more just to be grateful for what you already have. Where do you sit with that now that you've had such an incredible career over so many years?

Deanne Butler

Yeah, well, I mean, I'm coaching now, so I see it a very different demographic to when I was growing up. Like for me, you know, to travel to anything or to go to a skills camp or a shooting camp or to a try-out was always a commitment. 

You know, and I think I remember I went to a skills camp at Vanilla and I didn't know anything about state. I didn't even know it was a thing representing your state in basketball and the state coach just so you know, happened to be at this camp and came up to me and said he wanted me to come to the trials, but I needed to learn how to do a jump shot and I didn't know what a jump shot was. 

And my mum, and my mum, I got for my birthday, Andrew Gaze, “Basketball the Andrew Gaze Way.” And it was a book that I learnt how to like, and there was talk about shooting technique and everything in this book. 

And so I read it and then he showed me like, said you need to be dribbling up to a bin and you've got to learn not to fall into the bin. So it was all being vertical on your jump shot. 

And so I cut up my shins hurting them on this bin, but I learnt how to do a jump shot and I went to the state trials and I made the state team, but he was really surprised that I'd made. So I think there was a bit of that determination instilled, but I don't think it was anything other than just probably a bit of the upbringing. 

But I look now, you know, cause I didn't have access to, um, even basketball Victorian qualified coaches. 

So, you know, now that they've done such a great job of rolling out coaching clinics and programs for coaches and development pathways across the state and have really accessed a lot of those smaller communities, which is really good. But sort of when I was growing up, that sort of didn't happen. 

So I, you know, I had great junior coaches that I'm still in touch with. But, you know, probably that access to, you know, the facilities and also the, I guess, you know, teaching techniques that you know, we take for granted now. 

And I had to do it myself. Like now, the athletes I'm coaching, a lot of them, you know, they put in work by themselves, but a lot of them won't work unless the coach is taking them, like, you know, forcing them or expecting them to do individual training. 

So it's very different. So I think that was just instilled early. And it was just something that I didn't know any different.

Chloe Dalton

Have you ever told Gazey that story? 

Deanne Butler

And I got him to sign it too. So, I know, yeah, I do need to let him know. But yeah, it was pretty cool. Like I read it, it was warm. Like I read it hard, this book. Like, because I just, yeah, I was really raw when I went to the Australian Institute of Sport. 

There was terminology that I didn't know. You know, and I think, yeah, and we talk about AIS experiences, you know, with Lauren Jackson and Penny Taylor and Susie Bakovic, Kristen Veal was coaching the WBL now, Belinda Snell, like freakish team. Liza was sponsored by Nike at the time. 

So, you know, she was getting all this gear and, you know, I was on a Centrelink stay away, live away from home allowance or something. Because, you know, like I just, it was just a really, for me, it was just a really different experience. But I was just in my dream being able to live, eat, breathe basketball at the AIS. 

Chloe Dalton

When you look back on that level of drive you had that, probably is a little bit different from some of the younger kids that come through today. What was it that made you want to keep going and be better and graze your shins on the bin while you're learning your jump shot? 

Deanne Butler

Yeah, I don't know. I just think because I loved it. And I knew, again, my mum was like a real physical person. She was always outdoors and she worked outdoors and really hard worker. And I think it was just something that my sister and I had sort of grown up with.

But yeah, it's sort of I've noticed as I've turned into coaching, it frustrates me somewhat. So I'm really self -aware if players don't have that drive that it is a kind of a natural thing as well, but it can be developed. So, yeah, I'm mindful of that. 

But yeah, there's things in basketball, I think, because, you know, I started seeing improvements and, you know, I'd started getting some awards. It sort of just made me the desire even more. And, getting injuries and setbacks still didn't sort of stop that drive until I got to the point where I could hardly walk. 

So, but, you know, like it's sort of, yeah, I don't know. It just, yeah, it was something, it was a great thing to do and I just, yeah, I loved it. 

Chloe Dalton

Yeah, cool. You both had the opportunity in your careers to head over and play overseas. Rach, what was your time like in the WNBA in particular? And the fact that you were a WNBL champion and then had the chance to do the same over in the US. 

Rachel Jarry

Yeah, it was pretty special. I was 21 and went over there and it was just a massive shock to the system, a whole different kind of culture. But one I really liked, obviously played for Minnesota and they were powerhouse of the late 2000s and then 2010 onwards. 

So they had an amazing culture in their team, which is not something like the girls I've spoken to played over in the WNBA. Probably haven't always said that about every team. 

There can be a lot of egos and that kind of thing, you know, trying to impress to get your own contract. But the team I played in was amazing. Just all wanted to win, so competitive.

Every training session was like a bloodbath, which you would absolutely go to win. And then, you know, you'd go out for dinner all together later that night and everything would be fine. 

And so that's the kind of, you know, special environment to be in. And I think you probably agree that when you look back on your career, you can think of like those few teams, which are like, not every team, but it's just something special about it that. Whether we won or lost that year. 

It's gonna have special memories about that team. Yeah, but like the whole experience is just amazing. 

Playing against the best in the world every second day and playing in front of big crowds and travelling around and kind of just feeling a little bit like a rock star is pretty special.

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Chloe Dalton

It's interesting you touching on that idea. I think even in my sporting career, I kind of like when I went from Aussie sevens and to I now play with the Giants in AFLW, I had this experience where the coach asked me like “you guys had success with Aussie sevens. What was some of the things that you did in terms of your team culture? Like, could we try it?” 

And we kind of tried to copy and paste it with this specific example and it just completely failed. And it was just this really interesting learning experience. Like I feel like so many people in sport and business almost like want to bottle up the successful culture and then carry it across, but it just doesn't work like that. 

Rachel Jarry

No, it's very specific, I think, to like who's in there and the characters that you have and whether everyone can buy into what the common goal is. And there's no set way to do that. It's just who wants to do that, who wants to win, who wants to beat a bit. 

Do you think, Dee, from your end, do you reckon that's one of the biggest things is everyone being driven to that same goal, that buy in?

Deanne Butler

Yeah, it's a huge factor in it. But at the same time, you know, the right character of people, you know, there might be players that aren't elite or they're, but their heart's genuine and they're the right type of person.

And, you know, if they have that commitment and buy into the group, it just, it shifts. And I think if you've got individuals that have an ulterior motive or, you know, they're there for other reasons, it makes it really challenging.

You know, and I think being able to have peer expectations, being able to, you know, as players hold each other to account rather than just being coach driven, that I think every team that I've played in that has had a good culture, it's because it's been peer driven. 

And I guess that's probably the same with work. That's certainly crossed over for me with policing. Any team environment being peer driven or that culture sort of driven within the group just makes such a big difference. 

I guess it relies a lot on the character and people understanding that everyone's got different roles to play. You know, everyone's got different strengths, everyone's got different weaknesses and recognising that and being able to work with that and celebrate them rather than sort of using them against each other. 

So which I've been in teams that that's happened as well. And it's really, they're the sad memories or the memories that you're like, no, that wasn't enjoyable. And when that happens, you don't play your best sport either. You don't play your best basketball when you're not happy, and you're not enjoying it. 

So I guess that's also crossed over into when I've been coaching now, particularly something that I'm really conscious of doing, because I know when athletes aren't happy, they're not playing their best basketball. 

Chloe Dalton

Yeah, is that something with your coaching you really work hard on? I think going away from the idea of like fitting everyone into this one box of this is exactly how you should behave and perform to be an elite athlete. 

Deanne Butler

Yeah, 100%. And I think, you know, I like even just reaching us to like our journeys, even though we kind of I mean, Rach ended a lot higher than me, but, you know, we still got, we both got to the AOSD and we both got to the WBL, but it's so different and having an appreciation for those different journeys, I think, bringing different experience, you know, and different factors that have shaped your talent. 

I think being able to recognise that, you know, and also being honest and genuine with each other too, I think when you've got players that are ingenuine, it makes it really, really tricky to manage.

But yeah, I think it's something I spent so much time on it now as a coach because it's just as a player, it's probably I can only remember and have enjoyed the teams where the culture has been positive. And it's really obvious now the older I've got.

Chloe Dalton

Yeah, it's such a big part of it. How do you reflect on your time at the Opals? I think it was 2005. Did you get to debut for the Opals? What was it like? Was this bodysuit days? 

Deanne Butler

Yes, certainly. Yeah. I actually went through, yeah, my husband gives me a lot of stick now because I have so many bags still of uniforms and I've been slowly colouring them and getting rid of them. But there's my favourite ones that I'm obviously keeping. But yeah, definitely bodysuit, bodysuits for training camps as well. 

So, you know, we couldn't even train in singlets and t -shirts. We had training bodysuits. So kind of ridiculous. But yeah, I was really lucky 2005. Yeah, after the season that I'd had got selected in the Opel. So Jan Sterling was a coach at that time.

And obviously 2006 was Commonwealth Games and also World Cup year, so, but a lot of the players unavailable, they were in the NBA or playing overseas. So it was a great opportunity for rookies to get a go. 

So yeah, I had a couple of training camps, we went to China. And then also that was when Australia had to go through Oceania qualifications. Now it's through Asia Cup as well. But yeah, went over to New Zealand for a three-game series against them to qualify for the World Cup next year, the following year. So yeah, amazing opportunity. 

Yeah, struggled with a little shin problem that I picked up playing in Spain. So I sort of hobbled through it a little bit. So there's a few, not regrets, but you know, the “what ifs”, which is frustrating.

And then sort of, yeah, when the WNBL season started, whether the shin problem impacted or not, but I hurt my knee. So that probably instigated some chronic knee issues that I had from that point on.

Chloe Dalton

Is that something that still impacts you now with your knee?

Deanne Butler

Oh, yeah. The weather changes, my knees ache. You know, like I'm sort of averaging two or three years of I get them cleaned out. I've got to have them both replaced. There's not much cartilage left. But, you know, I think it was something I was able to manage and I did a pretty good job of managing them. 

They're sort of deteriorating in the same fashion, unfortunately, at the moment. But, you know, I've sort of learnt to deal with it. I'm aware, less pain now, which is quite good, but I know when it starts getting sore, it's probably time to get another little clean out. 

So I'll keep tinkering along with that until they get replaced or technology gives me new knees and then I'll be back playing basketball. 

Chloe Dalton

Oh, great. See you out there! 

Rach, what was that experience like for you getting to represent your country and follow in the footsteps of Opal's royalty that really set up this, you know, this next few years for the generations to come? 

Rachel Jarry

Yeah, well, I got selected in my first Opal squad, I think just 2011, just before, obviously in the lead up to 2011. Yeah, 2011. It's been a long day. I was only 10 then. I've lost 10 years. Yeah, no, 2011. But.

That year I was injured with my knees as well, which is again, caused me lifelong issues, I'm sure. So I didn't actually get to go to any training camps that year or anything like that, which was disappointing. But I got put in touch with the basketball Australia strength and conditioning guy at the time, which was Bowdoin Babichek. 

Shout out to Bowdoin if you listen. Absolute legend. So I remember Kristi Harrower and I were seeing him at the time and, her and I would go down to the park with him like three times a week running, doing all this stuff around knees and just all this different work. And that was probably a switch in my head where I was like, oh, this is what it takes. 

Like Kristi Harrower is here three days a week on top of everything else she's doing for basketball to make that team when she's a lock. Like she's our best point guard. So that was kind of an inspiration to me.

And then I had a really good WMBLC then leading into 2012. And just was, I guess, lucky enough to make the Olympics. And yeah, it was just, it was a really hard time because I guess when you're on that fringe and you're really fighting to try and make a team, especially as a 20 year old.

I was really shy when I was younger. So it was hard to kind of go into that moment where all these women are like in awe of and have been watching, you know, growing up. I remember, I think Mum pulled out like a drawing I'd done when I was in, I think when the Athens Olympics or something was on and, or maybe Sydney or something.

And it was like, I want to be like Lauren Jackson when I'm older. And then all of a sudden here I am like trying to make a team where she's the captain of and ends up carrying the flag for Australia. So it was kind of daunting, but I managed to get through that, made the team, which was so special. And just to, yeah, do it alongside such, such amazing players is really, really in my heart. 

Chloe Dalton

When you look back on the injury journey, if you could tell 18 year old Rach, what you would do again if you got injured as a kid? What do you think the biggest thing you've learnt from it is? 

Rachel Jarry

Oh God, I would have bulked up so hard as an 18 year old and just get my quads so strong. I think until you go through it you're kind of like, no I'm sure I'll be right. But yeah, now, yeah it would just be the rehab, the pre-hab as the professionals call it now.

Really trying to look after your whole body. Like basketball is so hard on the knees that pretty much most girls get to the end and they've got knee issues which can't always be prevented. But yeah, it's just taking that rehab strength and conditioning seriously from when I was a rebel at the institute. 

Chloe Dalton

Rebel to cop!

Dee, can you tell us a little bit about how you first started working with the police and how you first got involved? 

Deanne Butler

Well, it's kind of ridiculous when I look back now because I should have waited but I joined Vic Pol when I was 19. So yeah, I graduated from the AIS. I wasn't sure where I was going to play. So at the time, AIS don't play in the WNBL anymore but we were playing in the WNBL. 

So we had coaches would actually fly up pre -season and meet with all the players that they wanted to try and recruit. So there's kind of this recruiting couple of days where you'd have meetings. 

And so I applied for uni across the country. So I had that and I applied for Criminal Justice Studies because it was kind of a thing that I liked, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do and I deferred. I got in a couple of different states. So, but as it turned out, I signed with Dandenong Rangers and yeah, it came down. 

So I was doing pre -season with them and then obviously our season started and one of the training players was actually in Vic Pol at the time and one of the assistant coaches was a police officer as well. 

So I was hearing all these cool police stories. Yeah, so I think I'd always had it in the back of my mind. My mum again, big influence and sort of had planted that seed a little bit because she'd wanted to be when she was younger. So I decided to bite the bullet and just give it a burl. 

Yeah, both the assistant coach and teammate was sort of saying, yeah, you can do both. So yeah, decided to give it a go.

And then I actually joined 15th of January 2001 mid -season, so right in the middle of WL season. And yeah, it was exhausting. So we trained practice, team practice. And I mean, it's very different to now because they can train during the day. 

But because you didn't get paid enough, it was always training in the evening. So I'd be in the academy, wake up 6.30 start, finish at 4.30, I'd have my training bag ready to go. I'd go to training 5.30 till 7.30. By the time you do recovery, I'd get back just after 8 or 8.30 back to the academy. 

And I had a squady that would get my dinner for me and put it in the fridge. So I'd sit by myself and smash my meal. And then I'd ring someone and go, “where are you studying?” 

And then I'd go and try and just cram a little bit and then go to sleep and then do it all again the next day. And then on the weekends, play, so wherever we were going, so interstate trips or home games. I remember it was week, when did you do Firearms? Week 10-ish. 

And it was leading into finals. And so we had a final, it's so bad thinking of it now, but we had a final in Sydney Friday afternoon and it was out at Homebush. So, and it was Friday afternoon and it was Firearms Week. So we had to, you had to qualify like Thursday or Friday was when you sort of qualified and cleared the week. 

And I remember, like I was a bit of a benchy player for Dandenong. You know, we had a studded team, but we've made, yeah, we made this final. And my coach kept saying, you know, we're leaving Friday morning. 

Like, are you, you know, are you able to come? And I'm like, I can't leave early. And next minute I get called to a superintendent at the police academy, his office, which, back then, you never really spoke to a Senior Sergeant, let alone an Inspector, let alone a Superintendent. So that was a big deal. 

And I was 19, so I was nearly crying walking into this meeting. And apparently, and I didn't know, but the club Dandenong, had put through this request, through to request that I can be released early on the Friday so I could fly to Sydney for this game, so you can imagine. 

And then, so as it turns out, the firearms instructor's been told, and they said if I passed on the Thursday, then I was allowed to go. So no pressure on passing Firearms Week early. So I remember, but the, you know, without naming names, the firearms instructor then took it upon himself to make it really difficult for me for the rest of the week. 

You know, getting my face going, are you here to play basketball? Are you here to be a cop? And I'm like, I'm here to be a police officer. You know, so it was really, it was really intimidating. But as it turned out, I passed on the Thursday and, um, yeah, and I flew up on the Friday and my squaddies and everyone was really, really supportive. 

And it was when basketball, ABC basketball, Saturday afternoon, three o 'clock on TV, the final. Yeah. Yeah. And so, yeah, fly out. I remember and I just had to go direct got a taxi straight to the game. I'm sitting in the changing rooms. 

Timsie, I think, might have been commentating or something, or she came in at one point. And then, yeah, and then we played and I didn't get on.

So I didn't get one minute court time. And then I was mortified because my whole squad sat down this afternoon to watch me play and it was mortifying. So then I had to go back to the Academy Monday morning and face everyone for the whole deal for me to get me away for this game. 

But you know, it was pretty full on. I was pretty tired but at the same time got through the rest of the academy unscathed and got all my placement into the city. 

Chloe Dalton

And you had a time when you had a pretty last minute contract signing over in Italy where you also had a bit of flexibility provided by your boss. Can you tell us a bit about that one? 

Deanne Butler

Yeah, I'd actually transferred, I'd been playing for Bendigo in the off season. So I was working here in a city and then or in Eastern suburbs, actually, living in Eastern suburbs, and I'd played for Bendigo. So it's a little bit silly because I'd travel up and back and get home at midnight and 6am the next day. 

And so then again, getting pretty tired, run down. So I'm like, and my Bendigo coach at the time was Kristi Harrower's dad. So Kristi Harrower was in the team as well. So he was applying for a WNBL license. 

So Kristi had some way to come home to retire too, because at that time she was playing a lot in Europe. And then he got this license. And so he's like, get up here to see if you can transfer. And Bendigo had actually built a whole new police station. It was beautiful, but it was larger. 

So they actually had a bit of a recruiting phase. People had been on the list for Bendigo for a couple of years. And as it turned out, I went on the list and not long after I got the phone call to say that I'd been matched to a physician. 

So anytime you transfer regionally, VicPol help you with the removalist and cover costs of moving. So I'm moving into this house with another teammate and the removalist was there. And my agent calls at the time, Alison Cook, so shout out to Cookie. 

So she rings and she's like, “Dee, I've got this gig in Italy, you've got to go. It's you can't say no”. And I'm like, I haven't even done one shift here in Bendigo at all. And so I had a cut off of when I had to sign the contract. 

And I think it was about three weeks time and I hadn't worked at all for Bendigo. I knew maybe one, two people in Bendigo. So I said, “look, I'll, I'll see what I can do." And she's like, “no, you've got to do it. Like, you can't say no”. And I said, “all right, I'll get back to you.” So I literally worked two weeks and I thought I'll give it two weeks and then I'll make, you know, suss out what it's going to look like. 

And as it turned out, the Senior Sergeant that was at Bendigo at the time was a massive basketball fan, played basketball himself, kids played basketball. There were a lot of basketball fans in that worked at Bendigo, which was just the best.

And yeah, and being a country town too, they supported sport a lot too. And it was really big in the media up there. And yeah, so I waited two weeks and then I went into his office and sort of said, look, I've got this opportunity. And he didn't even hesitate. He just said, you've got to go. 

So yeah, really, really lucky and fortunate to have that support. So I put all my paperwork for Leave Without Pay and off I went to Italy for nine months. Yeah, which was incredible. 

And I was, yeah, I was, I had some new people that I'd only just met that were reaching out. They'd email me every now and then just to check in and sort of they followed me while I was over there, which was really cool. 

Yeah, and then, yeah, trip of a lifetime. We won the Italian Championship and won the Euro Cup. So I was very lucky. I was in a pretty cool, yeah, pretty cool team. It was stacked. 

Chloe Dalton

Have you got a favourite story to share? 

Deanne Butler

Oh, I don't know. We were talking about this before. Yeah, I don't know. Like a lot of stories that we've got have been…

Rachel Jarry

Your car one. 

Deanne Butler

The car one?

Rachel Jarry


Deanne Butler

Well, I've got, so when I was playing, and we talk about, you know, strength and conditioning training. So when I played, I was quite naturally strong. So especially when I was playing for Dandenong, we had a really significant weights program. 

So I was probably the fittest and strongest I've ever been, probably rolling out my first couple of years in Vic Pol. And so when, especially rookie, well, now a lot of young people, they can't work together, you know, training like DTWs can't work together. 

But when I was in the city, you could have quite a couple of young young Constables on the van together often. But one of you obviously had to go through drive training or driver training and I couldn't get on the list for ages. 

So I wasn't allowed to drive. So I was with this guy who's now in our special operations group who's extremely fit, strong, and he was training then. So a bit of an athlete himself. 

And, back when Flinders Street had the King Street overpass, I don't know if you remember, it was a bridge kind of thing, Flinders Street it was a bit of a rise, a car had broken down, and so we were just happened to be driving past, so he was driving, so I kind of jumped out because his car had to be moved off, but it was on the incline, so I got out and just started pushing this car. 

I know I wouldn't be able to do it now, but I'm just like, yeah, whatever, and I just pushed this car up the hill, off to the side of the road and it was right near a tram stop and all these people started abusing my off -sider because he's this big strong, early man. 

He's like, get out and help her. And he's obviously got the lights on, he's trying to park the car. Yeah, and I managed to get this guy, he didn't even help, but he's like, she's fine. And then as soon as we sort of got the car secured and everything, there was like this whole standing ovation from the tram stop that gave away. I didn't know we drove off, but.

Yeah, there's been, I mean, there's obviously been some tragic stories and gory stories and everything through Vic Pol that I think I've really been able to, a lot of fun too, like, you know, a lot of great memories, great friendships, you know, funny little stories like that that just, you know, sticking your mind that just because at the time too, you know, it was odd to see, you know, a female cop just out, just pushing a car up a hill. 

But yeah, I think particularly, you know, for me, having the two, basketball was my outlet. Like I'd have some shocking days and then I'd go to WMBL training and you know, it just gave me something, a different outlet and something else to concentrate and focus on. 

You know, whether I'd still be able to do it this day and age or not, or whether they'd allow me to do it, you know, I don't know, but for me it actually really helped being able to have two outlets essentially run parallel.

Chloe Dalton

That was, was that pre social media days? You could have been like a viral sensation.

Deanne Butler

Definitely. Yeah. It would have been like 2001, 2001. Yeah. 2001 it probably would have been. Yeah. So, um, yeah, luckily. Yeah. Phones with that. Um, right. 

Rachel Jarry

That would have gone viral.

Chloe Dalton

Rach, we chatted last week before recording the podcast and one of the components, one of the reasons why you ended up joining the police was partly an experience that you had, I think when you were in your early twenties, was it?

Rachel Jarry

Yeah, when I was 20, I was just out with a friend in the city and walking back to my car. And then we were approached by a group and robbed and beaten up pretty badly, which is terrible. 

And I guess now on the other side, I see it from a cop’s perspective. But we went back to, I think, Melbourne East police station at the time. And Dee was working that night.

So, Dee, I think, called me the next day to check in on me after hearing what happened. And, you know, just having that kind of bond, I don't even think we'd really properly met or anything, but just knew each other, obviously, through basketball. 

And just to kind of have people's back like that was a really amazing thing for me. And then the detectives who handled what happened kept me informed of everything about what was going on.

You know, that kind of experience, that good experience with police really had an impact on me and helped me get through that. So it was something that I wanted to kind of, you know, do for other people. It's something that really got me interested in the job. 

Chloe Dalton

How is it getting to that point of like being comfortable to say, I think, think my body's done? 

Rachel Jarry

So hard because I guess you don't want to, yeah, you don't want to like, leave anything out there, but also you don't want to go into you absolutely shot and you can't even help your teammates anymore. So I think I just got to the end of my last season and I was exhausted. 

And then I went into an NBR one season and I just, I couldn't train really anymore and training was hard. I think that was, I used to like love going to training, love being with my teammates, love trying to win every drill at training, but training got really hard and it was a chore and I didn't really want to go. 

And that's kind of when I realized, like my priorities have changed and it's not bringing me as much joy as it did. And that's not an easy realisation to come to when basketball's been your whole life, pretty much, since you were five. 

So it was a hard time, but some amazing friends and family that's brought me through that. And I think having a career outside of basketball really helped immensely as well. It was not like, “oh, what now?” Kind of feeling empty. It was, "yeah, at least I've got something else I can focus on, you know, and put my time into."

Chloe Dalton

I could keep talking to you guys for a good couple of hours, but I've really loved getting to know each of you and a bit more about your stories. I've watched you for many, many years and admired what you did on the court, but really cool to kind of get to know a bit more about you guys off the court as well. 

So thank you so much for your time and good luck for the rest of your careers. Hope the knees hold up a little bit longer. 

Deanne Butler

No, they're fine. Vic Pol, they're fine. 

Rachel Jarry

I can chase crooks all day. It's all good. 

Chloe Dalton

Amazing, thanks so much, guys. 

Deanne Butler and Rachel Jarry

Thanks Chloe.

Outro: Chloe Dalton

Thanks so much for listening. 

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