2015 Class of FIBA Hall of Fame: Jan Stirling
MIES (2015 FIBA Hall of Fame) - On Friday 17 July, FIBA announced the 2015 Class of Inductees of the FIBA Hall of Fame. In the lead-up to the Induction Ceremony taking place on 19 September in Lille, France, we profile the inductees.
A trailblazer in her homeland, legendary Australia play-caller Jan Stirling will fly the flag high and proud for coaches when she is formally inducted next week.
Her accomplishments in the women's game as a former player who made the successful transition into coaching are unprecedented.
Stirling stepped out for the Opals in the 1970s and appeared for her country at the 1975 FIBA Women's World Championship in Columbia - as well as representing North Adelaide with distinction in the domestic game.
Once she hung up her playing shoes and decided to try her hand at pacing the sidelines with a coaching play-board, it wasn't long before the Adelaide native witnessed her career and reputation hit a near vertical trajectory.
Both in the WNBL and internationally, Stirling was an instant hit as she began to build an eye-bulging resume of honours.
Made even sweeter was that she did much of her best work in her hometown with Adelaide Lightning. Having carried them to title success in 1993, she was crowned WNBL Coach of the Year - but that was only to be the start.
Stirling took the club to an unbelievable 12 straight WNBL Final appearances and five consecutive Grand Final outings which ultimately harvested four WNBL Championship titles.
Running parallel to her WNBL career, it wasn’t long before she got the chance to take a historical footstep by becoming the first former Opals’ player to coach her country.
Still in her 30s, Stirling became an assistant coach in 1994 and was involved in an array of title runs and podium finishes including winning the FIBA Oceania Women's Championship in 1995 and 1997, as well as a bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and a third-place finish at the 1998 FIBA Women's World Championship.
An even bigger high then came when she helped the Opals to the 2000 Olympic Games Final on home soil in Sydney which resulted in a silver medal.
A year later, Stirling was installed into the hot-seat as head coach and the accomplishments kept coming. In fact, they were to be even more impressive, with one particular historical high tide mark to follow.
She initially guided the team to another third-place finish at the 2002 FIBA Women's World Championship in China, before taking the Opals to the Olympic Final in 2004 when they landed silver in Athens.
Perhaps the most memorable moment of all came in Brazil at the 2006 FIBA Women's World Championship, when Australia finished on the top of the podium. Stirling was the first coach to lead a senior Australia team to a gold at the global event.
It came in the same year that she also scooped gold at the Commonwealth Games in front of the partisan locals in Melbourne.
Stirling wasn't done there and achieved successive Olympic Final appearances by taking the Opals to another silver in Beijing in 2008.
It is therefore little wonder that when she stepped down in the wake of the tournament, she was widely heralded as Australia's most successful coach.
She went on to be a consultant for the Russian Basketball Federation and High Performance Director of the Australia Women's national wheelchair programme, which took silver at the London Paralympics in 2012.
Stirling is also credited with catapulting women's basketball into the limelight and mainstream media due to her unrivalled and glittering success.
She was honoured in the Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday List with a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) medal for her services to women’s basketball as an elite coach and player, as well as being a valued contributor to professional development and the community.
Other plaudits have included the Australian Sports Award for International Coach of the Year in 2006 and entering the South Australian Sports Hall of Fame in 2010 for what she delivered with Adelaide Lightning.
Now Stirling finds herself with yet another accolade and the considerable distinction of being inducted into the 2015 Class of the FIBA Hall of Fame.