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Priestly proud to earn Cougars life membership

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Taryn Priestly might have won championships elsewhere but to now be about to become a life member with the Cockburn Cougars is a career highlight that will be hard to top as she embraces being back part of the Cougar Family.

It’s only fitting that Priestly will reach her 200-game milestone with the Cougars this Saturday night against the Willetton Tigers back at Willetton Basketball Stadium where she started her career, and ended up winning two championships with.

But it’s at the Cougars where Priestly has played the majority of her 337-game SBL/NBL1 West career and she will reach a significant milestone on Saturday night by becoming a life member and reaching 200 games.

Priestly has returned to the Cougars in 2024 for the first time since 2018 and while having won a second championship back at Willetton in 2021, nowhere has ever made her feel more at home than Wally Hagan Stadium.

It’s incredible how these things can work out as well and you couldn’t have scripted it better than for Priestly to bring up the milestone this Saturday in the Grand Final rematch as the Cougars take on the Tigers at Willetton Basketball Stadium.

For Priestly, she is playing the 337th game of her career overall, but it’s 200 at Cockburn and she couldn’t be more proud to reach the mark and to celebrate in familiar surroundings.

“Like all the pieces have fallen in to place,” Priestly said.

“It feels as though I’m exactly where I am supposed to be.”

Not only will Priestly celebrate her 200th Cougars game on Saturday, but one of her closest lifelong friends, Kyle Armour, will play his 300th game in the league on the same night playing for Cockburn against Willetton.

Considering the pair grew up at Willetton dreaming of playing in the then SBL competition at the stadium, and while it might look dramatically different now, to celebrate milestones together in that building even in different uniforms is a special thing.

“When we were 10, Kyle and I use to one-on-one on the back courts during the Willo SBL games. He’s been my best friend since, so it means a lot to share this moment with him,” she said.

“Hitting 300 games is a huge deal, and I couldn’t be prouder of him. He’s an incredible player and a great leader, qualities that have really shaped his outstanding career! The Cougar men’s team love having him around, and so do I.”

What playing 200 games and earning life membership with the Cougars means is that your photo goes up on the wall of Wally Hagan Stadium for the rest of time.

Priestly joins former teammates like Kirsty Whitfield, Fleur McIntyre and Nicole Roberts up on that wall as 200-game players to earn life membership at the Cougars, and she couldn’t be prouder.

“They are all legends, so it’s an honour to be next to them, but an even bigger honour to be amongst team mates,” Priestly said.

“I’m lucky that I’ve had a lot of opportunity with sport but this is definitely a proud and special moment that I will hold close to my heart.”

Any milestone provides a chance at reflection and for Priestly it’s been quite the journey to not only reach the 200-game mark with the Cougars, but across her 337-game career in total across the SBL/NBL1 West competition.

Her career started as a 17-yer-old in 2007 at Willetton and she would play her first 67 games at the Tigers along with being part of the championship team in 2009.

She would end up joining the Cougars for the first time in 2010 and that’s where she would call home all the way up until the end of 2018, amassing 195 games across those nine seasons.

By the end of 2019, she returned to Willetton for another three seasons including winning another championship with the Tigers in 2021 while celebrating her 300th game in that Grand Final triumph against the Joondalup Wolves.

Following that, Priestly spent the next two seasons with the Lakeside Lightning, but when the chance presented to return to Cockburn in 2024, she jumped at the opportunity.

As for the chance to reflect on what she has done over a 337-game career with three clubs over the past 17 years, and while the championships stand out, the lifelong friendships built are even better.

“Oof.. that’s a big question. Obviously I looovvveed winning a couple of Championship rings!” she said.

“But reflecting on my career I’d have to say alongside a championship it’s the people I got to do it all with along the way.”

As one of the most tenacious, efficient and creative playmaking point guards across her previous nine-year stint with the Cougars, Priestly threw everything at trying to be part of that breakthrough successful team.

She never doubted that the Cougars women would get there and she was anything but surprised to see them win that elusive first championship in 2023 even if she certainly wouldn’t have minded being part of it herself.

Priestly was playing at Lakeside at the time, but when she wasn’t coming up against the Cougars directly, she was happy for their success and now on the back of that, couldn’t be happier to be helping them defend that championship in 2024.

“I knew the Cougs would get one, we were always building something special so I’m just really happy they got one,” Priestly said.

“I’m just enjoying being a part of the Cougs again.”

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