Tributes flow for league legend

Colac’s Bev Bauer dedicated almost 50 years to basketball in regional Victoria. She is pictured in 2010, after stepping down from the role of Colac Basketball Association treasurer after 27 years, in front of her basketball honour wall.

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has dedicated more time to basketball in country Victoria than Colac’s Bev Bauer.

Tributes have flown in for the beloved volunteer, who passed away on Friday aged 76.

“An icon for Colac basketball”, one tribute read, while another said Bev would be “extremely missed by the Country Victoria basketball community”.

Her involvement with basketball began in the early 1970s as a spectator, and soon she joined the Colac Basketball Association’s committee.

And while you could assume Bev’s dedication to the sport would have come after a lifetime of playing basketball – you’d be wrong.

“I actually never played basketball, I only played netball,” she told the Colac Herald in 2010.

“I just loved basketball, my nephew Mark Rosevear used to play when it was down at the showgrounds and I used to go along and watch.”

Basketball moved to the Bluewater Fitness Centre in 1976 where Bev remained a committee member, before close friend Joyce Williamson talked her into taking on the role of treasurer in 1983; a position she held for the next 27 years.

Her dedication did not go unrecognised, with the association quickly awarding her life membership in 1989.

Bev also received the association’s Commonwealth Award a whopping six times; in 1985, ‘89, ‘93, ‘95, ‘01 and ‘05.

One of her biggest achievements came in 2017, when the Colac association named its new grandstand after Bev.

“She never stopped,” CBA president Peter Lemke said.

“I’ve spoken to people in their 50s who can’t recall ever not seeing Bev at the stadium in various roles,” he said.

“It’s an amazing effort by Bev, she’s given so much to the sport.

“She kept giving all the way through, she’d even been helping organise things for the CBL grand finals in Colac this weekend, as well as manning the door for our domestic competitions on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.”

Bev’s commitment to basketball was not limited to the Colac district, and she soon began making an impact at state level.

During the 1980s and ‘90s, she managed Victoria Country state teams for 14 straight years and brought back a remarkable six gold and three bronze medals during that time.

She became involved in managing in 1985 as a favour to Colac coach Cheryl Creighton.

A host of Australia’s biggest names women’s basketball passed through the system under Bev, including Kristy Harrower, Desiree Glaubitz, Belinda Snell, Deanna Smith, Michelle Fletcher, Emily McInerney and Donna Rinaldi and Gina Stevens.

Bev’s involvement with BVC goes beyond team management; she has also featured on the BVC Council, was Regional Academy head administrator for 20 years, was an inaugural member of the BVC Awards Committee, volunteered for an extensive period within the BVC Country Championships, was part of BVC Jamboree for over 25 years, and spent two decades as head manager at the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup.

Her efforts earned her the ACJBC Award of Merit in 1992, and BVC’s prestigious Jack Terrill Medal in 1993.

BVC even named its award for female volunteer of the year after Bev.

But arguably her biggest achievement in the sport came last year when Basketball Victoria awarded Bev with life membership for her dedication over the past 40 years.

“I am not sure anyone can come close to the enormous body of work that Bev completed, but it is something to aspire to,” BVC general manager David Huxtable said.

“People like Bev and her story are inspirational, and this is why we must learn about our history and keep telling the story as we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for people like Bev,” he said.

All players will don armbands for Bev when Colac Basketball Association’s domestic competition returns this week, while players, spectators and officials will observe a minute’s silence before this weekend’s BVC Country Basketball League grand finals in Colac, as Mount Gambier and Bacchus Marsh’s men’s teams, and Millicent and Geelong’s women’s teams battle for the Bev Bauer Shield.

Former Colac CBL coach Keith Harrison said winning a shield named in honour of Bev was part of the reason he returned to the Colac association to coach in 2013, leading the Kookas to titles in 2015 and ‘18.

“Bev was an absolute legend of Australian basketball, particularly country Victorian basketball and the Colac Kookas,” he said.

“I had many reasons as to why I went back to the Kookas to coach and one of the main ones was so Bev could see the club win ‘her shield’.

“I was so grateful a legendary bunch of blokes were able to get that done for her and for me to be a part of it.”

Despite all her accomplishments, it was meeting the people of Colac that Bev told the Colac Herald she enjoyed the most during an old interview.

“I love my basketball and I love the meeting people, new kids,” she said.

“They come in and say ‘G’day Bev’, and it’s nice they show they appreciate what you do.”

Bev is survived by her husband Cliff, and children Kerri, Melinda, Ali and Karen and their families.

Family and friends are invited to farewell Bev at a memorial service at Colac Basketball Stadium on Friday.

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