Rick recalls a lifetime of sport

By GREGOR MACTAGGARTmactaggartg@gladstoneobserver.com.au

THERE is no doubt that Rick Hansen is one of the most recognisable names in Gladstone.

Many of you may know him as The Observer's basketball colum- nist with Fast Break, but Rick has lived a full life in sport, business and family since moving to the harbour city 28 years ago.

Along with him for almost every step of the way has been his wonderful wife of 30 years, Lyndal.

Born in Maryborough in 1955, Rick's childhood was filled with sport, primarily in rugby league where he represented the heritage city with distinction at senior level.

"I had a good childhood in Maryborough, I played rugby league and a little bit of cricket until I tried basketball at the age of 12,'' Hansen said.

A fitter and turner by trade, Rick made his way to Gladstone in 1977 after scoring a job at Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL).

"I moved up here to work at QAL and stayed for 19 years starting on tools, then progressing as a supervisor and workshop co-ordinator,'' he said.

It didn't take long for Rick to get involved in sport in Gladstone ? he in fact played a game of basketball on his first night in town.

"The Gladstone basketball people knew we were coming and we played a game on the first night here which was fun,'' he said.

Rick also got into the Gladstone rugby league competition and was the QASC Red Devils captain-coach in their inaugural season.

"The Red Devils were a good social young club and we had plenty of good times in the local competition in those days,'' he said.

"It was a close league with Valleys, Wallabys, Brothers, us and of course Wests ? they were good times.''

Even though he enjoyed rugby league, Rick's true passion was the sport of basketball.

Rick along with Barry Maluga, Pauline Kelly and Kev Broome were instrumental in the construction of the Kev Broome basketball stadium which has been the centrepiece of the Gladstone Basketball Association for over 20 years.

"In those days, all the basketball was played outside and we wanted to get an indoor stadium together,'' he said.

"With the tremendous assistance of the Green Belt (QAL) organisation we were able to build the stadium ? it is a credit to everyone involved.

"I actually had the first shot in the new stadium, I might have missed ? but saying that I still took the first shot.''

Rick and Lyndal were among the first accredited basketball coaches in Gladstone and coached a number of representative teams for more than a decade, while Rick also refereed at a state titles during this period.

"I always enjoyed coaching juniors, usually I coached the girls and Lyndal coached the boys ? in fact Lyndal was the coach when Gladstone scored their best ever finish (3rd) at the state titles,'' he said.

Rick's two daughters ? Annika and Pia ? have also had a long association with Gladstone basketball and like their parents are giving back to the game.

"It is funny how it turned out, obviously myself and Lyndal were basketball people and it is great to see Annika and Pia doing their bit for the sport,'' he said.

But at the peak of his powers, Rick left QAL and stepped away from local basketball to put his time into being as successful in business as he had been in sport.

Rick benefited from the business guidance of Lyndal, who established herself as one of Central Queensland's top government sporting administrators.

"Lyndal was a great help to me, her influence and experience in business has helped me immensely,'' he said.

And Rick didn't disappoint, running a handful of successful businesses and becoming a great supporter of community organisations including the Girl Guides and the Gladstone Mudcrabs AFL club around the Clinton area.

"I wanted the businesses (Clinton Foodworks and Georgia's Fish Shop) to work and unfortunately was unable to put the time into basketball like I had done before,'' he said.

"I am one of these people who can't just sit around, I want to get involved and because I couldn't do that with the businesses, I stood out for a while.

"As a business owner, I am always happy to help out local clubs around Clinton and it great to support them in a small way.''

But the passion for basketball never waned and Rick returned to the Gladstone basketball mix as president recently and he is loving being back in the sport.

"I love basketball and with the business going well, I decided to come back for a number of reasons including my two grandkids (Georgia and Isabella Aitkenhead) playing and am enjoying it.

"It is an exciting time to be involved with the Port City Power and the challenges for everyone associated in the Gladstone Basketball Association,'' he said.

Rick is sure to be busy, with the game re-emerging in Gladstone at all levels from juniors right through to the Port City Power.

"The future for basketball is very bright in Gladstone and hopefully it can go from strength to strength,'' he said.

"Our juniors have the incentive to play for the Power now and that can only be a good thing for the future.''

And that future is definitely going to be in Gladstone with his growing extended family.

"Gladstone is a great place,'' he said.

"I have been happy here for almost 30 years and with my great family around me ? you couldn't be any happier could you?

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