Hall of Fame Inductee
Russell Bowie commenced coaching basketball in the early 1960s while he was a student at Townsville’s Pimlico State High School. His coaching of junior and senior basketball in the Townsville basketball competition continued from the mid-1960s until 1969, when he moved to Mareeba.
Russell continued coaching junior and senior club teams during his ten years in Mareeba, successfully participating in the Mareeba and Cairns local competitions, and in North Queensland club championships.
Russell Bowie’s introduction to state championship coaching was in 1967 when he was appointed as coach of the North Queensland women’s team to participate in the state championships in Cairns.
Following his successes with Far North Queensland teams, in 1977, Russell was appointed coach of the inaugural Queensland under 20 women’s team to tour NSW and again in 1978 for a Victorian tour. These tours were one of Basketball Queensland strategies to fill the gap in elite competition opportunities prior to the advent of the under 20 Australian championships.
After moving to Brisbane in 1979, one of Russell’s early successes was his coaching of the Mayne club team to qualify to contest the 1980 Australian women’s club championships.
In 1979 and 1980, Russell was appointed as assistant coach, to Harry Spencer, with the Queensland senior women’s team at the Australian championships.
Then, in 1980 and 1981, thanks to the strong effort of coach Russell Bowie, the Queensland under 18 women’s team won back-to-back Australian Championships, giving him the distinction of being one of only two Queensland coaches to win two Australian championships.
Following these twin successes, Russell Bowie then coached the Queensland under 20 Women’s team to a silver medal, narrowly defeated by Victoria in the final of the 1982 Australian championships.
In January 1982, the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) was expanded to include the Brisbane Lady Bullets with Russell Bowie appointed as the inaugural coach and Steve Langley as his assistant.
Under difficult conditions, tough competition and travel schedules, no home games and with Queensland talent playing for other interstate teams, Bowie’s rigorous preparations paid off and Brisbane established credibility on the court – a major accomplishment for a newly formed team playing against elite competition. Coach Bowie later returned to the Lady Bullets as assistant coach for the 1991 and 1992 seasons.
At Club level Russell’s coaching of junior basketballers at state championships extended for more than 15 years, coaching Brisbane teams until the advent of the state classics in 1985, and then coaching teams from Southern Districts (Spartans) from 1987 until 1991.
His dedication and professionalism were instrumental in establishing Spartans’ junior development and elite programs. Recognised as a defensive specialist and a footwork fanatic, many of his techniques are still in use at Spartans.
Russell was also instrumental in developing Spartans’ women’s program through his emphasis on juniors, leading to the establishment of the Lady Spartans and as his role as inaugural coach in 1990.
Russell Bowie’s dedication and vision personified coaching excellence with ground-breaking successes and his exceptional contribution at every level makes him a most worthy candidate for the Queensland Basketball Hall of Fame.