Beginning her career as a player in her home state of South Australia, Stirling played 163 games for North Adelaide in the WNBL while transitioning into a career as an Australian Opal at the age of 20.
She was a member of the national team that toured Colombia in 1975 for the World Championships, where Australia finished third in the classification round.
However, Stirling’s legend grew once she moved beyond a playing career and took on the head coaching role at Adelaide Lightning when the WNBL club was founded in 1993.
In the following 12 years, she led the Lightning to a finals appearance every season while winning Coach of the Year in her debut season.
Adelaide would appear in five Grand Finals from 1994-1998 and win four Championships in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1998 to become the most dominant side of the decade.
That success saw Stirling make a return to the Opals in 1994, this time as assistant coach, before taking over the reins as head coach in 2001.
She made an immediate impact at the 2002 World Championships in China, winning Australia’s second consecutive bronze medal before claiming gold at the following World Championships in 2006 in Brazil. That victory was the first gold medal for an Australian basketball team at an international tournament.
2006 also saw Australia win a gold medal at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and was flanked by two silver medals at the 2004 Olympics and 2008 Olympics. Only the USA stood in their way in both tournaments but the second-places came in the middle of a current run of five top-three finishes since 1996.
Following the 2008 Olympics, Stirling stepped away from Australian basketball, leaving behind a legacy as the country’s most successful coach and was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her contribution to sport.
She has returned in recent years as manager of the Australian women’s wheelchair basketball program as well as being involved on the selection committee for the Boomers and Opals coaching panel.
After dedicating more than 40 years of her life to basketball, Stirling is certainly deserving of a place in the FIBA Hall of Fame alongside other Australian names Lindsay Gaze, Andrew Gaze and Alistair Ramsay.