The soon-to-be Maryland star stopped in Tennessee to visit former teammate and Australian colleague Jessie Rennie and the stupid lights were back on. Something was wrong.
“It had no oil,” said her angry father Adrian. “So you know that there was only one essential fluid lacking. [Later] She said, “You know what? The light went out! ‘”
Leigh-Anne Bibby, Chloe’s mother, added: “You can’t tell this redhead anything. She chooses something and will do it. And she has. “
That mindset led a young Australian netball expert to cross the ocean to pursue a burgeoning basketball career in Mississippi before heading to Maryland to start for a Terrapins team with a historic achievement in their sights. The Terps lead the nation with 92.5 points per game and are well on their way to breaking the school record.
Bibby was 15 when she announced to her parents that she was moving to Melbourne. The family lived on a farm in Warracknabeal and had been going through a busy schedule when their basketball talent began to blossom. As a child, she played netball, which was Leigh-Anne’s specialty, but she was introduced to basketball in fifth grade when she met some players in Canberra. She came home and told her parents that she wanted to be like the girls she met. Goodbye, netball. She had a new focus.
The basketball opportunities in Warracknabeal with around 2,400 residents were limited at best. So the family would travel to face better competition, and by the time she was 14 Chloe was about 6 feet tall and was working with coach Owen Hughan, whom she calls her basketball Yoda. She started playing for the Horsham Hornets amateur team about 45 minutes away, and that grew into games in Melbourne four hours away. So the Bibbys picked Chloe up from school on Friday, drove to Melbourne and stayed for a weekend of games and training.
The trip turned old after a year and Chloe stated she was moving to Melbourne. She attended boarding school and played in semi-pro leagues before moving to the state of Mississippi.
“She was just that kind of person, even at that age,” said Adrian. “If she thinks that, then we should probably just let it go, support her, and see where it goes. We didn’t know. So we just thought, “We’ll see where it goes.” ”
It went across the Pacific Ocean to a small university town in Mississippi called Starkville. Bibby played 88 games and was a newcomer to the Bulldogs team who lost to Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament title. But the next step in the journey was obvious.
The coronavirus pandemic cut the season short and coach Vic Schaefer went to Texas. Bibby decided to enter the transfer portal before her senior year and Maryland’s Brenda Frese was the first to contact. Other programs came forward, but video conferencing with Frese and the coaching staff was enough for Bibby to see, out of sight. She had never been to College Park or DC before, but those kinds of details never stopped Bibby from doing what she wanted.
The relationship with Frese and the program was a match from the start, and the Terps needed a veteran with leadership skills who could get buckets after losing five of their top six goalscorers.
“It brings an energy that lights up the room when it comes in every day,” said Frese. “Obviously their championship mentality. Your veteran leadership. She agrees to have tough conversations and call people if necessary.
“From a basketball finish, she brought great toughness. Really managed to spread the ground with her ability to shoot the three. … The last bit for them is just the defensive part of the game. I think this is the last bit for them and to make us an even better team. “
Bibby has averaged 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds while averaging 26 three-point points in 12 games. The rebounds and threes are the second highest points on the team. These are impressive feats for someone who seems to have difficulty staying upright at that 14-foot height.
“She falls a lot in practice,” said teammate Mimi Collins with a laugh. “I mean, everyone sees this because we post it a lot on social media. … She’s just a clumsy person. It just falls. This is my best buddy. … It is literally like a big rainbow with the fattest sunshine ever. She’s just a great person, a great personality. She is always there for you. “
Bibby said, “I’m coordinated but also so clumsy. I do not understand. My feet are huge and so I trip over them all the time. I keep falling and it’s the slowest fall ever. It’s so embarrassing. … I mean, it makes for a good laugh. “
All the signs point to a WNBA career as a player with the ability to shoot from the outside and still hit deep. But a deep run in the NCAA tournament is an immediate priority, and Bibby is enjoying the ride. A big, toothy grin is never far away and it comes with that downright Australian combination of wit and self-irony. That’s almost a requirement for the farmer girl, who spent part of the summer on her parents’ 1,200 acres chasing miles of fences and chasing sheep.
She may be a professional, but Bibby remains the same girl who ignores a car warning light and can trip over her own feet at any time.
“I’m not afraid of changes. I’ve never been there, “she said. “I’ve moved a lot. And to be honest, the change appeals to me. When the opportunity arose, I said, “Well, I know I have a chance.”
“I just like being around people and making people laugh. That’s me. “