PEOPLE AND EXPERIENCES
The AIS had a team in the WNBL in those days. I played two seasons there and was part of a couple of Australian junior teams before I headed to Bendigo Spirit, where I won club MVP in each of my first two seasons.
In 2011, I made my first Opals squad for Oceania qualifying for the London Olympics. I’ll never forget receiving the email about my selection and just crying with happiness. It was nice to contribute to qualifying, but missing selection in the Olympic year made me wonder how I could improve.
Around that time, Tom Maher, who was at Bulleen after coaching the China national team, contacted me about coming to his side. Tom is an amazing coach and when he’s trying to recruit you, you have to jump at the opportunity. He was working at Bulleen with Michele Timms, an absolute Opals legend.
Working with them was great. When they moved on, Bulleen’s new coach, Guy Malloy, had a huge impact on my game. Guy taught me an incredible amount, about footwork, shooting, setting goals and so much more. His attention to detail is amazing.
Like with the 2012 Olympics, I just missed out on the next World Championships squad. But, after another good season with Guy, fate took an interesting turn.
Guy came up to me in the locker-room one day and said Sandy had rung to ask about me. He was talking about Sandy Brondello, the current Opals coach who was coaching at Phoenix at the time. I was so shocked!
Guy’s message was that my hard work had been noticed and to keep going as hard as possible.
Sandy’s call to Guy turned into an offer to go to a training camp – the hardest camp I’ve ever experienced – which then turned into a contract.
My old friend Cayla also came over to Phoenix, which was great. I remember Penny Taylor took Cayla and I out for dinner one night with Diana Taurasi. I just thought, ‘Wow! Is this real?’ I never thought I’d be in that position, out to dinner with one of the greatest basketballers ever!
I played eight games for the Mercury before a player returned and they cut me. It was a great experience and I came straight back into the Opals squad for the next Olympic qualifiers. My time in the US, I felt, had given me a good chance of making the Olympic team.
I injured my ankle pretty badly that next WNBL season but I was so determined to make the Olympic team that I kept pushing through. When the final squad was announced, I just missed out. I’d had my heart set on the Olympics. It was a really tough blow. That’s when I rushed off to Poland.
A NEW APPROACH
My year out of the game gave me a whole different perspective. Once something’s taken away from you like that, after having done it all your life, you tend to appreciate it a lot more.
I’m 28 now and have reached a stage where I just want to enjoy the rest of my career. I love basketball and want to be happy in the way I play it. I feel more appreciative than ever for the lifestyle the game has given me.
I’ve travelled to some wonderful places and met so many fantastic people. I remind myself regularly now to be grateful for all the ups and downs.
Sometimes, when you’re an athlete, things work in ways that you can’t predict or control. It’s funny that my journey to a silver medal at the 2018 Worlds came after I’d been able to attend only two team camps, whereas previously I’d done everything possible and been cut at the last moment.
For this year’s squad, instead of being one of the last players cut, I made it as one of the last players included. I think Sandy saw at the Mercury that I had a positive attitude and was a team player, and she wanted me around the group as we head into a big year.
I’m so grateful to Sandy for giving me this opportunity, to carry on from the Worlds last year, where I’d stood up there receiving that medal, thinking about how much I’d been through to get to that point.