I've been playing the sport since I was 13, I saw an advert in the local newspaper advertising a disabled sports group called Jigsaw who wanted new people to come along and try out wheelchair basketball. Up until that point I had never played any team sports, I used to be a swimmer until I had an operation on my spine which limited my movement and made it somewhat more difficult, but I'd never had any interest in any other sport. Around this time I had been getting a lot of chest infections and I was rather shy and quiet (stop laughing, honestly it's true!) and so after a discussion with Mum about it, we decided it might be good for me to go along and have a go. I kind of begrudgingly said I would, on the condition I could take a friend and so the next Tuesday, Chris my best friend and I went down to the leisure centre and took part in our first basketball session....
The rest is kind of history. I was hooked. I played as often as I could, which got more and more regularly as the years went on. I moved to a different, more advanced team after a year and a half or so, within the next year I was representing the North West at Regional level. Then I moved clubs again, to a higher division team and by the time I was 17 I'd had my first invite to Great Britain women's trials. I didn't get selected the first time I went but I carried on working hard, improving my strength and my skills and I was selected for team training the day after my 18th birthday, I attended all the GB Team camps for the next year or so, trained with the GB Juniors who were a mixed sex team, which improved my abilities no end having to keep up with the men, during which time I attended a domestic training/tournament camp with the Dutch national team, and then I made my debut performance for the women's team at a tournament in Cannes, France in 2007, aged 19.
The following year, the selection year for Beijing 2008, everything was going very well, things were looking promising, I'd been selected to attend a warm up tournament in Belgium starting on the 4th April, and on the 2nd April, I fell out of my chair in my bedroom and broke my leg....
Both my tibia and fibia were snapped completely in half, 1cm below my knee joint.
That was it. No tournament. No training. No Beijing.
Just like that it was all taken away.
To cut a long story short, I was put in a cast, developed a pressure sore after a week, spent the following 18 weeks in cast, contracted MRSA, then osteomyelitis (infection in the bone), as well as neutropenia, anemia of chronic disease and spent 21 weeks of the next year in hospital... to name just a few things... and four years on I'm still suffering the consequences of it all. I still have a wound and I haven't played competitively since.
So, that's how the coaching started. I couldn't play, but I couldn't bare to leave to sport I love so much behind. So I started coaching at my club, realised I actually quite enjoy it and I'm not too shabby at it and here we are now. I'm still not really supposed to play, or stay in my basketball chair too long but I've made an exception for this weekend. Which I have to say is quite strange. Although I've been in my chair a few times and done a few light training sessions, I haven't spent all day in it like I would do at camps for over four years.
I'm feeling the affects of it now, I'm a little stiff and I've got tyre burns on my elbows, cuts on most of my fingers and my shoulders and neck are tighter than ever.... but it feels so good! It might sound sadistic but I love feeling the pain after a good training session, I love getting into the shower to ease the tightness in your shoulders and feeling the sting of all the cuts and scrapes, and, I know I'm going to be so sore in the morning but I'll still wake up with a smile on my face, knowing I'm going to do it all again tomorrow and be even worse on Monday, but I can't wait.
I might have missed London this year.. but there's only four more years until Brazil, you never know maybe I'll be able to pull the vest on again...
|Looking rather sweaty after I just scored my first international basket :)|
Right, it's nearly time for Dan to come home so I'm going to go and put the kettle on, cut us both a slice of lemon cake and then fall into bed ready for another 6am start and another day of basketball! *Struggling to hold in my excitement!* Woooop!