I took so much for granted as a student-athlete studying a Bachelor of Education (took me 6 years… 2 states and 2 universities). If our training or travel load increased throughout the year, I could just drop a subject or go part-time so that the Gliders were my main priority.

When we had an international tour or camp, I could email my university professors and beg for an extension… whilst cc’ing the Sports College into the email, eagerly awaiting the “No worries, you have been granted a 2 week extension” reply.

Luckily all of the staff at Griffith University were incredibly supportive of me and my sporting career!

When I eventually graduated, I landed my first part-time job as a Primary teacher in Grade 6. It was great – I would work 2 days a week and then pick up a few casual days here and there if I felt like it. It was the ideal work/sport/life balance.

At that time I was in training for the 2017 IWBF Asia Oceania Qualifying tournament (held in Beijing), which would land us a ticket to the 2018 Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in Hamburg.

Life was great, until I scored my dream job, at a dream school with my dream grade – only to have it all during a world championship year. A full time year 3 teacher as well as a full time athlete – what a rollercoaster of emotions Term 1 was.

Full-time teaching was a whole new world, I would get up at 5 and then train for 2 hours, go to school and eat my breakfast at my desk while planning/marking/talk to parents/chase up admin/cut/laminate/cry/drink coffee/photocopy/more cutting/more meetings – All before school started, and then the real fun started.

Teaching isn’t a career to have if you like to sit down, rest and have a clear mind… as well as being a full time (broke) athlete.

I would be teaching my class and be thinking about basketball, and when I was at basketball I would be thinking about school.

After a full day of school, I would hit the highway and head up to Brisbane to train at the QAS gym & have a team on court session, often with my laptop on hand to do work between sessions.

I am lucky enough to have an incredible Fiancé, Matt, who plays on the men’s wheelchair basketball team (the Rollers) and we train together, he would do all of the driving so I could work on the road.

Getting to bed after midnight because I’d come home and do more work, and then getting up and doing it all again the next day.

Having it all was definitely something I thought I could do, however as a low key perfectionist I couldn’t keep up… and my motto ‘Fake it till you make it’ no longer worked for me.

I ended up with pneumonia and in hospital and just emotionally and physically exhausted. I was at the point where I felt like I was letting everyone around me down, especially my teammates as well as my littlest fans/students, and that feeling killed me!

Inevitably, I was asked to step away from full time teaching at the end of Term 1. The reality is that school demanded so much of my time and I couldn’t provide them with what they needed.

I requested a few weeks off for competition and the school felt like they couldn’t support me any more. I understand completely, it wasn’t just my future that the school had to consider, it was the 25 little legends in the class more importantly.  

I was absolutely devastated. I had worked so hard to be the best teacher I could be for the students and it was just taken away from me… just like that. I thought it was the end of the world. I was angry, upset, exhausted and just extremely overwhelmed. My heart was broken.

At the end of the day – just like in a team sport, this decision wasn’t about me. It was about the students in the class who needed to be given the best opportunity, and the reality of the situation is I couldn’t provide that for them.

Upon reflection this was the best thing that happened to me. I was able to re assess my values and what is important to me. I was then able to focus on getting healthy & fit for my team and the World Championships in August later that year.

Asking for help, especially as a Graduate teacher whilst still coming across as competent, was difficult.

However I was extremely lucky that I made some unbelievable relationships with staff members to help guide me in the right direction and always had my back.

My teammates were always so supportive of me, checking in and seeing how I was doing physically and mentally. Matt and my family & friends will continually be my biggest support network as well as having the most amount of belief in me.

I am extremely stubborn when it comes to asking for help, because I want to do everything myself, but I wish I had asked for more help during one of the toughest changes in my life so far.

The struggles that I went through early on in my career, trying to do both, has taught me so many life lessons that I know will set me up for success in the future and I’m beyond grateful for all the opportunities and learning’s I’ve had along the way.   

Now I’m working as a relief teacher in only a few schools, so I can maintain close personal relationships with the schools and students.

Sometimes when the kids want to test the relief teacher I pull out the ‘Did you know I play basketball for Australia?’ card and they are right back in the palm of my hands back on task because I’ve promised them a game at the end of the day… but only if they’re an all star learner!

I cant wait to go back to full-time teaching once my basketball career quiets down, but until then we (the Gliders) will compete in the qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Paralympics later this year and then on to the big dance in 2020.