At the ripe old age of 45 I’ve called time on my basketball career.

I retired in perfect fashion, winning MVP in a championship but I’m not walking away from the game I love because my body has finally given in, to start a family or because I’m mentally exhausted. I’m emotionally drained from the abuse I cop from the sidelines.

And it hasn’t just been this season while suiting up for the North Adelaide Rockets in Adelaide’s Premier League, this abuse has been going on for the last few years. It’s personal and it’s hurtful.

At the end of 2016 I quit the top-level comp because I was suffering depression and was sick of the years of jeers I’d copped from opposition players and the crowds.

People say stuff without thinking twice but they don’t know what’s going on in my personal life. It’s like anyone really, you never know what’s going on behind closed doors.

What happens if being booed or heckled tipped me over the edge? Or someone else?

I think the abuse is intended to throw me off my game and because I play my basketball on the edge.

I play hard and I play physical but what I don’t play is dirty. I am a retaliator not a fighter.

Maybe it’s because I’m old and old enough to be some of my team mates and opponents’ mothers or maybe it’s a tall poppy thing because I’m an Olympian still playing at local level and dare I say it, still playing pretty well!

Whatever the reason it’s not on and I’ve had enough, it’s been exhausting and taken a real emotional toll on me.

My basketball fairytale ending capped what was a pretty emotional few weeks following the death of my much-loved father Ian at the age of 84 from kidney cancer and complications from a broken femur. I adored him.

That championship was for him.

He would have been there at the stadium watching me with my mum and the rest of the family, I’m the youngest of five kids so there’s a few of us. But I know dad would have had VIP seats for the game up in heaven and would have been telling everyone “that’s my baby.” I also know he would have been proud.

I don’t know what it was that night we beat Forestville, whether it was Dad or because it was my last game but everything was rolling for me.

I made my first shot when I came off the bench then missed a couple of foul shots and thought ‘oh no’ because foul shots are my thing. I do individual coaching and that’s what I tell my kids, it’s a mental game the foul shots, they win and lose games and you really need to focus on them. So that was running through my head…’this is what I tell my kids!’

But things turned around and I’m proud to say I had 29 points and 11 rebounds, but more importantly, played my role for the team as we completed the perfect season, 20 straight wins on the way to the title.

I achieved plenty in my 30-year basketball career but this is definitely one of the highlights. I started at North Adelaide as a 15-year-old so it’s only fitting that’s where it all wraps up. I’ve come full circle.

I guess it all started for me back in 1993 when I was part of the first Australian team, junior or senior, to win an international basketball medal.

The Aussie junior girls (or the Gems as they are now called) took home the gold medal at the FIBA Women’s Youth Championships in South Korea. To be part of history, that gold medal and little piece of history that goes with it is something nobody can ever take away from us, and it’s something I will always cherish. Great Australian basketball names like Kristi Harrower, Jenny Whittle and Michelle Brogan were my team mates, plus Sally Phillips who is now the boss of the WNBL, and I was fortunate to represent my country alongside them in the years to come and on the biggest stage of all.

Upon returning to Australia I carved out a national league career in the WNBL, played 351 games and enjoyed some wonderful team success including a championship with North Adelaide then four with the mighty Adelaide Lightning during the club’s incredible era throughout the 1990’s. In 1998, I was judged Grand Final MVP.

I was lucky enough to play professionally overseas and learned valuable life and basketball lessons playing around the globe.

It’s funny actually, when I was playing in Europe in my last season I was 35 years old and thought ‘this is it, I’m too old, no team will have me.’  One game I was playing against a girl in Spain who was 42 and I thought ‘who would be still playing at 42!? That’s crazy! That’s in seven years time and there’s absolutely no way I’ll be playing’ and here I am at 45 having just retired. It makes me laugh now.

Then there was the Olympics.

In 2000, it was a life highlight and honour to represent the Opals, and all that our national women’s basketball team stands for, at the Sydney Games. To play in front of a vocal, loyal home crowd and in front of friends and family was a dream come true. Add a silver medal, our best finish at an Olympics, to the mix and it was the biggest of thrills.

I retired from the WNBL nearly four years ago now and have for the most really enjoyed my time playing in the state league, competing at the level, proving to myself I can still do it and helping my team, especially after we lost the Grand Final last year.

In 2014, the club named their court at Hillcrest after me. That was certainly a huge honour.

It means a lot to have played over 300 games for the Rockets, a club record, and to have been awarded club champion on 10 occasions. They are the memories you take with you when you leave the court and the friendships and connections mean even more. I consider myself very lucky to have made many friends thanks to playing our great game, the sport I love, all around the world.

I’m not a party animal or big drinker but I ended up with Laryngitis after our championship and I can’t even blame it on partying because I only had four drinks and was home by 1am. I had another Grand Final on my mind.

Last October I did what has become quite the sporting trend and became a dual sport athlete, taking up Aussie Rules for the first time. And I love it, I just wish I was a little bit younger.

I played when I was nine years old, growing up you’d play footy in the morning with the boys then netball in the afternoons. Since then I’ve had a kick of the footy with kids at the school I teach at or with my nephews over time. I went out and thought I’d give it a go, if I made it I made it and I didn’t I didn’t. I wouldn’t die wondering.

I joined Adelaide Uni but with basketball commitments only played five or six games of football during the home-and-away season. I play in the forward line and as the weeks go in I’m gaining a little bit more confidence. My biggest thing is marking the ball when it’s coming in because in basketball you don’t have the time to jump, so I jump and the ball’s gone over my head.

So, a week after winning a basketball title I was out on the footy field, playing in the forward line against Sailsbury in the decider.

We had them all day then they came out in the last quarter and kicked three unanswered goals to win by 18 points.

I was happy to kick two of our three goals for the day.

And I didn’t hear a sledge all afternoon.