As a dad and a granddad the thought of inspiring young women sits extremely high on the list of priorities for Deakin Melbourne Boomers GM Justin Nelson, and he hopes the club’s #TellHerSheCan campaign for its upcoming December 4 home game successfully captures the hearts and minds of all dads and daughters.
For the second year running the Boomers will host its Dads & Daughters Day when they play the Sydney Uni Flames at the State Basketball Centre from 2:30pm next Sunday, it’s an afternoon Nelson hopes is viewed as an event for all families, highlighted of course by dads spending time with their daughters.
“Last year’s Dads & Daughters Day was a great success, it was fantastic to see so many men bringing their daughters to the game and spending quality time with them,” said Nelson, adding, “And don’t think for a minute that mums and sons weren’t there either, they were, it was a family day out. I really enjoyed it.”
This time around the Boomers are hoping to go one step further, encouraging dads and daughters to share personal messages with each other in the lead-up to the game.
The Boomers want dads to #TellHerSheCan. According to Nelson it’s a campaign about “showcasing the important role dads play in encouraging their daughters every day, being a leader and a mentor, being a friend, offering them positive reinforcement and supporting them, through good times and challenging times.”
The campaign will include messages and stories from dads and daughters across the community, including a number of well-known faces. More importantly the Boomers want to hear from Australia’s basketball community, particularly players, coaches, volunteers, members and supporters across the WNBL.
“This year we are asking everyone to share their Dads & Daughters stories, photos or videos with us, be it on Facebook or via email, or even within their own club. There’s no reason why every basketball club can’t pick this up and run with it. Let’s make it a week-long celebration. It’s up to all of us to #TellHerSheCan.
“I want to see my fellow dads bringing their daughters to the game and telling them they can be great, be successful, a high achiever, a dreamer, a leader, a doctor, a nurse, a farmer, a teacher, a policewoman, an elite athlete, that they can be anything they want to be. I want them to #TellHerSheCan,” said Nelson.
“My granddaughter wants to be a dancer one minute and an Octonaut the next. How can you be anything other than supportive of that?”
In a very personal twist, Nelson is taking the first step in the #TellHerSheCan campaign by publicly sharing private details for the first time about his own relationship with his oldest daughter, 27-year old Stacey.
“I became a dad at just 17-years of age and a granddad at 37. I think most people who have known me for a while would say that for the best part of Stacey’s first 18 years we were inseparable, we were always together, especially when it came to basketball, but over the last decade Stacey has gone out and created her own life and found her own feet. Or should I say found his feet.”
After giving birth to Nelson’s first granddaughter Frankie, nearly three years ago, Stacey called her dad and told him something wasn’t quite right, there was an inner feeling that was hard to explain, it had been there for a long time and it was only now that she was ready to face it, to tackle it head on and to do something about it. Most of all, she wanted her dad’s support.
Stacey, or as he is today known, Ace, felt he was a male and went through an incredibly long and thorough assessment program, ultimately coming out the other side with experienced physicians and experts agreeing that Ace was a transgender person and should indeed go through the transitioning from female to male.
“I think the conversation was far greater for Stacey than it was for me at the time. Stacey didn’t need my approval, she needed my support and I told her she can rely on me, I told her to be strong, to follow her feelings and that I’d support that next exciting phase of life.
“I just remember telling Stacey that I fully supported her, that I would be happy and proud of her no matter what she wanted to do and no matter what the outcome was. I did say it would take some time to start saying “he” and “Ace”, but it’s starting to come more naturally. I call everyone mate anyway, and I think Ace likes that,” said Nelson.
“So I guess for me, my #TellHerSheCan story is one of telling my daughter, Stacey, that she can be proud of who she is and the direction she was taking. Today I tell Ace to do the same. I love him and I’ll be there for him. I’m incredibly proud of him.
“It’s a bit of a different story, but here I am celebrating Dads & Daughters Day and I’m telling the courageous story of my daughter, who is now my son. I’m a proud dad and I’m right there beside him.
“The great thing for Ace is he will be there at Dads & Daughters Day this Sunday and he’ll be sharing it with his daughter, Frankie. I really like that and I can’t wait to see them both cheering the Boomers on. It will be their first Dads & Daughters Day and that means a lot to me.
“But I’ve still got some work to do, I also have a 25-year old daughter, Jessica, and I need to be more active in her life, I need to tell her she can achieve and do great things. This Sunday will be our Dads & Daughters Day. I’m looking forward to that.”
To help celebrate Dads & Daughters Day, Nelson now wants all the dads out there to share their #TellHerSheCan story with the Boomers.
“To be honest I’m not expecting too many stories like mine, but dads, get on the Melbourne Boomers WNBL Facebook page, share your story, get your club involved, tell us the messages of inspiration and advice you give to your daughter. Then get along and enjoy the game on December 4. Get out of the house and enjoy some valuable family time with your daughter,” urged Nelson.
WHAT: Dads & Daughters Day
WHEN: Sunday December 4
WHERE: State Basketball Centre, Wantirna South
WHO: Deakin Melbourne Boomers vs Sydney Uni Flames
TIME: 2:30pm tip-off
TICKETS: at the door or save 20% online @ www.trybooking.com/BOOMERS