JCU Townsville Fire import Amy Kame is the two-time reigning champions special guest columnist for the 2016/17 WNBL season.
Over the next six months, the Colorado native will take you behind the scenes of the Fire as we chase a championship three-peat!
Hi Fire faithfuls,
The past couple weeks have been challenging for us.
We’ve been pushed mentally and physically at training, and as hard as we worked last week, we didn’t translate it into a win against Bendigo.
Only a couple weeks has gone by since we played Sydney, and after a one point loss against them, we are looking to bounce back and get a win at home to gain momentum heading into four straight road games.
We have had a few minor injuries and illnesses over the last couple weeks as well, which is nothing new over the course of a season, but one of those players is Haylee Andrews.
Let me just start by saying Haylee is probably the toughest 16-year-old I’ve met (most likely gets it from her dad who is a Warrant Officer PTI in the Army).
After being out sick for a little over a week, Haylee was back to training.
She was given a warm welcome by tripping over a loose ball, and being landed on (luckily her head broke her fall) and a hard elbow to the nose (sorry, my bad on that one).
In all seriousness, Haylee shows a lot of maturity and toughness, and she’s taken advantage of an amazing opportunity playing with the Fire, where she undoubtedly holds her own on the court.
Haylee grew up in Wodonga, Victoria before she moved to Townsville in 2007.
She’s now in grade 11 at Townsville State High School.
— Claudia Brassard (@33Clo) July 27, 2016
Haylee, and most Australian’s, have a different experience in sport compared to Americans.
While it all starts similar; growing up, finding what sport or sports you love to participate in…it is different for a 16-year-old like Haylee, compared to a 16-year-old in America.
When I was 16, I played three sports, and even though I loved basketball, I didn’t spend more than four or five months training in that sport.
Now days more kids are moving toward playing club basketball in America, which would be year around, and more like the Australian system.
But thinking about a 16-year-old, training and playing with some of the best players in the country, that is an opportunity you just don’t see in America.
Although there are sports specific schools, most of the competitive play revolves around the clubs in Australia.
Then, players like Haylee, can decide if they want to play professionally, or go to college in the states.
If the JCU Townsville Fire wasn’t around, Haylee’s opportunities at playing at a high level would be limited.
— JCU Townsville Fire (@TownsvilleFire) October 18, 2016
A lot of the time it’s harder for players in small towns to get opportunities as the biggest clubs are in cities like Sydney and Melbourne.
While in America, it is a bit of the same.
I grew up in a city of about 100,000 people, and before high school, our only opportunity to travel and play sports was AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) which is a great experience for young kids to travel to big cities and compete against players from all over the country.
When you’re from a smaller town, the opportunities are slimmer, but in American high school sports, competition is usually high and college coaches are normally seen at high school competitions.
In my case, playing AAU going into grade 12 was a good decision, as playing tournaments in Chicago, San Diego, Las Vegas, etc, gave hundreds of coaches an opportunity to see me play.
Many players bank on these AAU tournaments getting them seen by colleges, and earning themselves a scholarship, especially if they are from smaller towns, or uncompetitive high school teams.
A teenager in America would not have the opportunity to showcase their skills against older and more experienced players, like they do here in state leagues as well as the WNBL.
In Haylee’s case, also being from a small town, she has the advantage of not only playing with, but learning from some of the best players in her country, which will definitely be recognised by college coaches.
Many Australian’s are finding success in college athletics.
This could have a lot to do with playing alongside older and experienced players at a young age.
Australian clubs spend a lot of time developing players early on, and preparing them for competition at the highest level.
Having the opportunity Haylee does, to train and play with a WNBL club, is just an added bonus.
There is a big difference in the high school and college system of America, to the semi-professional and professional leagues in Australia.
But club, or AAU organisations that are offered at a young age are similar in both countries.
There are pro’s and con’s to both sides, in America, going to college and getting your education paid for, to Australia, being able to go pro and make a living off the sport you love at a young age.
Both are appealing options, and Haylee has the opportunity to do both.
Make sure to come out and see Haylee and the rest of the team on Saturday night to cheer us on against Sydney!
Click here to pre-purchase your tickets to the Fire’s home game against the Flames.