Teisha Shadwell began her basketball career like many others, following in the footsteps of her older siblings. She worked her way from domestic under 8’s to representative under 14’s playing in the top team for her club and even taking home the gold at the National Championships.
At 14, Shadwell was paving herself a path to a basketball career, with endeavours to represent in the green and gold on the world stage.
“We all [siblings] played representative basketball, and we were fairly active in all school sports. I had always hoped one day that I would be wearing the green and gold and strived for this every time I trained and played. That was always the goal I was working towards, but you don’t really know if you are good enough in till your there.” Shadwell says.
“When I was eight, I decided to try out for representative basketball. Unfortunately, I did not make it, but I did not let that stop me. I worked harder and made the under 12’s fifth rep team when I was 9. After my third season in under 12’s, I finished with a grand final win, MVP and captaincy. This pushed me even harder to achieve my goal of representing Australia.
“Over the next 12 months, I continued on my pathway of working hard, which saw me fortunate enough to be accepted into a sports academy for secondary school and selected for multiple state teams. After a lot of hard work, I was able to tick off a lot of boxes including, in 2016, making the 14’s first team in my representative club and competing at under 14’s National Championships with the team.”
The intensity of training for the National Championships led Shadwell to develop pain in her feet. Shaking it off as “normal” from the preparations of such a big tournament, Shadwell never thought twice about it.
“I pushed through, and our hard work paid off. We won gold at national championships naming us the top under 14 girls’ team in Australia. But as soon as we returned, I spent the next few months with a lot of specialties due to the severity of the foot pain.”
Scans and X-Rays reviewed that Shadwell had been continuing to play with navicular bone fractures in both feet for six months. Navicular fractures happen when the bone is overused or suffers a trauma, however after playing on the fractures for an extensive period, Shadwell faced difficulties in recovery.
“Over the next year, I had various plasters and cam boots, but eventually had to have surgeries as the fractures were not healing. Unfortunately, complications with the surgery led to damage of both the nerves and structure of my feet which meant not only was I having to live with limited mobility but I also had to deal with the devastating news that I wouldn’t be able to play basketball again.”
A hard pill to swallow, but not enough to stop Shadwell from playing her favourite sport and take away her life-long dream of suiting up in the green and gold on the global stage.
“I struggled with the news, but I didn’t want to this to be the end, so I jumped online and found out about wheelchair basketball and before I knew it, I was out back on the court all over again the only difference was I was in a wheelchair.
“After finding the missing the piece of me, I decided I was going to train hard and continue the goals I had already set. Before I knew it, I was flying around Australia playing WNWBL, and I didn’t think it could get better than that.
“I then received an email asking if I wanted to come down to the AIS and train with the Australian under 25’s team. I was filled with so many emotions, but overall, I was happy.”
After working hard and going through some training camps, Shadwell was eventually led to her first appearance as an Australian representative.
“I was selected to go to the Osaka Cup with some of the glider team and then in the same year to the under 25 Woman’s World Championships in Thailand. These opportunities saw me work even harder, and I was thrilled when I was officially asked to be a part of the Gliders squad in 2019.”
Now, as an official squad member for the Australian Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team, The Gliders, Shadwell is more excited and determined than ever to see what she can achieve. With a lifelong goal of representing Australia, Sandwell reflects on how it feels to experience that honour.
“The training load picked up a lot, and we were constantly flying everywhere in our preparations to qualify for the Paralympics. I didn’t even contemplate that I would be selected to go over to Thailand and be a part of the squad that would help us qualify, but I was so excited and humbled to get that opportunity.
“I’m training more than ever to reach one of my major goals in my life, to represent Australia at the Paralympics, and every bit of hard work is worth it. Every time I put on the green and gold jersey with the word Australia written across my chest and get to be beside my team singing the national anthem, I am filled with so much pride.”
Stephen Charlton, the Gliders Head Coach also speaks highly of the young athlete;
“Teisha came into the program following the 2018 World Championships after showing her talent in the 2018 WNWBL season. She’s an incredible talent. Her able body background in basketball has given her a very strong base, and over the last two years has improved a huge amount” Charlton says.
“She’s a natural rebounder who also has the ability to put the ball on the floor and push the fast break. She’s also a very talented passer of the ball, which her teammates love. Initially quiet, which is not surprising given she is only 16, she really came out of her shell in Thailand where we played the Tokyo AOZ qualifying tournament.
“Due to some injuries to other high pointers, Teisha started every game and really started to come into her own both on and off the court, holding her own against much more experienced opposition. As she continues to feel more comfortable at the international level, I think we all see a long and successful career for her” He says.
Shadwell also has a massive heart for her family and expresses immense gratitude to her parents for their ongoing support in her life and career aspirations. The 16-year-old says she is inspired by her parents who she calls her role-models.
“My parents are my rock; they are the reason I continue to smile every day. My dad always makes me happy, even in the most difficult times and continues to be there for all my needs. My mum is such a strong woman; she always believes in everyone and inspires me to follow my dream.
“My parents have given the world to help me achieve my dreams; they have sacrificed so much in their life to be by my side when I needed them. When I first got told I would never be able to play basketball ever again, I wanted to just lie in bed and give up. This outcome didn’t just affect me; it also affected my parents, but they didn’t let this outcome stop them. They adjusted to this new life and kept on going, which helped me to not give up and get out of bed. Every day I look up to them and want to be just like them.”
Beyond the basketball court, however, Shadwell is a dual athlete and played wheelchair AFL for Essendon Football Club and Richmond where helped her team to win a premiership. Shadwell is still studying her VCE, but in her spare time, enjoys going to the movies and playing board games.