Basketball Superstar Finds Hope Through Traineeship
SA trainee and proud Aboriginal woman, Serena Waters, had her basketball dreams shattered when she tore her ACL last year, but thanks to her never-give-up attitude and AFL SportsReady traineeship, she found hope.
“I was always drawn to basketball and have been playing passionately since the age of 11,” said Serena, 18.
“I love everything about the sport and I know this is what I want to do professionally,” she added.
Serena has been playing Nationals since the age of 13 and has continued to only get better as the years go on. Her promising career led her to being offered a scholarship at Barker College, a boarding school in NSW, where they have focused basketball programs.
“I lived and breathed the sport and trained hard to progress in the game.”
However, heartbreak struck when in November 2018 Serena ruptured her ACL while training with the under 20’s National team. At that time, she had just been offered 5 scholarships at top U.S colleges to pursue her basketball career after finishing high school.
“It was a huge blow. I had these opportunities lined up and when I injured my ACL, I was devasted.”
Never the less Serena kept her head up high and after surgery she was back training with the squad in no time.
However, 6 months into her rehab, the same ACL ruptured again.
“After my second injury, the recovery period was said to be 12 months.”
“It was incredibly devasting because I wouldn’t be back playing basketball until July 2020”
“‘It was hard to even watch my little brother play basketball because I was so emotional. I just wanted to be out there and playing the game I love.”
Serena moved back to SA to be surrounded by her loving family. Her mother, Megan Waters, who works at AFL SportsReady as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mentor, gave her the encouragement and advice she needed to hear.
“Mum kept telling me, if you can get through the next 12 months, you can get through anything.”
“It was some of the best advice I got.”
“I truly believe that this was the most challenging period of my life but I knew with the right attitude I would come out of this physically and mentally stronger.”
To aid in her recovery, Megan suggested for Serena to take on a traineeship with the Commonwealth bank in Kilkenny, Adelaide, while studying a Certificate III in Business. At the same time Serena is able to complete her year 12 studies by correspondence.
“Mum gave me the idea because they were looking for someone who was confident and liked talking to people. It was the perfect role for me because I am a people’s person so customer service would be ideal.”
“I am two weeks into my traineeship and I absolutely love it. I didn’t think I would love working in a bank, but I honestly love everything about it.”
Serena works full-time in her traineeship, comes home to study for year 12 and at the same time is undertaking her rehab program.
“It sounds tricky, but it is not too bad once I get going.”
“The traineeship is a blessing for me, it’s taken my mind off the injury.
It has given me an opportunity to take a step out of basketball and sport in general and work with a really beautiful bunch of people who I am learning so much from.”
With her positive attitude, resilient spirit and passion for sport and life, Serena is an inspiration to young people who may be faced with hard times.
“I try to always see the positive and this injury has given me time to reflect on what I really want and care about.”
So, what is next for Serena?
“The plan is to fully recover then travel to the U.S either next year or 2021 and pursue my scholarship at one of the American colleges.”
“At the same time, I want to study journalism so when I retire from my career in basketball I can become a sports journalist. I would love to even work for the AFLW Women’s League.”
“I’m sure wherever life will take me, it will be awesome.”
DATE: 26th August 2019
AUTHOR: Marissa Pagliarello
IMAGE: Serena Waters heading to Melbourne for her AFL SportsReady traineeship induction.