For the first 14 years of my childhood, I grew up on the Isle of Islay, an island off the West Coast of Scotland. It was a rural community with a total population of 3,500 people. There was only one high school on the island and I was the only manual wheelchair user in the school.
Despite no access to sport, I was a very happy child growing up and loved having my family and close friends around me. I only see my friends from Islay now and again, but I will always remain loyal to them being there to support me through thick and thin and I miss and love them dearly for it. One thing that was an issue living on Islay was the lack of accessible public transport available, I often had to rely on my parents to help me get about and to see people.
In December 2012, I moved with my mum, brother and sister to Carlisle. A month after we moved, my mum suggested that I become more active as I was never a sporty child growing up. She found the contact details online of the local wheelchair basketball club, Carlisle Panthers. This enabled me to access disability sport for the first time.
I started regularly attending sessions and really enjoyed it, wheelchair basketball opened a whole new world that I never knew existed and I loved it; I thought it was the most amazing thing in the world. About a year into my playing career; the team manager for the club suggested I trial out for the Scotland under 19 squad due to my Scottish heritage and dual national eligibility.
I attended the trials and was the most inexperienced player there by far, however, I managed to achieve reserve status and eventually I was called up to play my first National Junior Championships in 2014.
After the competition experience, my passion for wheelchair basketball started to kick in as I regularly scheduled in gym and shooting sessions after college, by doing this it enabled me to maintain my selection for the squad for the next three years, including this year which is my final year in the under 19 squad.
I believe that if it wasn’t for wheelchair basketball I wouldn’t be studying at university and living independently; wheelchair basketball gave me the drive to attend the University of Worcester, studying Journalism.
Wheelchair basketball has also massively increased my independence. When I was younger, I was never independent of my family but wheelchair basketball has helped me become more independent. For example, I regularly get about on trains travelling long distances from Worcester to Glasgow sometimes with my day chair and sports chair, I believe I wouldn’t be as independent as I am now if it wasn’t for wheelchair basketball.
I am passionate about writing articles. Through the help of my Scotland coach; Tina Gordon, I was put into contact with Stephanie Gagne, who is the marketing and communications officer for the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF.) I now regularly write articles for IWBF and really enjoy it, I find it amazing and surreal that a kid who grew up on a small island is now writing articles for the biggest wheelchair basketball organisation in the world.
This was my first blog for RAW Coaching and I hoped you enjoyed reading it, I look forward to writing many more blogs for the website.