BETHANY Macdonald from Harrington has earned a place in the Hunter Academy of Sport's basketball program for 2016, despite missing out on the first round of trials.
The 12-year-old was identified by the academy but was unable to make it to Newcastle for the opening round. However, a representative contacted Bethany's mum, asking if she was available for the second. The third was invitation only, and Bethany was one of those chosen. There were initially 143 candidates. Bethany was one of the 11 girls and 14 boys who made the final cut.
She is the Manning River Times-Iguana Sportstar of the Week, winning a $50 open order at Iguana.
Bethany will now attend orientation day in Newcastle next month. She's not sure of what the program will be for 2016, but understands it will involve one or two sessions a week training in Newcastle along with further requirements on selected weekends. But she's looking forward to it because all things basketball dominates her life.
Originally from Tasmania, Bethany followed her brother into the sport about five years ago, although she added that there weren't a lot of other sporting options for girls on the Apple Isle.
Her family moved to Harrington two years ago and Bethany immediately became immersed in the Taree Tornadoes junior program.
A point guard, Bethany was a member of the Taree under 14 side that made it to the finals of the Northern NSW Junior League this year. The squad is currently in training for the Coast2Coast tournament to be played in Port Macquarie next weekend.
She was also selected to take part in a Country Jamboree in 2014 but was unable to attend this year's event.
Bethany currently plays in the Taree school competition on Saturdays along with the juniors on Tuesday afternoon. She then stays around for the women's matches on Tuesday evenings.
Bethany enjoys the team aspect of basketball.
"It's fun and everyone can play,'' she reasons.
Even though it will require a deal of travel, Bethany is looking forward to linking with the Hunter Academy.
Her long term goal is to get a scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and she hopes the academy will help clear a path.