Portlock determined to get back to her best after injury

AFTER excelling through the Big V program and ranks, Sarah Portlock is determined to remain an inspiration to the younger generation, in particular for the Hume City Broncos community.

The center recently represented Victoria in the 2024 Under-20 National Championships, in which her side won gold.

After competing in swimming throughout her junior years, Portlock’s passion for basketball first came out from the owner at Tullamarine Swimming School.

“She saw that I was tall and told my mum after swimming, I should be playing basketball, and I haven’t looked back since,” she told Rookie Me Central.

“I played for the Broncos and TLS Basketball for my whole junior career. When Tim, the coach of the Youth League team at the time asked if I wanted to train, I was stoked.

“I always enjoyed playing with the girls, even as a naturally quiet person I felt welcomed. It’s a real reflection of the community that we have at Hume City Basketball.”

Portlock said her injury setbacks while living interstate were tough at times, but praised the support networks that guided her through rehab.

“I know that it’s a similar story to lots of others but being at the Centre of Excellence, living away from home to get better at basketball hits you hard,” she said. “I think the silver lining of being injured though was that I was able to put more of my effort into the gym and ball handling and really making the most out of what you can do on the court.

“Injury is hard but a couple of things that helped me overcome it was knowing that I wasn’t alone, being in an environment where you can have as much support as you need, but also finding joy in the new things that you get to do like swimming and water running – I had never done water running before my injury.”

Portlock is now thriving against bigger bodies and more experienced players, but her gratitude for her opportunities has been constant.

“I wouldn’t say I am proud of my achievements, but more so grateful for all the opportunities I have had and all the people that have helped me along the way to help me get there,” she said.

Despite not knowing whether she’d be selected for the Under 20 Victorian Women’s team, her reaction was something else.

“I was really happy when Jo Wood (Victorian head coach) called me up to tell me that I made the state team,” she said. “Obviously it was a bit risky, we didn’t know how I was going to go coming back from injury. So I was really glad that I was given the opportunity to play, I definitely don’t take that lightly.”

Although she was coming off an injury and not playing as much minutes, Portlock embraced supporting her teammates on the sidelines by being around the team on their run to winning gold.

“To still able to play at Under 20’s nationals is something really grateful for, especially after seeing how rusty I was,” she said.

“Playing for your state is a great opportunity, and to do so in your own state was awesome. We had the home crowd cheering us on especially in the finals.

“It was so good to be able to play with such a talented bunch of girls, a bunch of great teammates on and off the court, all deserving of gold.”

Lastly, Portlock says whilst winning gold was an incredible achievement, Portlock admits she wants to achieve more in her personal game.

“Nationals was a really good indicator of where I am at currently, as I was quite rusty,” she said.

“But one aspect in particular that I want to improve on is my foot work on defence and being able to defend smaller players. I think that will really take my game to the next level.”

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