HAMILTON basketballer Amy Lewis has set her sights on one day playing in Europe.
Lewis, 28, last night received recognition for her career at the elite level when she won South West Sport’s chairperson’s award for 2013.
The award celebrates athletes who grew up in the south-west but moved elsewhere to pursue their careers and dreams.
Lewis has played with WNBL clubs Adelaide Lightning and Townsville Fire since finishing a distinguished United States college career in 2008.
She has also represented Australia at junior level and won a bronze medal at the World University Games in Belgrade in 2009.
The 177-centimetre guard was in Adelaide last night and unable to attend the awards ceremony but was represented by her father Roger.
She told The Standard she was pleased an award recognised “country kids” who reached the big time, but believed Roger deserved the credit.
“He’s the one that drove me everywhere. I played in Melbourne for three years, that’s three-and-a-half hours to Eltham on a Friday night,” she said.
“We’d be gone on weekends and he’d worked during the week. He probably deserves it more than me. I could at least sleep in the car.”
Lewis, a physical education teacher, said she was in the process of negotiating a new contract with the Lightning, where she has played since 2011.
But she was also contemplating a move to Europe — potentially France or Spain — to gain experience and see more of the world.
“Most likely I’ll stay in Adelaide. I love it here. But my other option is to go to Europe and try and get a game over there,” she said.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet. I do have the travel bug a little bit. I would like to go play in Europe if I can.”
Her journey to the WNBL started more than a decade ago, when she was an enterprising teenager torn between her love for basketball and netball.
She chose basketball and soon started to reap the rewards of her hard work as state junior selectors came calling.
“I remember making that choice and it was really difficult. I loved netball as much as basketball but I was probably better at basketball,” she said.
“The type of player I am at basketball, I like to run and transition. It was the whole open court. I could run wherever I wanted as opposed to being restricted in netball.”
Her next step was to play in the American college system, with NCAA top-division side Troy University, based in Alabama.
Lewis remains the fourth-highest scorer in Troy history, having dropped 1586 points during a four-year stint.
“I grew up a lot over there. I was only 18, I had to become pretty independent quickly and that was good for me as a person,” she said.
Lewis has honed her craft in the WNBL the past six seasons. She spent three campaigns with the Fire upon returning to Australia before joining the Lightning.
She was also a part of an Australian Opals training camp and toured China last year but is not confident of her chances to play at the 2016 Olympics.
“While Rio is definitely a goal, realistically it’d be very tough to crack that squad. There are so many girls around that are amazing,” she said.
“Unless I have a couple of really good seasons, I can’t see myself making it. I always seem to be just off the radar.
“But it’s definitely a goal and you never know what could happen with injury, people could not play for whatever reason and it opens a position.”