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It was hard at the start. I had this calendar. At the time I was living with June Bothwell, who was the past president of Netball Queensland, and she had no idea what to cook for me, how to communicate with me, or anything.

 

It was kind of like having a new child and trying to see what works. I remember telling June that ?my mum says all I can eat is chicken, corn and mash’, so that was my daily diet for six or seven months until I went back home.

 

I remember times where I was trying to tick off the calendar and it felt like it was taking two days longer than it usually did to get to the end of the week. So I had to ditch the calendar because it was all taking too long.

 

Day in and day out, I was crying. I remember my friend Tamsin Greenway would ring me up and say, ?what are you doing?’ I’d be like ?nothing!’ So she’d be like ?are you crying? I’m coming to get you’. But I?d say, ?I don’t want to go anywhere, I just want to go home’. 

 

But even though I was so homesick, when I rang Mum, she told me ?you’ve just got to tough it out. You chose to do this. Get outside. Go and do stuff’. And I’m like ?it’s not that easy’. Leaving home and moving away at such a young age, it was a different dynamic for me.

 

I think Mum’s pretty happy that she reminded me this is what I wanted to do. When I left Jamaica, my mum and dad were in the process of separating, so my sister left home, then I was leaving home and then my brother left, so it was kind of like she was left by herself, so as much as it was hard for her to let us all go, she knew it was something she had to do at some stage. She was like ?go, but come back!’.

 

And this was a way out to at least one of us earning money and helping pay the bills and helping look after her. My Mum’s diabetic and she was so sick, to the point where no-one wanted to tell me what was happening, and that was really hard - because being so far away from her you can’t really do much.

 

It broke my heart but she was like ?you do what you need to do, focus on your game, go out there and make me proud’, and I guess that’s where my drive and determination comes from; it’s not showing a sign of weakness, but doing what you need to do to be successful, and I guess she drove that from day one.

 

It was such a big change, though. I’d never heard the word ?steak’, so when we went out, I didn’t know that was beef.

 

The green man at the traffic lights, I still do laugh about that. At home, let’s be honest, no-one really followed the road rules, so that wasn’t really a thing, and I remember walking in the city with Tamsin, trying to cross the road, and she was like ?no, you’ve got to wait for the green man’. I was like ?what green man?’ I was just totally oblivious to it all.

 

I’ll be playing my 160th game for the Firebirds in round one. I didn’t know that.

 

To be honest, I never saw myself playing past the first year I came here. I thought I was too skinny. I couldn’t keep up with the pace of netball because it was very different. I’ve evolved a lot since then, as a player and as a person.

 

 

 

He’s out of jail now

I was the victim of cyber-stalking and blackmail a few years ago.

 

Thinking about it now, I was blindsided. Having been here so long and not having a partner at the time I was looking - and for something like that to happen, it makes you very hesitant and hard to trust anyone.

 

So it was a bit of an eye-opener, but you live and you learn, and everyone makes mistakes. It’s just how many times you make them.

 

I am proud that by speaking out I feel I raised awareness about the dangers of social media. It can make you, or it can break you, so you’ve got to keep an eye open but not take too much notice of pictures and what people are saying about you on those platforms.

 

I shut down my social media accounts for a long time. I am back on it now. It didn’t stop me! But I am very cautious. It’s a place where trolls can break you down, but I am very smart in the way I use my Instagram and Facebook now.

 

I look through everything to see if there’s anything negative being said about me, or anything sexist, and I make sure I keep a close eye on any photos I’m tagged in, so that I’m not being tagged into random stuff.

 

For something like that to happen, it makes you very hesitant and hard to trust anyone.

 

Most of my followers are between the age of 12 and 20, so I want to make sure that what they’re seeing is real, and not fake or something else. 

 

I have my moments where I do trust and when I don’t. But I think that’s something that will forever be in the back of your mind. 

 

Brisbane’s a very small place. 

 

He’s out of jail now, and I still do wonder if I’ll run into him or if he’s watching me. I’m like ?don’t come at me, please’. I’m not scared, but I am very aware of my surroundings: of where I go, who I hang out with and the environment I’m in. 

 

I have to make sure, just for my own safety.

 

 

 

CROWDS STILL FREAK ME OUT

Am I a big star in Brisbane? I hope I am! 

 

Let’s be honest: 15 years ago this was not a thing. I love being part of something so amazing, and having people talk about how good your skills are. But also, off the court, about what a great person you are.

 

I want to leave the game in a good place and know that I contributed, and gave something positive to the sport, that there was a legacy I left behind.

 

I hope people see me as a cool kid. I want to be open, as well. I don’t want to be that cold-shouldered athlete who people don’t feel they can say hello to. I want people to come and say hi. I want people to say ?man, she’s so welcoming’.

 

I don’t want people to be scared because I’m an athlete. I’m a person before I’m an athlete.

 

I’ve never really been tempted to leave the Firebirds. I’ve had thoughts about it, but then when I look back on everything that I’ve been through as the person before the athlete, I can’t just get up and walk away.

 

It would be like walking away from your family. They’ve done so much for me, and it took me so long to get settled that I don’t see the point in getting up to go somewhere else.

 

I said a few years ago that I was 40 per cent Australian. I think I’m probably 80 per cent now.

 

I’m not shy any more. You’ve got to pay me to shut up! I feel like over the years I’ve gained so much more self-confidence. Crowds still do freak me out but I think I’m getting better at what I’m doing. At everything.

 

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