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Aussie dunks competition

October 1, 2010

By Annie Hunter, News Editor

Bree Gleeson, a freshman from southern Australia, plays guard for the YHC Women's basketball team, or as she calls it the "netball" team. Photo by Jacob Stone

She is from a place home to kangaroos, Aborigines and the late crocodile hunter Steve Irwin; where cricket is not just an insect, but it is one of the most popular sports. This is a place where basketball is more of an afterthought than a major athletic event.  Bree Gleeson, a freshman guard for Young Harris College’s women’s basketball team, has left her home of Adelaide, South Australia to pursue her passion and show that basketball isn’t just a tradition in the United States anymore.

Gleeson’s success in basketball back home is undeniable.  She has a cabinet full of trophies, and her high school wants to name an award after her.

For Gleeson, however, all the awards and recognition lie in her past, a place she doesn’t look back on too often.  Her focus is on the present and how she can become a stronger player for the future.

“I’m the type of person that looks forward,” said Gleeson.  “I’ll see what I’ve got to do to get better instead of how good I am.”

The only trophy that means something to her is from when she played in the under 12 years-old division.  The “gold square thing,” as she calls it, reminds her of how far she can go if she fights hard enough.

“We were this little country team and we won the country state championship against a team that was just so much better than us,” Gleeson said.  “We just played our asses off to win and we won.  It’s just my favorite.  If I show anyone anything, it’s that one.”

It’s that same spirit that makes starting out fresh at Young Harris with a brand new basketball program exciting.  Gleeson and her teammates will make YHC history by playing the first basketball game in over 40 years.

Gleeson’s own start with basketball was met with less excitement.  She played hockey and netball as a young child.  Netball is one of Australia’s most popular women’s sports and is similar to basketball but with more restrictions on movement. It’s based on passing the ball from one player to another to score into a high net.

Once a player is in possession of the ball, she must stay grounded and is only allowed to pivot or pass.  Gleeson’s mother noticed that her daughter wanted to dribble and run with the ball and suggested she try basketball.

“No, all my friends are playing netball.  I love playing my netball. It’s good fun,” Gleeson replied to her mother.  “Then she took me out to a trial that our family friends were going to and the club wanted me to come play for them.  That’s where it started.  It took up after that and took over my life.”

Gleeson was 10 years old when she started playing and hasn’t slowed down since.

She has travelled all over the world for her sport, broadening her perspective and creating a passion for experiencing other cultures.  Gleeson plans to follow basketball where  it may take her.

She’s focused on getting her degree whether it is from an American school or from a university back in her native Australia.

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