On June 3rd Basketball SA is hosting a Women’s Round to celebrate the incredible and strong women in our sport, and Jocelyn Neumueller may well be the definition of incredible and strong.
Born in 1995, the 21-year old from Victor Harbour has faced more adversary than most people could ever imagine in a life time. Jocelyn was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease resulting in partial paralysis in her lower limbs which saw her need to adjust to life in a wheelchair. Prior to her diagnosis, Jocelyn played football, basketball and badminton, and she also competed nationally in sailing.
Jocelyn was told that she would have to give up both sport and school, of which would basically succumb her to isolation from the things she loved most. Fuelled by her passion for sports and strong personal drive, the young athlete did not let a doctor’s diagnosis stop her from living the life she grew up loving.
“I think when people say that I cannot do something, it just fires my motivation even more to achieve.”
And achieve she did. During her rehabilitation following her diagnosis, Jocelyn began participating in wheelchair basketball.
“For me, basketball has had a major impact in my life.”
“It was that first time I no longer felt like I was being kept in cotton wool or bubble wrap since getting sick, and it was that spark that reignited my love for sport… ”
Her hard work and can-do attitude saw Jocelyn excel in the sport, landing her a position in the recently resurrected Adelaide Thunder basketball team.
“Being part of the new Adelaide Thunder squad for me is an incredible opportunity that I am fortunate to have.”
“The opportunity to train alongside, and learn from some of the greats in the sport like David Gould and Jay Dohnt is invaluable.”
Jocelyn is not the only one who is enjoying her presence around the Adelaide Thunder’s new home court at the Port Adelaide Recreation Centre.
Adelaide Thunder Captain, Adam Roocke says that Jocelyn epitomizes the term ‘overcoming adversity’ and praises her on being “a great role model for not only females with a disability, but the entire disabled community.”
“Jocelyn has a very intricate and complex disability and without understanding that fully, it’s hard for people to comprehend and appreciate what she has achieved and is continuing to accomplish.”
“As the captain of the Adelaide Thunder, I have been amazed to see how quickly she has developed her skills as a player in such a short period of time.”
It was only a short eight months ago that Jocelyn began training with the Adelaide Thunder squad. Since then she has scored herself an invitation to try out for the Australian Gliders, the Australian Women's national wheelchair basketball team.
“Her thirst for sports and competition along with her drive to be the best at everything she does really proves that opportunity and pathways in SA need to be provided so that others with disabilities are not ‘lost in the woodwork’ and are given the chance to achieve their dreams and aspirations.”
Thanks to the generous donation from the West End Community Fund, and the constant support of the DRSSA, the Adelaide Thunder are able to return to the national court where they belong for the 2017 NWBL season.
Jocelyn’s ability to defy all odds was not limited to the sport of basketball. Having grown up on the coast, Jocelyn has always enjoyed a soft spot for the ocean. Couple this with her love of sports and it should come as no surprise that upon her diagnosis, Jocelyn pursued a water sport also.
In a matter of months from starting the sport, Jocelyn travelled to Perth for her first Canoe Sprint National Championships where she won her classification, was selected with the Australian Paracanoe Team ahead of the World Championships in Germany, qualified for the 2016 Rio Paralympics, and managed to come home with 5th place in the final with ‘The Adaptables’.
The achievements don’t stop there. Jocelyn also finds time amongst her busy sporting schedule to study a Bachelor of Medical Science with a major in immunology research.
“… my rare diagnosis gave me a passion of medical research, and a will to not only find a cure for some of my own conditions, but also those that impact others.”
Furthermore, Jocelyn shares her story with the community by engaging with others through community and school talks regularly with the hope to inspire and encourage people to get involved more with society in any way they can.
Looking to the future Jocelyn has her sights set on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, but for now she is focused on helping the Adelaide Thunder successfully return to the NBWL and secure the Championship for 2017.
“I guess for me the ultimate goal in both sports would be achieving a podium position at a Paralympics, while still having as much fun doing what I love as I do now.”
“I think the ability to inspire others while doing what I love is great. The more people that get involved within their community, especially in sport, the better!”
This inspiring young lady has managed to push through the struggles that surround her day-to-day life to ensure that she is able to live the life that she loves. Basketball SA would like to commend Jocelyn on her amazing strength and her inspiring contribution to our sport.
The Adelaide Thunder will play in their first home game of the 2017 NWBL season this Saturday, June 3 at the Port Adelaide Recreation Centre. The match will also be live streamed in collaboration with Austral Sports Media via the Adelaide Thunder Facebook page.