Amelia Swann is reminded all the time about the similarities between her and Hawke's Bay's Tall Ferns basketball forward Josie Stockill.
"I've met Josie, I've had a photo with her, I did a school project on her when I was in Year 6 and I want to follow a similar path. I even want to go to Colgate University on a basketball scholarship like she did," Napier Girls' High School Year 9 student Swann said last night.
If Swann, 13, continues to progress as she has in recent years it will only be a matter of time before she is emailing academic records and video footage of highlight packages off to Colgate.
Earlier this month the Hawke's Bay under-15 rep was the sole Bay player in the New Zealand under-14 team which won their division with an unbeaten run in nine games at the 618-team Nunawading Spectres Tournament in Melbourne, an event promoted as the Australian club championships.
"The New Zealand team of 10 was selected from a squad of 80 of us who attended the under-14 National Talent Development Camp in April. I wasn't expecting to make the top 10 and just being part of the 80 was a plus for me. I was gobsmacked when I was told I was in the top 10 for what turned out to be the highlight of my time in basketball so far," Swann recalled.
She was a starting five member of the national team which won their last pool game by two points after trailing by two to qualify for the semifinals and walloped Sandringham Sabres 49-19 in their final.
Proud mum Lisa pointed out it was a huge achievement considering Swann's reluctant start as a 9-year-old in the code at Port Ahuriri School, another of Stockill's former educational institutions.
"Yes Aidan had to work really hard on me to play. He wanted me because of my height but I didn't want to play basketball back then because my older brother Luke was playing," Swann said.
The 1.67m centre who has always been 12-15cm taller than others in her age age group since her kindergarten days is grateful for the coaching she has received from the likes of Daly, his sister and former Hawks mentor Kirstin Daly-Taylor and former Hawke's Bay rep Carley Hewitt, who was the assistant coach of her New Zealand team in Aussie, over the years.
"I've got the height, agility and some natural athleticism. But it's the coaching I've had which has given me the edge ... I've been lucky to have Kirstin, a former Tall Fern, giving me tips for the last five years," Swann said.
Second assistant Hawks coach Kane Hokianga coaches her Hawke's Bay under-15 team which will attend next month's nationals in Dunedin and former Hawks assistant coach Shane Brown coaches her NGHS senior team so she will only continue to be surrounded by top quality coaching.
There was further evidence of the benefits of that coaching when Swann gained tournament team selection after her Hawke's Bay under-13 team won their Central Region tournament for the second consecutive year last year.
She was co-captain of the team for the second consecutive year and a third-year member of the squad.
Although the Hawke's Bay under-15 team finished second at their recent regionals Swann said Melika Samia, a New Zealand under-16 rep in Melbourne for a team which had Hawke's Bay stalwart Suzie Hiha as an assistant coach, wasn't available for the tournament and she is predicting a top four finish from a full-strength Bay team in Dunedin.
"I know a lot of the girls from the under-14 and under-16 teams in Melbourne who will be in Dunedin so I know what to expect. I'm hoping to play well enough in Dunedin so I can be considered for next year's New Zealand under-16 team ... it would be good to go back to Aussie again," Swann said.
In addition to playing for her school's senior team Swann plays for the NGHS 9A team. She also plays netball for the school's Junior A team and for the Taradale club.
Another string to former Tamatea Intermediate School student Swann's basketball bow is her knowledge of the rules. She has been a basketball referee since 2014.
Once again she has benefitted from quality coaching in this department with former top New Zealand NBL referee Donnette Daly her mentor.
"Refereeing is a good source of pocket money. Although I haven't had much time for it lately with all my other commitments."
It's no secret Swann and the Samia sisters, Melika and Rosalia, have been identified as future Tall Ferns. It's just a matter of which one of the trio will get there first.
"I don't mind when I get there ... so long as it happens," Swann said.
While the scholarship is her main long-term goal she has a career as a physio on her bucket list also.
A pretty good choice because if she doesn't make the Tall Ferns as a player there is always the possibility of a trip or two as the team physio.