From Waves To Wheels: Deanna Smith Joins The WNWBL
Former Opal and WNBL superstar Deanna Smith adds another achievement to her basketball career when she becomes the first player to slip on the singlet in both the WNBL and the Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball League (WNWBL) this weekend for Perth’s Womens Wheelchair Basketball team, the ‘Be Active’ Western Stars.
Smith has played almost 250 WNBL games over her 13 year career, but only managed six games for the West Coast Waves last season with a severe foot injury halting the feisty guard.
This weekend the veteran hits the court again, but in the Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball League, when she debuts for the ‘Be Active’ Western Stars in Sydney for a four game road trip,as one of the team’s able bodied players.
“It’s really funny, I’m so nervous,” Smith admitted.
“I’m completely out of my comfort zone. I can read the game, but I’m thinking, where do I go and how do I move the chair. I’ve still got a lot to learn. I think four games in a weekend is going to be tough but I’m excited and it’s a great bunch of girls and the atmosphere is really good and positive so I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.
Smith’s experience becomes second best in the Stars with four Paralympians lining up in the team. Sarah Vinci, Clare Nott,Amber Merritt and veteran Mandy Bonavita are all part of the Perth side who finished third last season’s WNWBL.
Bonavita said the team are excited to have the West Coast Waves guard playing for them.
“She has half the battle won because she knows how to play basketball. The only battle she has is chair skills, it’s not like able bodied, but they will come for sure,” Bonavita said.
“She knows how to shoot, she just has to work out her range because you are lower, but she’s going to be great, I can’t wait and I’m looking forward to seeing her progression.”
Smith is still growing her confidence in the game, but said she has a lot to bring to the team.
With the quick transition into the WNWBL, Smith joked she is concerned about being the new kid in town
“I’ve gone from senior status to rookie status. I’m worried that come road trip time I’m going to be the one that carries the wheels or the balls or something like that, so it could possibly be a big change, but definitely up for the challenge,” she said.
The WNWBL permits able bodied players to compete in the league at the highest points classification, with no more than one able bodied player allowed on court at any one time.