From the pool, to the classroom and onto the court, Brydens Sydney Uni Flames Centre, Lara McSpadden has worked hard to find balance juggling all three commitments. Her positive attitude and determination are key components to her success at such a young age.
Lara left her home town of Newcastle at the age of 16 to attend the Australian Institute of Sport. She enjoyed living in Canberra and the freedom and independence that came with it, along with being able to improve her basketball skills while finishing high school. “Living in a place where Australian basketball legends previously lived and trained gave me a constant thrill and appreciation for the opportunities I’ve worked for,” she said.
Whilst at the Institute, Lara was a member of the World Championship winning Australian U/19 Sapphires team. Impressing the coaching staff at the Brydens Sydney Uni Flames, upon leaving the AIS, Lara joined the Flames as the youngest member of their 2016/17 roster. Enjoying the opportunity to learn from her teammates and live close to home, Lara has just signed on for her third season with the Sydney based team.
“The thing I love most about being a part of the Flames program is constantly learning from high calibre athletes I get to call my teammates. There are a few ladies in my team who have played in the places where I would love to take my basketball journey to…Europe, the WNBA and for the Australian Opals. This gives me the chance to ask them questions and get advice from them that could prepare me for the future!”
Many know of Lara’s on court ability however, few know of the positive impact she is making off the court. Lara is an accredited Austswim teacher and has been working at Sydney Uni Swim School for almost a year. “I love introducing people to the water and seeing people achieve things they never thought they could do,” McSpadden said of her work.
As a swim instructor, she was a key member of Sydney University’s inaugural Water Safe Program where students who had no or limited experience with the water were able to learn basic water, stroke and survival skills. “Being able to teach them how to become comfortable in the water, whilst teaching them survival skills, has brought out my love for swimming again! It doesn’t even feel like work because I love it so much!”
Along with work Lara is currently studying a Bachelor of Primary Education at the Australian Catholic University, but is in the process of transferring to Sydney University to study a Bachelor of Secondary Education PDHPE with a minor in mathematics. “I’ve worked really hard for the past two years to get to a stage where I can be in the best position possible to transfer into the course I’ve wanted to do since I can remember at one of the most respected universities in the world.”
When asked how she juggles work, university and basketball commitments, effective time management and finding a balance have been crucial factors. “Life can get pretty hectic, but I have found the balance between my sport, work and uni that allows me to enjoy one of them as much as the others. Managing and utilising time has been a massive factor in maintaining good grades, sporting drive and a passion for my work.”
Currently, Lara is having an outstanding season with the Southern Design Sydney Uni Sparks in the South East Australian Basketball League where she is averaging 12.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.