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WNBA Los Angeles Sparks Rookie Amy Atwell

This week I had the chance to talk to our first ever Perth woman to be drafted into the WNBA! Amy Atwell was recently selected by the Los Angeles Sparks at pick number 27 in the WNBA draft, and has played some amazing basketball already since joining the squad. It's a huge milestone Amy has achieved that will now and forever inspire the younger generation of female basketball players in Western Australia. In the past six years Amy has been part of the University of Hawaii basketball program, an era where she had great success on the court but not without having to overcome injury and the challenges of a pandemic. Amy did an amazing job of overcoming multiple knee injuries and surgeries, to go on to be awarded the Big West Conference Player of the Year, win the Big West Championship, break the colleges all time three point record and many more amazing achievements! So exciting to now be able to follow Amy's continual growth and enjoyment while she helps her LA Sparks in the 2022 WNBA season ahead. Enjoy the short Q&A below!

Amy Atwell, No.27 pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks

First Western Australian in history to be drafted into the WNBA. Wow, that is massive, not just for you but for every single young girl in Perth who now knows that their dream can become a reality if they do what it takes! Tell us about how it felt to hear your name called out on draft night and to be picked 27th by the Los Angeles Sparks?

"It was an awesome feeling that’s for sure! It was very surreal and in the moment I was kind of just in shock. To have all of my childhood dreams and everything I had been working hard for over the last few years pay off in that moment was an unbelievable feeling. I just hope I can be a great role model to young girls and pave the way for them, starting by showing them that crazy dreams can come true."

You are also now just the second woman to be drafted into the WNBA out of University of Hawaii, you are the first there to be crowned Big West Conference player of the year, you are the programs three point record holder and the list goes on. What does it mean to you to now represent your school and how does it feel to have created so much history there for the legacy of their women's basketball program?

"It means so much to me to be able to continue to represent Hawaii. I was lucky enough to wear Hawaii across my chest for the past 6 years and it’s been an honour, something you can only truly understand if you have the privilege to do so. I've spent a good chunk of my life in Hawaii, so the people there are like my second family. I know I still have the whole island and state behind me, and I just hope I can represent the University and state well and make them proud."

Do you have a goal to represent the green and gold and play for the Australian Opals and if so, what would it mean to you to represent your country on the international stage?

"Oh yeah, I definitely do! That has been my biggest dream ever since I was a little girl and from the first moment I picked up a basketball. That has always been the pinnacle for me, to play for Australia, and hopefully that’s the next step in my career. That would mean a lot to me."

Those who have been following your basketball journey would know you’ve survived some real challenges in the past couple of years with injuries and a global pandemic. I am sure you hit some tough low points at those times, how have you handled each adversity as they’ve come?

"Yeah I think everything in life comes with ups and downs, highs and lows, and I faced my fair share at Hawaii that’s for sure. I personally think it’s all about how you face each challenge and the mindset you take going in. It is definitely easier said than done but I had great people and amazing staff around me at the University of Hawaii. My approach is to focus on handling things day by day, taking it as it comes and never looking too far into the future."

You grew up in Perth, you played junior basketball through the ranks here. Do you feel you have always been scouted/recruited and made the teams you were aiming for? Has there been any points in time you were overlooked for teams by coaches, not selected and been disappointed? If so, what kept you striving forward and focused on becoming your best regardless?

"Oh yeah definitely. I think it’s very rare that someone achieves everything they desire and set out to achieve, in the exact way and timing they had hoped. When I was younger and played for Western Australia at the national junior championships, I always wanted to receive an invite to an Australian camp across one of the age brackets, but I could never quite accomplish that goal. That definitely kept me hungry for more and it kind of gave me a chip on my shoulder, making me want to prove them wrong or regret not inviting me. I didn't carry the disappointment with me in a negative or aggressive manner, rather it served as fuel for my motivation. I have always strived to be the best I can be at anything I do, so I have that natural drive instilled in me."

What advice do you have for young girls just getting started with their junior basketball journey and have a dream to be drafted into the WNBA?

"Never give up and always remember to have fun! At some point we all face difficult times and lows, but it’s those moments that really define us. In my view the most important thing is to always remember to have fun no matter what you're doing. It is really easy to put a lot of time, energy and effort into something you love and enjoy doing, but if you don’t enjoy it and you aren’t having fun then the lows become longer and harder to get through."

Who is your favourite WNBA player/s still in the league and how do you think it will feel to share the same court with them? Secondly, who is your favourite WNBA player of all time and why?

"Ooh that’s a tough one. I didn’t really grow up watching the WNBA and really only just started following it in the last 4 to 5 years while in Hawaii. Obviously legends like Sue Bird and Diana Tuarasi are without doubt some of the greatest. There are many others but these two women have been in the league for so long and have accomplished so much in their decorated careers. Both Sue and Diana have been able to stay at the peak of the WNBA for so long and they still have plenty of basketball left in them as well, so admirable! Being able to share the court with them will definitely be an unreal experience and a "pinch me" moment. That being said, my favourite WNBA player of all time has to be Lauren Jackson, the legend of Australian Basketball."

What is your most favourite memory of basketball so far in your lifetime?

"Probably winning the Big West Championship this last season. That had been my goal my whole career at Hawaii and to finally win it in my last year there was so great."

If you didn’t have a career in sport, what career path would you most likely have followed otherwise?

"That’s a tough one to answer because I pretty much played every sport I could when I was younger and have just always loved sports. If I wasn't a professional athlete I feel like I would still be involved in sport, perhaps in management, in the office of a sporting club."

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would that be?

"To soak it in and live in the moment more! All we want as kids is to grow up and once we have grown up all we want is to be young again. I would tell my younger self to enjoy everything, the good and the bad, because before you know it you will be moving on."


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