Absolutely Ausome

At the age of 15, basketball-loving Phoebe McShane realised that there were no basketball programs designed specifically for people on the Autism spectrum, including her younger brother – and that was a huge barrier for many people getting involved in the sport. Phoebe decided to take things into her own hands, and only three years later, is now the Founder and Director of Ausome Hoops. Here more from this inspiring young leader:

Tell us a little about yourself 

I started playing basketball when I was 9 years old with some friends from primary school, and when I was 12, I represented my local club, the Mornington Breakers. I absolutely loved basketball but wasn't the best at it, so I asked Mornington Basketball if I could start coaching at some of their grassroots programs. I started coaching each Wednesday afternoon at a program called Ground BreakHERS, which is a development program for girls. I found a new love for basketball in coaching and was offered an assistant coach position within the Under 12 Girls representative program for Mornington Breakers and decided to pursue coaching instead of playing.

I graduated high school in 2021 and decided to take a gap year to focus on growing Ausome Hoops and having a break after 13 years of school (with my final year in lockdown VCE!). I am now Head Coach of a representative Team for the Breakers, and have recently been fortunate to be involved in some of Basketball Victoria's High Performance programs for Under 12 and 14 athletes.

Tell us about Ausome Hoops

Ausome Hoops is a basketball program specifically designed for young people on the Autism spectrum. Ausome Hoops provides a safe and inclusive space where young people can learn new basketball skills, get active and make new friends in a supportive and judgement free environment that may not be present in mainstream programs.

In 2019 at the age of 15, I set up a meeting with the General Manager of Mornington Basketball to pitch an Autism-specific basketball program, which was the first of its kind. In July 2019, Ausome Hoops ran its first camp in the school holidays, and we welcomed 28 young people aged 5-16 for a day filled with fun. After the camp, all the participants left with a huge smile on their face, and some long-lasting friendships were born too.

Since 2019, we have set up a weekly program that runs on a Sunday morning at Mornington Basketball, along with camps each school holidays. We have begun looking at expanding to other areas around Melbourne, and hope to have a couple more programs set up within the next 12 months.

What made you start this program?

My younger brother is on the Autism Spectrum and was diagnosed when he was 4, and had always struggled to find a sport he loved and wanted to continue to participate in. For me, it had always been basketball (and a bit of swimming and netball too), and I really wanted him to play basketball, but there wasn't anything suitable for his needs.

I didn't quite understand his needs when I was younger, and mum and dad used to tell me that 'his brain just works a little differently to mine'. For my brother, we found that there was a huge lack of knowledge and understanding of his individual needs from the coaches and his peers, and it created a barrier to accessing programs.

When I was thinking about creating a program for young people on the spectrum, I did some research and found that whilst there were plenty of All-Abilities programs offered around Melbourne, there wasn't a program just for young people with ASD, making Ausome Hoops the first of its kind. Our team of coaches and staff is composed of both junior and senior basketball players, teachers’ aides, ABA therapists and many more! I think the reason our program has worked so well is because all our coaches and staff have some sort of personal connection to Autism. Whether it be a sibling/child/relative is on the spectrum, their parents are integration aides, or are even on the spectrum themselves. I have had the same team since our first camp in 2019 and couldn't ask for a better bunch of people to have alongside me.

How important is diversity and inclusion in sport?

I strongly believe that everyone should have the same opportunity to access the sport they would like to try, and there should be programs for everyone. A major part of Ausome Hoops is not only the participants getting active, but the social aspects of joining a sport, especially a team sport such as basketball. We have had so many friendships born from Ausome Hoops, participants having 'play-dates' and going to birthday parties.

Not only has it been fantastic to see the participants socialize with each other, but it provides a space for parents to be able to talk with others who have similar experiences to them, which is much harder in mainstream programs. Our team of staff not only includes basketball players, but we also employ young people who are on the spectrum themselves to give back to the community and get involved.

How can someone get involved in Ausome Hoops?

There are so many different ways to be involved in Ausome Hoops! You can check out our programs and camps on our website at www.ausomehoops.com.au, we are always trying to figure out where to take our program next! If you think we should join your association, send us a message through our Instagram or Facebook @ausomehoops. If you'd like to join our team, send us a message, we are always looking for more superstars to join our crew!

Wednesday 24 August, 2022

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