What is your full name and where are you from?
My Name is Zoe Richards, I was born in Auckland and then moved to Dunedin when I was 4 years old.
Why did you choose the wonderful game of basketball?
Mum and Dad encouraged my twin sister and I to play different sports but I soon became envious of my twin sister going away on all her fun basketball trips while I was playing netball and involved in rhythmic gymnastics. Due to my sister already playing basketball my parents said that I really should ask her if it was okay first if I could play basketball too as being a twin my parents wanted us to have our own passion and not feel pressured to do everything together. That is why I had to ask her for her permission to play and thankfully she said yes and I have been playing ever since.
What schools did you attend? and what were your achievements and highlights?
I attended St Hilda’s Collegiate School in Dunedin, NZ and then went on to Gillette College (Junior College) in Wyoming for 1 and ½ years where I red shirted for the first 6 months and then played my Freshman season there. Then I moved to Eckerd College (Division 2) where I finished off my three years of College.
In my Freshman year I was named in the All Region IX Team and All-Tournament Team Region IX when I was playing for Gillette College.
In my Sophomore year I was named once for the SSC Player of the week for the conference, named once for the SSC Defensive Player of the week for the conference and also selected to the SSC All – Newcomer Team.
In my Junior year I received 2 SSC Defensive player of the week, named to the SCC All-Tournament Team and named Eckerd College Women’s Basketball MVP.
In my Senior year my highlight was when our Eckerd College Tritons team won the SSC Women’s Basketball Tournament. I also had some personal achievements as well; this being two time SSC Defensive Player of the week, named to the SCC All Second Team, named Program Record 56.7 career FG % and receiving the James R. Harley award – the highest honour an athlete can obtain at Eckerd College
You are a role model for young women, what advice do you have for them getting into basketball?
Always give your very best effort no matter what and put in the extra time to develop your game. The journey is not going to be easy and there will be bumps in the road but never give up, remember why you love the game and show that passion and heart on the court.
What has been the ultimate highlight so far in your career?
Getting the call up for the Tall Ferns a week out before their tour in Japan and Taiwin in 2019. I was extremely grateful for this amazing opportunity. My second highlight would be winning the SCC Conference Tournament in 2020. It was an amazing final season with my college team, finishing on top was something that we worked so hard for and winning the championship was so rewarding.
Who has been your biggest influence in basketball and why?
The people who have been my biggest influence in basketball is Casey Lockwood and Mark Dickle. Casey is a former Tall Fern who coached me when I first started taking basketball seriously and I always wanted to be a Tall Fern just like her. Mark Dickle also coached me in my teenage years, especially early in the morning when he ran a Basketball Academy in Dunedin. He encouraged me to work hard and to never give up, that there is a pathway to play College Basketball and have your academics paid for while playing the sport that I loved. He pushed me to become a better player and showed me the level of commitment that I needed to make if I wanted to take basketball to the next level.
Where do you see women’s basketball in the next five years?
Women’s basketball is developing so much in New Zealand. It is great to see a stronger and growing pathway for younger female players to come through and I am looking forward to the rest of the 2020 season and what the future holds for Women’s Basketball in New Zealand.
Who is the ultimate women’s basketball player in New Zealand?
For me the ultimate player is Micaela Cocks, she inspires me so much by the way she plays, her personality and the knowledge that she has for the game. It was so awesome to have been on tour with her in 2019 with the Tall Ferns as a younger player when we travelled to Japan and Taiwan, I learned so much from her.
In terms of your playing career, what would be the pinnacle for you?
Being able to put the black and white jersey on and feeling so honoured and proud to be representing my country. It has always been a dream of mine to be a Tall Fern.
You are playing in the Showcase on August 1st, are you excited to be a part of this?
I am extremely excited to be playing with the best women basketball players in the county. To also have the exposure with the game being broadcasted live is something that is very exciting for women’s basketball in New Zealand.