What is your full name and where are you from?
Jacinta Beckley, and I am from Paraparaumu, Wellington.
Why did you choose the game of basketball?
My Mum played basketball so my first ever experience playing was with her in her women’s team and then I started getting into it in High School.
What schools did you attend? and what were your achievements and highlights?
I went to Paraparaumu College, and then to Seattle University. My high school team didn’t make prems, but we won division 1. We won conference for the first time in school history at Seattle U in my senior year (2018). We lost in the first round of NCAA against University of Oregon, but it was such a cool experience playing in front of a huge crowd and against some big time players. That was an atmosphere I’ll never forget.
You are a role model for young women, what advice do you have for them getting into basketball?
Don’t forget to have fun, if basketball is your passion then just enjoy every second of it and enjoy the grind. Good things take time, so if you put in the work and want to get better then you will find yourself improving 1% every day and that is all you can ask for. Also don’t be afraid to get out there and train or play with the guys, if you can hang with them on court then you’ll be able to do all of that plus more against women too.
What has been the ultimate highlight so far in your career?
Probably winning the WAC with SU, and winning the William Jones Cup with the Tall Ferns in 2018. But also signing my first pro contract. I never thought I would make it pro, so after signing to go play first division in Hungary and then playing against WNBA players during that season, that was an awesome experience.
Who has been your biggest influence in basketball and why?
I’ve been lucky to be blessed with some amazing family and friends who have supported me throughout my whole basketball journey. I think that Nars Martinez, who was my skills trainer while I was at SU, was my biggest influence. We worked out together 6 days a week for almost 2 years. He helped me improve immensely both physically and mentally, and I wouldn’t be where I am right now without him.
Where do you see women’s basketball in the next five years?
Basketball is growing in popularity in schools which is super exciting for the game, so seeing more girls participating and competing in the competitions throughout New Zealand, but also hopefully one day there will be a NZ team in the WNBL. In terms of professional basketball in NZ, there isn’t really anything so having a Breakers equivalent for women would be awesome. The tall ferns will hopefully qualify for the 2022 World Cup and 2024 Olympics too.
Who is the ultimate women’s basketball player in New Zealand?
New Zealand has had a lot of talented women come out and represent our country at the highest level whether that be in the states at college, in Europe, or Australia. But the most exciting thing for me is seeing the girls that I grew up playing with and against make it. Just to name a few, Stella Beck, Penina Davidson, and Kalani Purcell have all had great college careers and are now dominating in the WNBL.
In terms of your playing career, what would be the pinnacle for you?
I think every kid dreams of going to the Olympics, so that would be the ultimate pinnacle right there.
What’s the best pair of basketball shoes you have owned?
I loved the Kobe’s we got in college, I think they were Kobe 8’s, I had them in two colour ways and wore them until they fell apart. But also my Kobe 4’s. So basically all the Kobe’s I have worn haha.
You played in the Showcase on August 1st, what was it like to be a part of that experience?
That was a really cool experience, it was so much fun, and it came at such a crucial time for the women and girls of NZ. Especially during a pandemic when sport is trying to get back up and running. I think that this was a great way to show case some of the talent in New Zealand and hopefully inspire some young girls to pursue a career in basketball in the future.
If you have one piece of advice for your younger self, what would it be?
Just believe in yourself. You might have people who doubt you or hate on you, but the only person who can actually stop you from achieving your goals and dreams is you. So just have fun, and do your thing.