Natala Miller caught up with Stirling Senators import Janee Johnson;
Welcome to Perth and the SBL, how are you fitting in?
Thank you. I think Perth is an amazing place, especially considering this is my first time in this hemisphere of the world. I have to say is the experience of a lifetime. As for the SBL, it is a high intensity league, the women compete every night, so the standings don’t mean very much, any team can win on any given night, which is refreshing and keeps the league exciting.
What do you think of the SBL in just the few games you’ve played here?
The league is full of surprises. You check the standings and a number two team can drop to number 8 over the weekend. The support within the league is great as well. Definitely much different than some of the arenas I’ve seen and played in.
How do you find your Coach Glen Clarke? How do you feel his coaching can help develop your game?
Oh man, Glenn knows the game inside and out. He’s tremendously knowledgeable and his basketball IQ is evident as soon as you have a conversation with him. It’s is honestly one reason I chose to come play for him. He is the type of coach that can see the potential in a player and transform that into productivity. He really does know his stuff.
Tell me about your history with basketball? Where have you played?
Unfortunately, this is only my second season playing professionally due to injury. Prior to playing in Perth, I was playing in Lisbon, Portugal.
Have you always wanted to be a professional basketball player?
Honestly, I didn’t decide I wanted to play professional basketball until my final season in college. Each year I play I find it more difficult to acknowledge at some point won’t be able to do what I’m doing forever.
How do you find the Stirling Senators Community?
This club is truly something special. They are familial and warm, caring and exponentially genuine. Frankly, their energy during the games helps us careen through adverse moments on the court.
What have been some of the highlights of your basketball career so far?
Changing programs is an all-time highlight, when you can contribute to changing the history of a club or sports team is something that you can keep with you and cherish forever.
Who would you say is the most influential person in your basketball so far?
Both of my parents were highly influential in my basketball career. My dad was actually the first one to put a ball in my hands, which my mother will argue you down about, evidently in her mind she did. But that’s neither here nor there, point is, they both helped me blossom into the player and person that I am today.
How did you enjoy the SBL Blitz at the start of March? You had pretty much just arrived in Perth right before that right?
Yes, the blitz was the first weekend we arrived in Oz. It was my first overseas exposure since I had surgery on my ankle, and not to mention I was jetlagged for the first two weeks after arriving. It was, to the say the least, an experience.
How did you get into basketball?
On the weekends, my father would take me to the courts and teach me to shoot and how to complete a proper layup. I couldn’t leave the gym until I made full court layups. My mom WILL NOT recall that at all. That was when I was younger though, I didn’t start playing organized basketball until I was twelve, which was when my mom started coaching me.
If you saw a young basketball player with potential how would you go about encouraging them?
Oh wow, this is a great question. I’m tremendously passionate about player development. There is something about seeing an athlete grow that is so satisfying. When I see a player with potential, I typically try to have a conversation to gauge what their insecurities and/or weakness are, and encourage them to make those current weakness strengths. It really depends on where the player is mentally, there are some young kids that think they’re the next Michael Jordan, and they don’t need to work on their skills. With these types of personalities it’s important to give them a reality check. Michael didn’t just wake and up have basketball superpowers. What you put into the game is exactly what will be reciprocated as a result, just like anything in life. Basketball is a tool that teaches everyone real life lessons and it is a matter of effectively communicating that.
What are your interests outside of basketball?
Well, I’m passionate about learning and immersing myself in cultures outside of my own. I love learning. I actually mean I love learning. At one point in my life, I thought I was going to be a profession Uni student because I love exposing myself to novel ideas. I love learning new skills and ultimately personal growth. Being Perth gives me ample opportunity to do what I love daily, be it reading on the beach or exploring the depths of “down unda.”
What places in Perth have you already been able to see?
I’ve been to beaches along the coast mostly. I’ve seen a ton of interesting sites, but I have to say seeing kangaroos in the wild is probably one of the most mind blowing experiences I’ve ever had. In the states we have deer on the side of the road, but here there’s roos. So, it took some time for my brain to even process and assimilate that they were actually kangaroos. It wasn’t until they hopped away that my brain was to receptive to the thought.
Did you ever think that your basketball would bring you to Perth, Western Australia? Which country would you like to play in?
I never thought in a million years that I would be in Oz playing basketball, but let me tell you how grateful I am. I can honestly say, that Australia is so vast, I wouldn’t mind playing here for a while. 🙂
Have you tried the “shrimp on the barbie” yet?
No, but I feel like it’s a must just because you asked!
Article by Natala Miller
Photo by Deprimo Photography