The Suncoast Winners
There’s nothing like the bond a mother shares with her children – it’s unexplainable.
Sharon Fulwood has three children of her own but the Suncoast Spinners Wheelchair Basketball Club is like her fourth child.
She has a special connection with the club that has changed her and her family’s life in many ways.
Her son Jake – who was born with spina bifida – started playing wheelchair basketball 11 years ago and is part of the under-23 Australian squad that competed in Japan last month.
“I tell everybody, I’m so lucky I’ve got Jake, everybody should have a Jake,” Sharon said. “People look at me and ask ‘what do you mean Sharon?’ I’m lucky, I’m very proud of the person he’s become but he’s been able to manage himself as well. There are a lot of people out there without his issues yet they can’t manage themselves.
“I’m really proud of him. That’s a bit of a mum thing I know.”
Mum thing or not, Sharon’s pride and enthusiasm for wheelchair basketball is obvious even in conversation.
Jake has had more than 20 operations and Sharon has lost count of the many hospital visits.
Now 21 years old, Jake always wanted to play team sports at school and it was at the Spinners club that he and Sharon found a haven.
“Jake can still walk but we’ve always had fights with him saying ‘you have to use your wheelchair more, that’s why you’re in pain, that’s why you can’t do things.’ But he would say ‘I can’t play wheelchair sport, there’s no team sport I can play, I want to play with my friends.’”
Sharon has tirelessly volunteered for the club and has been involved in the Spinners administration since Jake first started. Her roles have included President, Secretary, Treasurer and Tournament Coordinator for ten years.
The annual tournament attracts nearly 150 players from all over Australia and overseas, bringing together Australia’s development teams in the process.
But wheelchair basketball offers more than just physical activity for those with a disability – it offers many people and their families a second chance in life.
“We had one young lady and she was brought to us with the same condition as Jake. When she came she was about 13 and her mum said ‘this is our last resort because she’s on suicide watch.’ We call her princess and six years later she’s an awesome young lady and has tried out for the Australian team.
“She’s the most beautiful young lady and that’s because she came for Spinners and gained some friends.
Where Sharon gets the time – let alone the energy and passion – in her dedication to the Suncoast Spinners club is astonishing.
While Jake is studying and aiming to represent Australia in the 2018 world championships in Toronto, Sharon is busy with her two other kids, – 17-year-old Emma and 18-year-old Ryan. She also works part-time for Good Sports and is studying event management.
It’s a wonder how Sharon even manages to find time for this interview but she offers a simple philosophy.
“I don’t know, I like to pretend that it’s organised chaos.
“Sometimes I’ve had up to three part-time jobs. I’ve had to be really flexible because Jake would have to go to hospital so often and I’m really lucky my mum lives nearby and is able to help. I used to lose jobs because I couldn’t be there often enough.
“As I say to my kids, we all try, just some of us try harder than others.”