Meet 20 year old, Martin Bleeker.
Martin grew up in Merrylands, a suburb 25kms west of Sydney.
Reaching a long and lean 6'9", Martin fell in love with basketball when he was in year 10 at high school.
Never in a million years did he think back then that he would be offered a scholarship to play college basketball in the USA.
"Back then at about 17 years of age, even playing in the UBL was just a dream".
But playing ball at the highest level was something he quietly imagined, as he would turn up to practice after practice, and spent the next four years learning how to move, run, jump and transform his body to the rhythm of our sport.
"In the very back of my mind, I knew I had work to do."
And work hard he did. And slowly but surely, Martin listened, learned and integrated the skills necessary to compete at the highest level. In 2013 Martin played in his first UBL Summer League, an off-season tournament which attracts some very talented senior players from the NSW leagues. This was a great learning experience for Martin.
Martin turned up to every practice. Even the 6:00am ones on a Saturday morning. And even after enduring a 6 month absence from the academy in early 2014, when an incident at practice left him with a broken tibia and fibular, he returned with even more determination to get back in form.
Whilst working on a quick recovery, Martin also faced great adversity as his family life called him to step up through some challenging times.
And step up Martin sure did, whilst still managing to secure a scholarship with the Chargers at Briar Cliff University in Iowa, USA.
"It's been a tough year but the support around me has been brilliant, family, friends, hoops for health, it's been amazing. That's the reason I'm here!"
When asked how he is feeling only a few days into his new adventure, Martin replied,
"It's really cool, the coach here sounds like a swell guy. These 4 years are gonna be such a memorable experience and I want to make it the best memories ever. I want to go the distance I know is the furthest I can reach in my basketball career. If I've pushed myself to the peak then I'm happy."
Martin will spend the next year as a freshman and will compete in the Division 1 NAIA.
All the best Martin, we are so proud of you!
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