At just 16, Jessie-May Hall has already represented Australia twice and been crowned Junior Indigenous Sports Person of the Year. Hall awarded Junior Indigenous Sports Person of the Year.
Hall, or J-May as she is affectionally known by her Barker College teammates, is proving to be one of the country’s brightest young stars emerging through Basketball Australia’s pathways.
Beyond her impressive talents on the hardwood, it’s her relationship to her culture that serves as the foundation to keeping this young guard firmly grounded on her path to success.
Despite growing up in the city, her father, a Gamilaroi man, and mother, a Bangerang Woman, have regional roots hailing from country NSW and Victoria, respectively.
“It’s been a bit different for my siblings and I because we’ve grown up in the city, but our parents try and keep us as connected as possible,” she said.
She attributes her love for sport and culture to her late grandfather Steve ‘Bear’ Hall.
“My grandfather is my biggest inspiration. He played a little bit of basketball here and there, but he was a big footy (rugby league) guy.”
Bear had a long and respected playing career throughout the western region of NSW and was instrumental in the development of several key youth Indigenous programs in his role as Indigenous Rugby League Development officer for the state-body.
“He loved keeping us engaged in sport and taking us out to the country footy carnivals and all that kind of stuff, I have so many amazing memories with him,” she adds.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this article contains an image of a deceased person.
At November’s 2023 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sports Awards, Hall joined an illustrious list of winners on the night including Cathy Freeman OAM and the late Kevin Coombs OAM.
“It’s good, because when he (Bear) was around, he loved seeing us achieve our goals, but now that I’m doing bigger things with my basketball, it’s always nice to know he’s watching down on me.
“I know he’d just be so proud of winning that award.
“I didn’t even know I was nominated for it, and I only found out I won when my Mum told me, and I was like ‘no way!’, I just couldn’t believe it!
“It’s such a huge achievement, and it’s for my culture, my family.”
Awarded to those who display excellence on and off the sporting arena, Hall’s win came as no surprise to her coaches.
Barker College coach Jared Scoines highlights her competitive instincts and will to win.
“She has that contagious persona; on the court and off, she’s the type of person that people just want to be around.”
Australian Sapphires coach Tom Garlepp has seen Hall’s quality on and off the court during gold-medal winning international campaigns in Guam and Jordan.
“She has an incredible heart, she always has such a deep care of the people to her left and right.
“Yes, she’s a fantastic player, but she has so much respect for her peers because she really urges them on to be the best they can be.
“I felt really lucky to coach someone like that and to have the opportunity to play a role in her pathway, and to do it for the national team – I think we both recognise that is an incredible honour that we’ve shared.”
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