When Emma Mahady looks back on where her passion for basketball was ignited, it takes her back to her childhood.
You could say it all started on the playground at Albury's St Patrick's Primary School.
"It was just the cool thing to do at lunchtime," Mahady said.
"It's what everyone did, everyone played.
"I had no family history to the game or anything like that."
It simply evolved from there, with domestic and representative basketball following, until she finally found her place among the Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits roster as a 16-year-old.
"I was about 14 when the Lady Bandits started," she said.
"I kind of just fell into it because we didn't have enough girls to fill an under-18s rep team in my last year.
"If I wanted to keep playing, I had to move up into the Bandits."
By this stage the newly formed border outfit was still finding their feet.
"It was basically all local players," she said.
"We had a couple of Kiwis come into the team, but it was very local based and we all just wanted to play."
After a couple of seasons playing alongside the likes of fellow border products Tenille Collins, Stacey de Koeyer, Alex Duck and Ellie Gleeson, Mahady decided to take the next step.
Basketball and her education appeared to continue to go hand and hand as she left on her four year adventure studying psychology at California University of Pennsylvania.
Finding success on the court before coming back home.
"In my final year we won the national championship," she said.
"I got a ring, as they say.
"I didn't know anyone before I went over there, but there were two other Aussies on the team at the time.
"You can't parallel it to what you can experience here in Australia.
"For me it was free uni, free housing and a food package, and by the end of it I had a university degree as well.
"And I got to live that life, that unless you make it to the WNBL in Australia at a young age, you probably won't experience."
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After stints in the QBL and the Big V, Mahady found her way back to the Bandits.
While finals appearances have been few and far between, Mahady admits she's been lucky enough to play in the Bandits most successful season.
"I've played in the only final we've made," she said.
"We lost on the buzzer, which was devastating."
Despite their hard luck, she still has many fond memories.
"Personally, there's been some highlights where I've played really well, and maybe even exceeded my own expectations," she said.
"I've played with Nat Hurst and been coached by Lauren Jackson.
"Just meeting these players and learning from them has been awesome.
"I don't know if there's a basketballer in Australia who hasn't looked up to Lauren at some stage."
The Bandits have somewhat returned to how they started all those years ago, with majority of the squad made up of local up-and-coming players this season.
"It's great bringing basketball back, especially women's basketball around Albury-Wodonga," she said.
"Considering I didn't have an under-18 rep team to play in, and now we've got a squad of 20 girls who show up every week to train and play and enjoy it.
"We're back to having a good local foundation, which is what we need to be competitive in this league.
"We can't rely on getting imports every year."
As captain, Mahady has now become a leader and role model within the group.
"I think they're scared of me," she laughed.
"My leadership style is very much this is how I do it, this is how I'm always going to do it.
"I like consistency, so I come out and try and keep my energy the same at training to give them that thing to look up to.
"It's about trying to keep them as consistent as they can be and install those little life lessons, not just basketball stuff."
Another constant element in Mahady's life has been netball.
While the 28-year-old says she's now retired from the netball court, she had been a Hopper from the age of 14.
"North Albury were great for me," she said.
"They always knew that basketball was my priority and they allowed me to balance everything as well as I could.
"Sometimes there were weeks where I couldn't train and they were still willing to go, we know what you're doing, we know what you can do, we're still willing to give you a crack.
"For me it was awesome, but I get it from other's point of view as well, thinking this girl doesn't train and she gets to come and play the same amount as me.
"It was a double-edged sword for North Albury."
When Mahady isn't training or playing basketball, she's working full-time as a specialist support coordinator or being kept busy by her two dogs, Pix and Dax.
While sport takes up most of her days, she also has a longing to travel, with Africa the next destination on her radar.
"I was planning to go on an eight week tour of Africa last year, starting in South Africa and finishing in Kenya," she said.
"Unfortunately that didn't happen, which was quite devastating.
"It was kind of a big reward that I'd given myself, but that's life."
Despite insisting she's been lucky to have not sustained too many injuries in her career, she hasn't escaped unscathed.
"I fractured my ankle three years ago in a game," she said.
"I missed half the season.
"I've got other little niggles that I manage with lots of trips to the physio, they know me well.
"But I don't really have a choice if I want to keep playing."
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