Ebony Stevenson just celebrated her fourteenth birthday on Christmas Eve, and has now represented her country twice with Australia’s national wheelchair teams.
It was just under a year ago when Stevenson first donned the green and gold during her international debut with the Under-25 Australian Devils, and just this week she has made her first appearance as a Glider after experiencing a spinal cord injury in 2018 at just eight years old.
“It started off as any normal day and we were out for breakfast. When I sat down, I felt this really bad pain in my legs, it was like someone was trying to rip and burn my legs off at the same time.
Following what she later found out to be a spinal stroke, Stevenson faced the news that she would be paralysed from the legs down.
“During my recovery I met a lady called Natalie Alexander at Perth Children’s Hospital. She had pamphlets for a ‘come try night’ which is where you get to play all different para-sports, and I was excited to attend because I had always been a good runner.
“I’d never sat in a basketball chair before then, but when I did, the feeling was unexplainable, it honestly felt electric. When I used to run, I could go so fast, and now I could do that again, but just in a chair.
She began training at the Western Australia Institute of Sport (WAIS) and by the end of that year, Stevenson had landed herself a scholarship alongside her now Gliders teammates Sara Houston, Sarah Vinci, and Taishar Ovens.
Gliders Head Coach Craig Campbell said Stevenson’s potential is bigger than what she realises.
“I think her talent excites a lot of the coaches around the country who get to work with her.
“We want to help her develop all the tools she needs to be successful for a long future - whatever that may hold. Whether it be different tournaments or major events with the gliders, or whether it be a university career or playing in the overseas leagues.”
Playing alongside teammates like three-time Paralympian Shelley Matheson who just notched 250 games, Stevenson says that age doesn’t come into play when they hit the hardwood.
“Age doesn’t come into mind when we are all on the court trying to achieve the same goal.
“It's literally just a number and doesn’t define anything you can’t do.”