Shooting for the Stars

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Jessica Conjar is a 16-year-old Hervey Bay basketball protégé who has been playing the sport since she was eight. Up until she was fourteen, Jessica had only been playing in all boys’ teams as there were no girls only age teams within the region. It was only after Jessica turned fourteen and started playing in the representative levels for the Wide Bay region that she experienced playing in all girl teams. She still, when playing within Hervey Bay local competition, can only play in an all-boys team if she wants to play within her age group. The spirit between her and her male teammates however is comfortable and accepting. She is just one of the team. The comradeship was noted when during a game, of which the Beacon was there to take photos, one of her team mates Josh Clinton looked at Jessica’s mum Veronica, and smiled.

“I’m trying to get Jess her touches for the magazine!” Jessica has played for the women’s Hurricanes team since she was twelve but until this year it was mainly only small local competitions and random tournaments. This year the competition with the sponsorship of the Central QLD Basketball League (CQBL) progressed to a full tournament including Bundaberg, Maryborough, Hervey Bay and Gympie. The Hurricanes came second in the competition.

Jessica recently competed in the State trials held in Rockhampton for two days and has just received the terrific news that she has been accepted into the 2019 State Performance program (SPP) for up-and-coming athletes. From this Jessica hopes to firstly get onto the state women’s basketball team and from there be selected for the national team.

Jessica is aiming to use her basketball skills to get herself into a good university with hopes to study either physiotherapy or something to do with chemistry which she really enjoys. She also wants to play basketball professionally with her true goal to play in the USA, European or the Asian Professional Leagues

Marko Conjar, Jessica’s dad has had a long history in both playing and coaching basketball within the Fraser Coast region and admits that it has been difficult trying to ensure that Jessica has the consistent challenges she needs to progress her skills. He admits however, that although the lack of a girl’s age league within the region has made things tougher it has also made Jessica tougher. Marko is extremely proud at seeing how his daughter is developing in both confidence and skill. She has a maturity and commitment far beyond that of a sixteen year old.

“She works hard to develop her skills,” Marko said proudly. Each Wednesday Jessica plays in two local competitions – the under 17 Boys and the open women’s competition. The open women’s competition can have women aged between 18 and 45 years old.

Hervey Bay’s competitive basketball scene is severely hampered by the lack of dedicated basketball courts. Having to use the courts within the PCYC, the league is limited in the number of games played and playing times as all must be played on the three courts on a Wednesday night.

This means that games can run really late into the night, or as we found on the night we attended, both teams that Jessica plays for were scheduled to play at the same time. She ended up playing half a game for each side.