Toby Lewis’ hard work has paid off.
The Waitaki Boys’ High School basketballer will next week head to Auckland for a New Zealand under-18 selection camp, up against 23 others vying to represent their country at the under-18 Fiba Asia Cup in Iran in August.
Lewis (17) was nominated for regional selection trials by North Otago Basketball and will be putting his best foot forward at the selection camp from April 21 to 23, and while representing Otago at under-19 nationals, for one of 12 places in the New Zealand age-group team.
Former Waitaki Boys’ pupil Danyon Ashcroft, who is now studying at Otago University, has also been selected for the camp.
Lewis started playing basketball about 10 years ago, inspired by his grandfather Bill Clement, who played for Mid Canterbury. The 1.9m point guard’s life now revolves around the sport, so he was “pretty excited” to be selected for the national camp.
“It was just good to see the dream come true, because obviously you want to represent your country in your sport,” he said.
As well as playing for the Waitaki Boys’ senior A team, North Otago under-17s and Otago under-19s, and playing club basketball in Dunedin, Lewis also coaches two teams – the Waitaki Boys’ junior A team and the North Otago under-15s.
He trains twice a day, and off-court he is focused on strength, plyometrics and agility work, and has also incorporated yoga and meditation into his programme.
From next term, he will spend most weekends in Dunedin, playing in the Otago secondary schools basketball competition on a Friday night, club basketball on Saturdays and training with the Otago under-19s on Sundays.
“So yeah, pretty busy with basketball,” he said.
His immediate goal was to make the New Zealand under-18 side, and he was also working towards getting a basketball scholarship to an American university next year.
“Then long term, [the goal] is to play professionally,” he said.
Lewis has the added challenge of living with Type 1 diabetes. He uses an insulin pump and a Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor, which allows him, and his parents, to monitor his diabetes 24/7. He appreciated the support he received from his parents to manage his condition and chase his basketball dreams.
“You kind of can never really have a plan with it,” he said.
“You’ve just got to roll with what happens and be prepared to adapt to whatever happens in the game.”
Despite the challenges the chronic illness presents for him, he continues to excel and said he hoped his achievements would encourage other young people with diabetes to pursue their goals in life.
Waitaki Boys’ and North Otago basketball coach Ian Cathcart said Oamaru had a good record of producing New Zealand representative basketballers, and he was thrilled Lewis and Ashcroft had been selected for next week’s camp.
“It’s just so cool that they worked hard and they’ve been given an opportunity,” Cathcart said.
“What really impressed me about both of them is they’re both good students, good leaders at the school . . . at the end of the day, when you take away everything else, that’s the most important thing.”