Texas native Angela Beadle has left her family and American southern comfort for the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, and she couldn’t be happier. Angela sat down for a coffee to talk about her love of family and sunshine and how versatility is key to her basketball success.


Article by Kate Butterfield


Angela Beadle isn’t even halfway through her vanilla chai latte before it becomes obvious that she, quite literally, wears her heart on her sleeve. The 23-year-old Kilsyth Cobras import is sitting opposite her sister, Heather, who is here in Kilsyth for a much-anticipated visit from Texas. Beadle is buoyed by her sister’s arrival, because family, she says, is her strength. And when Heather returns home, or when things get tough, the 192-centimetre Cobras center needs only to look down at her right forearm as a reminder of that fact, because tattooed across Beadle’s arm, inked in Arabic script, are those very words: ‘My family is my strength’.


Last year, at times, things were tough for the towering post player. She’d earned her first overseas professional playing contract in Poland of all places, a country with few similarities to her hometown of Austin, Texas. It was a huge move for Beadle, who had only ever lived in America’s south, and one that came with its challenges, but it was one that she was prepared to face to further her burgeoning basketball career. So she leaned on her family across the miles for strength, and succeeded, averaging 13 points and eight rebounds per game for Conscius Widzew Lodz. It was a tough induction to professional basketball life, but Beadle embraced it.

angela-action-layup3 copy
“It was a big eye-opener, but a valuable experience,” says the Sam Houston State College alumni. “The language barrier was particularly hard; that was probably the biggest thing I wasn’t prepared for. There weren’t many people over there who spoke English, but I did pretty well and formed a great connection with the point guard on my team. I think there’s often a special relationship between a team’s center and its point guard.”


Beadle’s relationship with the Polish winter wasn’t quite so great, though. The short days, when it was dark by early afternoon, were also a challenge for the sun-loving Beadle, so when the call came through that an offer from a club in ‘sunny’ Melbourne was on the table, Beadle didn’t have to think twice.


“I was so happy to get that call,’ she says. ‘All of my family has always wanted to come to Australia, so this was the perfect opportunity. And I love it here, so it’s a place I’d really like to stay for a while.”


But 14,000 kilometres is a long way from family and home, so in their absence, Beadle has found strength from other sources.


“From the second I touched down, I’ve loved it here,” Beadle says. “I love my coach, my teammates, my house parents Sandra and Pat, and I even love Australian Rules football. I love everything about it here – although I was expecting it to be a bit warmer. Hopefully I get to stay here beyond the SEABL season and experience the WNBL and a Melbourne summer.”


Beadle has firm ambitions to play at the highest level in Australia, but growing up, basketball had competition from others sports that were courting the natural athlete. There was a time she was tossing up between playing soccer, volleyball and basketball, but the game she had played since she was old enough to pick up a ball, and the game that was played by her parents Helen and Adam at college level, eventually won out. Basketball is a better game for that decision. At Sam Houston State College, Beadle was the school’s first woman to earn Southland Tournament MVP honours, and she finished her college career ranked number one in blocks, number two in rebounds and number five in career scoring. And she is an imposing presence in the paint for the Cobras, averaging a team-high 9.4 rebounds per game so far this season. But she’s not all brawn. Continuing from her college success, Beadle possesses a strong mid-range game, averaging 21.6 points per game this season on 51 percent shooting from the field an an impressive 85.7 percent from the foul line. Developing an outside shot was a skill she developed as a teen – a skill that was actually born out of fear.


“When I was young, I was freaking out inside, and one day Dad asked what was wrong,” Beadle recalls. “I said to him that I was scared I wasn’t going to be tall like Heather, because she was six foot when she was aged twelve. I was tall for my age, but not that tall. Dad reassured me that I would grow, and Mum reminded me that I had big feet so I was sure to grow, and then sure enough, I had a huge growth spurt when I went to high school.


“I desperately wanted to be tall but I think not growing tall until later really helped me in the long run. My sister has always been a dominant post player but because I was a bit shorter playing with some older kids, I had to rely more on shooting and I really think that’s helped with my style of play throughout the years. I think versatility is a big advantage for players these days.


“You look at some of the All-Americans and some of the great players out there right now and you’ll see they’re very versatile. Instead of seeing a straight point guard or a straight center, you see players who are ‘two-threes’ or ‘three-four’ players, or ‘four-five’ players who can shoot, handle the ball and do post moves. So I believe the more skills that players learn from a young age, the better. Sure, I think they need to have their strengths but I also think they need to be able to step outside the box. That’s what I try to encourage to in the kids that I coach.”


When Beadle isn’t playing, training, or watching St Kilda play footy, she runs coaching sessions for young players, where she likes to pass on her mantra around versatility and encourage kids to train and play hard to earn the rewards that basketball can offer. And while reaching this level hasn’t always come easily – Beadle was red-shirted (sidelined) for a year during college due to a crippling injury – she feels incredibly blessed to have found her way to Kilsyth for the 2017 SEABL season.


“I’ve been very fortunate to find myself here,” she says. “I feel pretty lucky right now to be where I am because of playing basketball. Sure, I’ve been injured, and it’s still hard to find jeans that are long enough for my legs, but I can honestly say that I feel very blessed by what basketball has given me.”


And like the love for her family, feeling blessed is something that Beadle doesn’t take for granted either. In fact, right there on her left arm is another tattoo. ‘Forever blessed’, it says. Without doubt, Beadle truly does wear her heart on her sleeve.