Photos courtesy of NBL.com.au and David Price
It was Sunday morning; I had just gotten off a flight from Los Angeles where I had enjoyed a month of working out, catching up with mates and checking out some NBA games. Some big news had developed on my trip and I had not told my Mum yet. We were just sitting down to have breakfast on our back deck and I was planning my delivery.
I had signed with the Brisbane Bullets one week earlier. I had told a few of my close mates but had withheld from telling my mum. I wanted to tell her in person and see her face when she found out I was finally moving back home.
We sat down to eat and my older brother began filming our conversation on Facetime so my other brother (who lives in Northern California) could be a part of the action. This was a family affair and I wanted to have them together for the big news.
“Something happened while I was in America…”
“WHAT!!!” My mum looked up from her breakfast. Her face looked concerned, the possibilities of the news I was about to deliver was running wild through her head.
‘”I signed with the Brisbane Bullets for next season.” She stood up, raised her hands and started to cry.
I’m coming home.
I’m from Logan, a suburb on the Southside of Brisbane, just a 25-minute drive from the Brisbane convention centre. The Southside of Brisbane represents my childhood. It’s my family. It’s my friends. It’s Basketball. I went to high school in Brisbane city. My high school, Brisbane State High, is one block from where the Brisbane Bullets played and will play home games this coming season.
It’s funny how life comes full circle. I used to go to Brisbane Bullets games with my family and dream of getting to play for the Bullets. Guys like Bobby Brannen, Troy Pillon, Ben Castle, Stephen Black, Sam Mackinnon. The Bullets in the early 2000’s struggled, but were idols to the young kids of Southeast QLD. Then in 2004, they got it together and had some really good years from 2004-08. They won a championship in 2007 before returning their license to the NBL.
I moved from Brisbane in 2007 to head to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. My basketball career was just beginning and I had no idea how long it would be before I returned to live in the city I grew up in. My dream was to play for the Brisbane Bullets one day. I had a goal and I went to the AIS to work towards it.
As athletes our careers are a journey. A journey from learning the fundamentals of the game to performing and achieving success on the biggest stage. I learned in college at Saint Mary's that you have to embrace the journey, the challenges we overcome, the tears, the joy, the brotherhood, the honesty, the acceptance and this very moment. I try to work hard every day, embrace each moment and focus on being the best player and person I can be.
After three years in the league, I know I am ready to take the next step. I took some time during the offseason to reflect on my time in the NBL, and how I see my role. I feel like I have matured as a player. At some point, the question every player has to answer is ‘What is my role in this league?’ Players who consistently help their teams win games stick around. So every player has to figure out what he does well. You create value for yourself by doing enough positive things to make your coach keep you on the floor.
I try to take little bits from each of my coaches. All coaches understand, in most respects, that their job is to guide their players toward their potential. The way in which they do that, however, varies greatly and can have lasting effects on the psyche and performance of their players. I feel I have been fortunate to play for some really good coaches. Marty Clarke at the AIS, Randy Bennett in College at Saint Mary’s, Aaron Fearne my first two years in the NBL and Shawn Dennis last season in Townsville. My last two NBL coaches have both won coach of the year whilst I played for them.
There will be a new kind of pressure to perform for Brisbane. Not only is there a re-birth of the franchise in Australia’s third largest city, but also the expectations of family and friends at every home game. As a professional there is pressure to perform every night but as a pro playing for your home city I haven’t experienced that before. I am ready and think it will help me take my game to the next level.
Brisbane is a strong sporting city. The Broncos have a rich tradition of success. The Roar had a great year. The Firebirds just won the championship. The people of Brisbane love their sport. And I believe they will love the Bullets again.
My homecoming is about a dream coming true.
A kid growing up in Brisbane and wanting to one day represent the team from the city that I call home. They say home is where the heart is and Brisbane is home for me. This place built my character and shaped me to be the person I am today. There are so many people that have been influential in my life: parents, siblings, coaches, and friends. I owe a lot of my success and growth to these people and I can’t wait to play in front of them on our home court.
The video of me telling my mum about signing with the Bullets will be something I cherish forever. It symbolizes the importance of having the support of people you love and taking the time to celebrate the wins together. I feel it is the beginning of something. A time that will be great for my career and for us to witness the re-birth of the Brisbane Bullets franchise.
I know how passionate basketball fans in Southeast Queensland are. I hope everyone gets behind the Bullets.
My family and friends are excited I have returned. The Bullets are back. A dream come true.
A Professional basketball player for the Brisbane Bullets with a Business degree from Saint Mary’s College in California. All about the Journey…
Follow Mitchell Young on Instagram @mitchellyoung3