Posted on Monday, 18 September 2023 under Articles
Tokomanawa Queens basketball captain Stella Beck explains how her background in psychology and neuroscience influences her unique leadership style, opens up on her journey to find balance in life, and discusses the importance of great nutrition.
Stella, tell us about your background in basketball…
I started getting really serious about basketball when I was selected for my first New Zealand age group team in 2010. I made my debut for the Tall Ferns in 2013 at the age of 17 and have worn the black singlet nearly every year since then. I spent four years at Saint Mary’s College (near San
Francisco), played professionally in Australia (for the Townsville Fire and the Melbourne Boomers), and came out of retirement last year to lead the Tokomanawa Queens to the title in the inaugural season of Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa.
As a captain, what’s your approach to leadership?
My leadership style is probably a lot more passive than many captains. I respect the space of my teammates above all else – I believe that when you create a safe, comfortable environment people’s confidence will grow. I want the people around me to have fun, and in return I only ask that they bring their best effort and energy every day.
How has your background in psychology and neuroscience influenced your approach to top-level sport, and to leadership?
The mental aspect of sport has always interested me, and I believe that it has been as important in my success throughout my career as the physical and technical aspects of playing basketball. It’s always useful to remember that basketball is just
a game and that you need to have a broad range of interests in your life to fill your cup. Prioritising time off the court helps to take the pressure off when it comes time to perform on it.
What does a week look like for you as a professional athlete?
During the season I have something on every day, including team training, game days and individual workouts. When it’s the off-season I love trail running and I also practise yoga to maintain that mental edge.
ANZCO Foods is the Pounamu sponsor of the Queens, helping the team achieve peak performance through nutrition and good health. How important is nutrition in achieving your goals?
When it comes to elite performance, nutrition is critical. With a busy week of training, recovery is a priority. I get my protein primarily from lean grass-fed beef and lamb, which is also rich in iron and other essential nutrients. I firmly believe that a balanced diet, including beef and lamb alongside vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, plays a major role in maximising my physical and mental health as well as general wellbeing.
What are your go-to meals?
I love soups and broths, so I will always save the bones from my meat. I’ll boil them down with water, scrape off the leftover fat and meat, get the marrow and then add veggies or miso for a meal that’s high in gelatine, amino acids, and protein, and one which does wonders for gut health (microbiomes) and immune support.
A delicious cut of ANZCO lamb is my absolute favourite if I’m cooking a roast, although a nice chop with the fat on and plenty of rosemary is hard to say no to!
What does life outside of basketball look like for you at the moment?
I used to juggle professional sport with a full-time job but now I’m focusing 100% on the Queens and the Tall Ferns. I try to find time to do yoga every day and would love to teach it in the future. I also enjoy gardening, cooking, spending time with friends, getting out and about in nature, travel, and solving the odd cryptic crossword!
What are your immediate sporting goals?
I’m committed to winning back-to-back titles with the Queens this season, as well as helping the Tall Ferns qualify for the Olympics in Paris next year. Both will be big challenges, but I have no doubt that they can be achieved.
And, finally, what advice would you give young people chasing their sporting dreams?
There are so many opportunities that come with sport beyond what you do during game time. Explore them all – build friendships, ask questions, and stay open-minded. It’s amazing what doors can potentially open that you had no idea were available when you started your sporting journey. Finally, always remember that we play because we love it. Make sure you have fun.
“When it comes to elite performance, nutrition is critical. For recovery I get my protein primarily from lean beef and lamb, which is also on and other essential nutrients.”
Captain for the Tokomanawa Queens