YAS winners shoot for stars

Two rising sports stars have been given a helping hand along the road to international and nation success, as joint winners in this month’s Wodonga Council Young Achievers Scheme (YAS).

Basketballer Sienna Harvey and baseball player Joseph Lotan have received $600 and $400 respectively to assist with the costs of competing in major tournaments in Australia and overseas.

Sixteen-year-old Sienna has been selected in the Australian under-17 girls’ basketball team to travel to the Middle East and Europe in June and July.

The team will play in Jordan in late June, aiming to qualify for the World Cup in Hungary from July 9 to July 17.

The funding assistance from council will help Sienna and her family to meet the costs of competing domestically and overseas.

Sienna’s mum, Rachel, said Sienna was now fine-tuning her skills with a full scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, and hopes to make basketball her career, potentially in the United States.

If talent and drive count, Sienna is already well on the way to realising her dream.

“From the age of 11 on, she’d just be outside training every night,” Rachel said. “If she’s not playing basketball she’ll be on her phone, looking at the males playing in America and trying to match their moves on the court the next day.”

The other joint YAS winner in June, fourteen-year-old Joseph Lotan, has received $400 towards the cost of competing in last month’s Australian Intermediate League National Baseball Championships in Mildura, where his team came third in Australia.

The talented right fielder and pitcher got his love of baseball from his American dad, Carlos, who believes Joseph has the skills and drive to achieve his dreams, which include winning a scholarship to an American university when he finishes school.

“We thought he might be an electrician but he said, ‘no, I want to be a baseball player’,” Carlos said.

“When he sets his mind to something he tries to achieve it and he’s done very well.”

Joseph dreams of playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers and would also like to run his own baseball academy in Wodonga.

Meanwhile, the Huon Middle Years College student will try out for next year’s state team and hopes to represent Australia in the junior international tournament in North Carolina, USA.

Wodonga Mayor Kev Poulton said it was a pleasure to support both teenagers.

“Sienna and Joseph are amazing young athletes and great representatives of their city and region so it’s terrific to be able to help them achieve their dreams – and we can’t wait to see them achieve even more success locally, nationally and overseas,” he said.

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