Jake Kavanagh

Rolling with Jake Kavanagh

Jake Kavanagh is a member of the Red Dust Heelers Adelaide National Wheelchair Basketball team. He has participated in the Wheeling and Healing Program and helped to run various community activities with the Heelers. Jake has recently taken up a job with Outback Academy partner, Subsea 7, in project administration.

Jake Kavanagh

Assistant coach, member of the Red Dust Heelers leadership group and Captain of the Australian Mens Wheelchair Basketball Team, Brad Ness says “Jake is growing into an exceptional young man and athlete, his qualities on and off the court will only grow and become stronger. He is a great asset to us and will be a great asset to future Australian teams and any other team or organization he is involved with.”

Jake Kavanagh

So let’s start with hearing a bit about your family and where you grew up?

Well I grew up in the lovely suburb of Ballajura, where I still live. In my family, I am the youngest and I have two sisters, Lauren and Brooke, and a brother, Sean. My mother’s name is Annette and she raised me, with the help of my siblings, after my father died…so to me, they’re the strongest and most inspiring people in my life. ….Because putting up with me is not easy haha…

What is your disability?

My disability is called Spinabifida, I acquired it from birth, so I have never really experienced anything else.

How has it been for you growing up with a disability?

It gets tough at times, it isn’t an easy road to be different and stared at and having a pretty constant feeling of ‘judgement ’ from so called a ‘normal’ society, but it’s all about finding where you fit in and surrounding yourself with the right crowd.

But I also feel very privileged to have been given this life, because it has given me so many opportunities and let me achieve some pretty great things, that without my disability I wouldn’t have achieved. It has also shaped me into the person I am today.

How did you come to play wheelchair basketball?

Ah my mum signed me up when I was young because she wanted me to get off the play station haha

Ha! Do you still enjoy the play station?

Yeah of course, who doesn’t?!

What do you like about wheelchair basketball?

It’s fun, competitive, it’s rough at times, which is good …and I guess you get to express yourself throughout the game.

How long have you been playing?

I think this would be my 8th year playing… I started when I was 12

What have been some of your highlights since starting the game?

It’s taken me all around Australia and a few places around the world…Dubai, Italy, Thailand and Turkey for the Under 23s World Cup.

What does it mean to you to be a Red Dust Heeler?

To make a difference. It helps me to become a better person I think, by changing my ways to help other people and changing my views by learning about Indigenous culture.

What do you enjoy about being around the Heelers?

I think how they’ve been supportive throughout, throughout my mistakes, my highlights the people are always there for you and going to support you, no one is going to put you down. And I think there is a really good mateship this team has.

What’s been a highlight since joining the Red Dust Heelers?

Our first game was my highlight, just to get it off the mark and be a part of something new and hopefully be a part of it for a long time and see it expand.

So you recently started a job with Subsea 7, how are you finding that?

I enjoy it. It’s good to have a job, have something to do throughout the day rather than being bored at home doing nothing.

What does it mean to you to have this new economic freedom as well?

It means a lot to me actually, I can provide for myself more and with a little bit more ease and it has changed my attitude completely.

Any favorite mottos?

Live life to the fullest would be my favorite motto, and don’t dwell on past experiences because they help you become who you are, you just gotta move on and keep trucking I guess.

What do you get up to outside of work and basketball?

Ah, I go out with my girlfriend wherever she wants to go! Haha… Still a bit of play station of course.

What would your message be to someone looking to get involved in wheelchair basketball or any other sport for that matter?

Give it your hardest, don’t let anything or anyone get you down, just be yourself as well and try to take only positives away from everything you do.