The Average Guy, Acceleration-ised
By Stefano Di Iorio
Life is a journey and much like life, my Acceleration journey has led me to some great and wonderful experiences. It all began in 2009 when my family migrated from Italy. A big part of growing up in Australia and becoming an adult has been about playing sport. Basketball gave me a social network and taught me the work ethic necessary to succeed.
Acceleration Australia’s coaches and training programs gave me the support and physical foundations I needed to go from a hunched over book worm to an athletic basketball player.
Height Was My Only Asset
In Perth, I learned to love sports, and particularly basketball. I was never great at it growing up, with my height being my only asset for a long time. In fact, as time past, I got more and more attention as I grew.
It was to the point where I was seen as a solid option on most teams.
These opportunities meant the game was no longer a recreation for me, especially after a holiday to Brisbane where I pestered my mum to take me to a stadium for a shoot around.
Brisbane Basketball Incorporated was the first hit after a google search. That’s really where it all began.
To make a long-winded story short, after this casual shoot around, I ended up moving to Brisbane to join a new team and got a scholarship to a GPS school.
Nothing Short of Amazing
The first team practice did not go well, with my coaches discovering my lack of athletic ability. As a result of their newfound discovery, their first reaction was to ship me off to an Acceleration speed camp in hopes of seeing major improvement before State Champs. To be honest I was dreading it, as I was never told that I needed to become faster, much less actually given a plan to do so.
Let me try and summarise how my first ever Acceleration experience was: it was nothing short of amazing.
The first session was amazing, as the coaches made me realise where I had gone wrong for so many years and began to teach me how to run properly (disclaimer: YouTube is not a professional).
“Speed Camp, Baby!”
As the sessions went on, I learned more and more, and felt happier and happier with myself as I felt myself move faster than I had ever before. By the time speed camp was closing up, I felt like a damn gazelle when I ran, even if in reality I was an elephant compared to everyone else.
But that didn’t matter to me at the time, nor does it matter to me now, as I was astounded at how Acceleration had turned a snail like myself into a slow-moving elephant AND, I felt like a gazelle.
Even more astounding however, was the fact that in the few short weeks of training I underwent, I began to form friendships with just about everyone who coached me, and not once after the initial day was I not excited to wake up early and go and get better.
Fast forward to state champs, where it should be noted anytime I did something remotely athletic my coach would yell, “SPEED CAMP, BABY!”
I began to look forward to training weekly at Acceleration. At the time, my goals were simple really: make the U18 Brisbane Capitals Gold team in my top age year.
In order to do that though, I needed to keep getting faster and more importantly get stronger.
Most Useful Information of My Life
The few months before trials, my time at Acceleration was spent building the foundations to becoming an athlete.
My Acceleration coach at the time really understood my goals and constructed a plan focussed around achieving such goals.
He also taught me anatomically correct body movements which would later become some of the most useful information of my life.
Around the same time, a school friend of mine messed his back up really badly doing squats at another gym.
That injury made me realise how Acceleration valued you as a customer and athlete with the right exercises and safe methods.
We Had A Lot to Prove
As the time approached for trials, I was in the best shape of my life. All my skill work and Acceleration work earned me a spot in the U18 Brisbane Capitals Gold Team.
This did come with one drawback: I had never been part of a team that was expected to win it all. It was mentally draining.
We thought we were good and needed to prove it.
Struggling to find my feet in such an environment, I asked my Acceleration coaches how I could prepare mentally for such a task, and again Acceleration gave me tools.
That season I ended up playing well for the most part, contributing however I was asked to. I genuinely do not think I could have achieved what I did that season had it not been for all the behind the scenes work and conversations which took place.
New Goals Beyond U18s
My first year out of U18s was when my goals began to shift again.
I had attended trials for the Bullets DAT program after the season ended and quite frankly just was not good enough. As such, I was determined to make my way into that program even if it meant giving up all my friends and hobbies.
When I say I was desperate to get into that program, I mean I was as desperate as someone who has been starved of food for months. I wanted it so badly.
Naturally, the first instinct was to contact Acceleration and find out what I could do to become even stronger, one of the main comments made on the feedback by the coaches.
I was worked to my limits by Byron Williams (one of the best coaches in QLD in terms of fitness/condition + strength), and it proved to serve me well.
I earned a training spot in the QBL (now NBL1) program for the Brisbane Capitals. And, playing SBL and training QBL really did help my growth as a basketball player.
In particular, some of the more memorable moments during this time came from the Acceleration team sessions.
Fast-forward about 2 months later from that and the trials for the Bullets DAT program were happening again. This time around, as I walked through the doors, I felt a bit more confident. That’s becuase I knew that I was both stronger and faster. I ended up getting picked in the squad of 12.
My goal had been accomplished but it was not all me.
Had it not been for the coaches who allowed me to develop and Acceleration in aiding me to get better I honestly do not think I would have stood a chance.
My Dream Team
The last piece of the story would be 2019, where I was fortunate enough to be part of an amazing QBL team featuring Jason Cadee and Will Magnay as the headliners of the team. Now if you do not know who those two are, Jason Cadee is an Australian Boomer while Will Magnay is playing in the NBA.
Needless to say, that they were the most amazing teammates of my life.
The rest of the team was also great, with solid players who are great at the QBL level.
That experience however came as a direct result of all my previous hard work, which has Acceleration intertwined deep within it.
They Helped Me Make My Dreams a Reality
In my final words of this story, I realise I probably will surprise a few people with how much I wrote, however I am not done.
My journey as an athlete has been greatly shaped by Acceleration in regards to both the physical and mental side of being an athlete. Acceleration hasn’t just allowed me to become a better athlete, but it has allowed me to meet some great people ranging from other athletes to the coaches expanding my social network.
To conclude, I do understand that my journey as an athlete may not be like that of an NBA or NBL player or even remotely close.
But what I hope that people get from this, is that Acceleration played a part in me achieving things that I could only dream of in basketball.
They helped me make my dreams a reality.
You don’t have to make it to the NBA or NBL to have lifetime memories as a result of basketball. You just need to be happy with your success and the people you meet along the way.