VALERIE Ogoke has overcome a basketball career-ending injury and come halfway around the world to begin a new life in Perth.
Born in Los Angeles, Ms Ogoke is now the coordinator of the South Perth Learning Centre but she has had an unorthodox ride.
She has played college basketball in the US, in the State Basketball League (SBL) and the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL).
“At 22, I moved to San Francisco and lived there for three years. It was there where I was inspired to explore outside of America and do what I wanted,” she said.
“I became more self-aware and decided I wanted to explore and enrich other people’s lives.
“I was working in a finance job but I wanted a change of scenery. It had been three years since I played basketball in college at Loyola Marymount University but then I was picked to play for the South West Slammers in 2012.”
In Ms Ogoke’s first and only season with the Slammers, the team picked up its first women’s championship.
“I was picked up by the Canberra Capitals in the WNBL 2012/13 season, where I met Lauren Jackson, who was the epitome of a leader and had so many words of advice and I learned so much from her,” she said.
“I stopped playing when I landed on a teammate’s foot and fractured my ankle. It required three surgeries and I’m still rehabbing to this day.”
Ms Ogoke then worked in sports management with the South West Academy of Sport (SWAS) until last year.
“It was a sports management role; I was working with athletes aged 14-18 in Olympic or culturally significant sports,” she said.
“I left SWAS in 2016 and spent about a year in Indonesia before once again moving back to WA.”
Ms Ogoke said her focus in her new role was to get more people taking part in the various classes at the learning centre.
“I’m aiming to reach a new demographic here, we want to get more young adults to come here,” she said.
“We have an inclusive environment, with lots of different courses such as art, photography and languages.”