New Zealand teen Leger-Walker skips school for GC2018 hoops
While her friends in New Zealand are studying for school exams, 16-year-old Charlisse Leger-Walker is preparing for a different challenge.
The youngest member of the New Zealand women's basketball team at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Leger-Walker is missing three weeks of studies to play for the Tall Ferns.
She follows in the footsteps of her mother, Leanne Walker, and sister, Krystal Leger-Walker, who also represented New Zealand.
"I'm definitely taking everything in because everything's so new and it's such a cool experience," Leger-Walker said.
"I think I'll definitely enjoy it but I'll have to focus on what I'm here to do and what we're here to do as a team."
Despite having trials with the national team last year and her accolades at a junior level, the 177cm guard did not expect to be selected for GC2018.
"It was a surprise, being so young, and I only went to one selection camp so I thought, 'there's not a big chance'," she said.
Since arriving in Australia on Sunday (25 March), Leger-Walker has settled in well with her more experienced teammates, the youngest of whom, Zara Jillings, turns 20 in May.
"All the girls are really cool, they treat you the same no matter your age, so I've fitted in really well," she said. "I think I have quite a high (basketball) IQ for my age and being able to adapt to things quickly is part of my game."
National head coach, Australian Guy Molloy has no doubt Leger-Walker belongs on the Games court.
"She came through the Waikato junior program - she is a star of New Zealand basketball," Molloy said. "She plays with poise. This is a great opportunity for her."
New Zealand plays Malaysia on day one of the basketball competition at Cairns Convention Centre (CCV) on Thursday 5 April.
This article was produced by Games News Service.