It's shaping up to be a milestone summer for former Lismore cricketer Sammy Jo Johnson. She is about to notch up 100 games in the Women's Big Bash League competition, and an impressive 100 wickets.
Sammy Jo is open about her turbulent early years, and says she has to pinch herself to believe she's made it so far in the game.
"There is no way on earth that I thought Sammy Jo Johnson would ever think she would play 100 WBBL games, that's for sure - and to actually have an impact as a key wicket taker, that's something I'm pretty proud of," she said.
Sammy Jo credits sport with helping her through some tough times, but she says experiencing those difficult moments has helped her find the grit and determination needed to excel in cricket.
"To go through some adversity as a youngster and then to be able to come back and fight through that and actually turn back to the game that I absolutely love and adore - cricket's helped me to be the person that I am today."
She was fortunate to not have had too many injuries in her career, but says you need to do the hard work to be at an elite level and to stay healthy.
"It just doesn't happen overnight. I've had to work my backside off on the training paddock and in the gym to make sure I am fit and healthy to remain on the park for that many years."
Sammy Jo credits having a life outside of cricket as an important factor in her success
"If you just think cricket 24/7, unfortunately when you don't have a good day, what are you going to go home and do? You're going to think about cricket."
A partner, work, and interests like her dogs, boats and her cars help her stay level headed and "realise there is so much more to life".
Living in a regional area need not be a hindrance to being selected to play in the national leagues, she said.
"It doesn't matter where you're from, if you work hard and apply yourself to whatever sport, whatever it may be in life, you can do it," she said.
"You've just got to obviously be a little bit gritty, and go through the ups and downs of it, but don't be scared. You're going to have to fall a few times to make it, but just keep pushing through and you can make it."
As the Sydney Thunder works to make the finals, Sammy Jo will be calling on that grit and determination to win against some tough competition.
For youngsters who are inspired by Sammy Jo's story and are looking to play cricket, the first local T20 Cricket League for girls may soon start.
Tintenbar-East Ballina Junior Cricket has put the call out for girls aged 7-14 to join the competition.
You can enter your own team or join a team, and organisers are looking for four teams, made up of of eight players to start the competition.
"The sooner we get enough interest from local girls, the sooner we will start the competition," organisers said.
"So grab your friends and create a team or register yourself and we will help you find a team to play with.
"Turn your one day's into Day One and start your cricket journey today by registering your interest."
The proposed competition will have a modified format , use soft balls, and be played mid week, with coaching and equipment provided.
Register your interest on the link below:
In other cricketing news, trials will be held on Sunday, November 6 for Far North Coast Cricket Carnivals scheduled for January at Lismore, Ballina, Newcastle, Armidale, and Taree.
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