“My culture. My long-term injuries. My coaches and teammates along the way. All of these things have played a huge role in being the player I am.”
Tanarly Hood is more than an athlete. After a decade in the Big V, the Indigenous combo guard-forward sees the game of basketball as a tool to educate the next generation about core values on and off the court.
Starting her basketball career in Morwell at five years old, Hood remembers it as an instantaneous love.
“I fell in love with the game straight away,” Hood said. “Soon enough, all my nights were filled will basketball trainings and games, and I loved every second being on that court.
“It was my sanctuary and has been for the past 23 years.”
In her junior career, Hood played domestic, squad and VJBL in Gippsland and for Latrobe Energy. She gained experience representing Vic Country in Under-16s and Under-18s with her biggest supporter.
“My aunty has followed me all over the countryside supporting my career since I was a kid,” Hood said. “We often joke that she is my biggest supporter and harshest critic, even though we both know it’s not a joke.”
When Hood chose to pursue a career in the Big V, she didn’t realise just how much of an asset to teams she would become.
“I began my senior career playing with the Latrobe Energy Division One Women where I played for six years,” Hood said. “I then moved to Casey Cavaliers playing in Division One and Championship Women.”
Hood has suited up for Southern Peninsula in their 2021 Championship Women’s team and even though she’s returned to the Big V stage following two years off with a knee reconstruction, Hood’s performance shows no signs of such an injury.
Averaging 14 points, 7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, Hood has played a crucial role in the Sharks’ restructure.
“This year the club have been focused on rebuilding the culture, meaning putting in the work on and off the court,” Hood said. “We have had a lot of ups and downs with injuries, wins and losses and learning how to play with each other.
“One thing I love about our team is that the friendships and bonds have formed very quickly though, almost like we have known each other for years.
“There is never a shortage of laughs in our team, the kind of laughs where after training you're not sure if your muscles are sore from basketball or laughing.”
With a smile, Hood said it’s that incredible club culture which helped her choose Southern Peninsula.
"I decided to play for Southern Peninsula in 2021 because I believe my values aligned with what they were trying to do and the culture they were trying to build at the club,” Hood said. “There are some really great people here that have big visions for encouraging diversity and inclusiveness, and this really attracted me and helped with my decision.”
As an Australian Indigenous Basketball team member at the 2019 World Indigenous Games, Hood has always understood the importance of celebrating her Indigenous heritage and her role to educate others.
“There are a lot of moments that stick with you as a basketball player,” Hood said. “I am proud of my culture and heritage, and it has provided me with a lot of strength and resilience throughout my life and career.
“I believe it is really important to share the knowledge I have gained over the years, so I try to do this by empowering and supporting our young female athletes.
“I am lucky enough to be coaching the Southern Peninsula’s Youth League Women’s team which provides me with an opportunity to really pass on this knowledge and help shape our next generation of athletes.
“To know that I am playing for something bigger than myself makes it all worth it.”
Southern Peninsula was scheduled to host its Big V Indigenous Round in May, however due to the most recent lockdown, that round was postponed to August. Reflecting on her culture this NAIDOC Week, Hood said the date of the round isn’t what is the priority; it’s the meaning behind it.
“NAIDOC is an opportunity to celebrate my culture and being able to do that through the game I love is even more special,” Hood said. “It is great to see more and more clubs celebrating the contributions that Indigenous people have to our community and sport.
“Indigenous Round to me is such a great opportunity to showcase what a beautiful culture my people have, and to be able to share that with the club and wider community is really special.
“I think it is important to educate the community on our First Nations People and work towards a stronger, united future – Indigenous Round is a great way to start.”
Now classifying herself as an “older” Big V athlete, Hood looks forward to her future in basketball, in whatever shape it may take. If it was up to her, she’d still run the courts for another few decades.
"As you get older and other priorities come into play such as family and work it’s great to be able to have such a strong league so close to home,” Hood said. "I’d like to play for as long as my body lets me, which probably isn’t too much longer.
“The plan is to eventually coach a senior team in Big V, providing pathways for our indigenous kids.
“Eventually I would like to return to my home club too and help build the culture there to pass on knowledge that I have learnt.”
And what would that knowledge look like you may ask?
"My advice is, and will always be:
“Your identity is what makes you the person you are. Be proud of who you are and where you come from, you will empower others to do the same.”
Tanarly Hood had to answer these five questions as fast as he could. How did she go?
Go to post match snack? Cheeseburgersssss
Current song on repeat? Tombstone – Rod Wave
Best dad joke? Ahhh IDK
Netflix choice? The Wrong Missy
Nothing is better than... food!