Tess Heal: ''A name is just a name until you do something with it''
BENGALURU (India) - Tess Heal had her best game yet as a part of the Gems at the FIBA U18 Women’s Asian Championship 2022 Division A against Korea.
"I hope that it will get to a stage where I am known purely as me and for my achievements in the basketball world and not those of my family."
She had 16 points on 5-6 shooting with 3 assists as Australia remained undefeated on their way to yet another Semi-Finals appearance as well as a U19 Women’s World Cup berth.
Heal has been a key player for the Gems during this run, being among one of four players to average over 20 minutes per game. In that playing time, she’s been producing 9.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game.
As with any young Australian baller, Heal was more than elated to represent the country for the first time and proved that she’s well-worthy of the opportunity.
"I am extremely excited and honored. It has been a dream of mine to play for Australia ever since I was little and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to make that dream a reality," Heal had said ahead of the competition.
However, unlike most Australians, her last name - Heal - brings a little more attention to her game than others. Basketball runs deep in the Heal family, as Tess also says she "started playing because my brother played and I really just wanted to be like him or more honestly be better than him".
Moreover, Tess is the niece of Australian basketball legend, Shane Heal, and cousin to rising star, Shyla Heal, who also recently shined for the Gems at the U19 Women’s World Cup back in 2019.
"Shane and Shyla were and are both very successful players and have both kicked goals I hope to in the future, playing at a World Cup and in the Olympics, in the WNBA/NBA and WNBL/NBL," Tess said of her accomplished relatives. "All those accomplishments do not come without extreme dedication, discipline and hard work, which is what makes them truly inspiring."
While acknowledging all of that, the bigger picture is that Tess just wants to be known more for just being Tess Heal, a talented player on her own accounts.
"I am a big believer of a name is really just a name until you do something with it. Whilst I am proud to be a part of the Heal family and all the history and attention that comes with it, I hope that it will get to a stage where I am known purely as me and for my achievements in the basketball world and not those of my family," she said boldly.
She’s already on the right track of doing that as well. Tess Heal has long been on the radar as a future star in women’s basketball, projected as one of the top 10 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Stars in 2030 alongside big names like Paige Bueckers and Iliana Rupert.
Aside from inspirational figures within her family whether it’s her brother, uncle, or cousin, Heal also studies other women’s basketball stars in order to get to where she aspires to be in the basketball world.
"I love watching Sue Bird play," said Heal. "The way she scores, facilities, and leads her team at the highest level and has done for so many years is truly inspiring and I hope to one day be able to live up to her standard of basketball."
Who better to emulate that the recently retired basketball legend Sue Bird?
The answer to that is the recently un-retired basketball legend, Lauren Jackson, who is a hero for all female basketball players like Heal herself.
"It is a huge deal that Lauren Jackson is returning to play for Australia and in the WNBL. She is an incredible inspiration to so many people, myself included, and is really proving that you can do anything you set your mind to if you’re willing to work hard enough for it."
"Whilst LJ and I play two very different positions, I think the parts of her game that I do take inspiration from and try to emulate on court are her leadership, work ethic and relentlessness."
From LJ to Bird to all of the Heals, Tess is armed with many examples and role models to learn from. In the end, she knows that it’s up to her to know what to pick up from whom so that she can build her own legacy.