By any measure 2020 has been a remarkable year for Maitland-raised basketballer Shakera Reilly.
From the high of winning a WNBL championship ring at just 20, Reilly soon found her blossoming basketball career brought to a screaming halt by Covid-19.
But self-isolation has turned into a blessing as she turned the uncertainty of 2020 into a time of self-focus to springboard into a new season of basketball which tips off this weekend.
A final weekend in Maitland before her NSW Waratah League campaign starts with the Canberra Nationals seems such a long way from March 2020, game three of the WNBL finals at the AIS Arena when Reilly was suited up for UC Canberra Capitals ready to take on Southside Flyers.
The Capitals secured their ninth championship winning 71-68 with a crew of supporters from Maitland in the crowd cheering as they saw Reilly awarded her first championship ring under a blanket of falling confetti.
"It was so surreal. The night was almost a blur so the next day I was like 'Did that really happen?' The timing was perfect because shortly after that, the men's NBL finals were called off." Reilly told the Maitland Mercury.
Beginning her year with a WNBL championship in her first pro season, only weeks later Australian sport stood still with restrictions and isolation taking hold due to the coronavirus outbreak.
While basketball was paused for the foreseeable future she knew she needed to take charge of her mental health as a way of coping through this enormous change in life as she knew it.
"I found that in a way I really enjoyed the forced break, because it allowed my lifestyle to reel back in from the rush and basketball training. it allowed me to step back and look at my life in general," Reilly said.
She came home to Maitland for four months where she worked remotely for her Canberra employer Effective People and threw herself into an impressive fitness schedule to stay on track.
"Working from home this year showed me a whole new level of responsibility and self-discipline," Reilly said.
Beginning her morning with a workout set the tone for her day.
"I'm not one to sit still; I'm always doing something. Training constantly through Covid kept me mentally fit too. It's easy to fall out of that focus being away from the sport for so long," she said.
While stadiums were forced to close and outdoor public courts having their basketball rims removed, shooting the ball took a back seat.
"I had a PT (personal trainer) back home Adrian Cunningham from Watt St Athletic and he got me in great shape during that time. A lot of strength and conditioning three or four times a week," Reilly said.
"On the side of that I was doing a lot of running and our head coach in Waratah League, Natalie Hurst, was sending us weekly challenges and fitness sessions to complete as well. I was working out seven days a week, for physical and mental fitness."
Now back in Canberra, she has returned to on-court training and says much like riding a bike, the ability to shoot hoops has quickly come back to her.
Basketball is set to return for Reilly playing in the NSW Waratah league for Canberra Nationals with their first game on August 1.
She is positive about the prospects of a successful season in which the emphasis will be on fun.
"I love Nat [Hurst] as our coach, we are quite a young and small team but we are really talented. We all kept fit with Nat sending us workouts. We need that game time to see what we are capable of still," Reilly said.
"It's going to be all about us having some fun, we just want to play. Obviously results matter but we just want to get out on the court."
Playing in the Waratah League gives Reilly important minutes and experience to continue on her professional path. Next season she has been assured on a spot with her Capitals coach Paul Goriss keeping Reilly in his squad in one of the sought-after development player positions.