Mikayla Hinkley was born and raised in Penrith and was surrounded by sports and adventure from a young age.
Her career as a professional cricketer started in the summer of 2015-16, earning a contract with the NSW Breakers, along with a spot on the Sydney Thunder roster for the inaugural WBBL season. That season saw history made as the first ball was bowled in the women’s domestic T20 competition, at Howell Oval.
“(The WBBL in Penrith) was unlike any other feeling I’ve experienced before playing cricket”, Mikayla said.
“To be able to have that experience at Howell Oval, in the first ever game of the Women’s Big Bash League, as a 16 or 17 year old…wow, that is something that no one can ever take from me.”
Training and playing alongside childhood heroes – such as Alex Blackwell and Leah Poulton – Mikayla was thrust into the professional arena and captivated by the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s best athletes. With the rapid rise to professionalism came added pressures and strain on Mikayla’s mental health – a weight that amounted in her taking a break from the game in 2017, a decision which proved pivotal in her life.
“I gave up something that, deep down, I still loved…I gave up cricket and I think I gave up on myself”, Mikayla said.
“If I had never intentionally taken that year off, I would have never had that opportunity to find out who I actually was.”
Whilst it has not always been easy, with many challenges along the way, Mikayla has embraced the journey. Taking her cricket skills to four different WBBL clubs and two different State teams reflects Mikayla’s willingness to take chances and back herself. Through the ride, Mikayla has developed a wholesome perspective on life, fostered a sense of resilience and tackled every opportunity that has come her way.
“I’ve learnt so much about myself…through the highs and lows, I don’t regret a thing,” Mikayla said.
“I always want to take risks…I always want to be challenged. I think it’s a prominent part of being an elite athlete to take risks.”
Find out more in the latest episode of the Passion & Perspective Podcast, hosted by Jonathan Robinson-Lees.
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