"The things you regret are the things you don't do."
That's the mantra of Amy Conroy, three-time Paralympic athlete and a star player for East London Phoenix.
The University of East London (UEL) is home to one of four British Wheelchair Basketball's Women's Premier League teams — which kicked off its inaugural season in December 2021, and is the first ever league of its kind.
As Conroy darts around the on-campus court, swerving mannequins and demonstrating some serious chair-tipping skills, East London Phoenix head and assistant coaches Michael Hanson-Morris and Freddie Carty praise her as a role model for the team.
"When Amy first came, it was the equivalent of me meeting David Beckham," says Carty. "The other girls were so starstruck meeting her too."
East London Phoenix have won three of their six opening games, and think they have a good shot of winning the league.
"It was quite a ballsy thing to do"
Conroy admits she never thought a league like this would even happen during her career, because many countries discussed it without following through. "It was quite a ballsy thing to do," she says.
"The fact that it's the first franchise for the university and it's a disabled sport that's not a token gesture — that's pretty powerful."
Before joining The Phoenix, Conroy began to resent playing where she was in Sheffield. She says the dynamic at UEL is much healthier for her, and has reignited her passion for the sport: "As soon as the league was announced, I knew I wanted to be part of it.
"I've always wanted to live in London, so I thought, why not!"
"No one expected it"
"Everything just clicks"
So what's the secret of the Phoenix's fiery start? The team is like a second family to Conroy, she says, and this strong bond helps the performance. "I've really fallen in love with the team dynamic. When you have that off-court kind of love for each other, then on-court you can give criticism in the moment and feedback because you know that when it comes down to it, we have each other's backs."
Head coach Hanson-Morris agrees: "They're a pleasure to coach," he says, "It's all been natural, we've not had a lot of time together as a team, but everything just clicks."
"I want to be that"
Conroy has been into sports her entire life, before and during life with a prosthetic leg.
After winning her battle with bone cancer as a child, her father — one of her biggest fans — introduced her to wheelchair basketball. Conroy was reluctant to do it at first, concluding that she wasn't any good at the sport.
It wasn't until she watched a game on TV that she said to herself, "I want to be that."
Conroy's sister Alice is one of the team's newest members and is considered a non-disabled player.
"She's just a really big fan, kind of right from the beginning, right from the days when I was awful, and I'd get one-minute court time, her and my dad would always be there and then she'd kind of pass around the ball."
Which prompts Conroy to tell us her favourite thing about the sport: "The fact that you can be able-bodied or disabled, so it really is inclusive, you can play recreationally or have big dreams with it."