Auryn MacMillan, vegan basketballer player
Auryn MacMillan, vegan basketballer player
Auryn is established as a National League Basketball professional playing in Australia and the UK. He is a power forward known for his high energy.
When we caught up with him in 2015 he had completed three years as a professional having played for four years in the Australian National league and in Germany for one year. He then played one season in the British Basketball League, for Plymouth University Raiders before returning to Australia, where he signed for Queensland Basketball League team Rockhampton Rockets.
The Rockets had been interested in signing Auryn for a number of years and he had connections through the Basketball Manager Chris Neason who has been friends with Auryn for a while now. Auryn described the Rockets as a team with a "strong winning tradition who have been very successful over the last few years."
Around the time of the move, Auryn discovered that his wife was due to give birth in May 2016.
He also values the experience of the coach Neil Tweedy.
Late start in the sport
Unlike many professional sportspeople, Auryn didn’t start playing basketball until he was aged 15, partly because he grew up in a remote rural community in Australia. By the 2006-7 season he was aged 19 and attending Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina, USA, and playing for the team. He spent four years there completing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, completing three season which saw him develop as a player.
This period also saw a career highlight when Auryn was selected for the Australian National University team when they played in the World University Games in Serbia in 2009. Auryn played in about ten games against different countries in what is considered the #3 ranked tournament in the world. He described this as “my greatest, and probably most favourite, sporting achievement”.
He played the 2010-11 in Germany for TV Langen in the German Pro B league and decided to have an off season in 2011-12.
In the 2012-3 season he played for Illawarra Hawks for the season before moving to Melbourne United for 2013-4 and 2014-5. He then moved to Plymouth University Raiders in the UK. “I can do a bit of everything” he tells us “but my job is generally to set screens, rebound, finish plays, and to be a presence around the hoop.”
By 2016 he was playing in Australia again, for Rockhampton Rockets.
Driven by attempts to improve his performance and improve his ethical footprint, Auryn started thinking about veganism. After reading Brendan Brazier’s book ‘Thrive’ he turned vegan in June 2013. Initially he was concerned about protein levels but has still come to the understanding that there is no issue with getting enough.
“I eat completely vegan, whether I'm on the road or at home. It's a challenge at times on the road, but I've always tend to figure it out.” He’s also found the Thrive Diet to be helpful, and describes it as “a program I highly recommend to anyone interested in performance based nutrition.”
As a vegan he has developed a love of Mexican food, particularly Bean Burritos. Auryn and his wife have versions of American-Mexican ‘Tex-Mex’ food, and he is particularly fond of guacamole.
While training in Australia, Auryn would typically spent an hour working with weights before two hours of team practice and an hour of individual work. Sometimes he managed to fit in swimming and yoga too.
At more quiet times he also plays videogames, and live streams them on twitch.tv.
With experience at several clubs, Auryn has had opportunity to test reactions to his veganism. “Most everywhere I've been there has been some initial resistance” he told us “but then my team and coaching staff have always been very accommodating. The Plymouth Raiders have been very accommodating from day one, which was really awesome of them!”
As the season unfolded in the UK, 6’ 9” (2.04m) Auryn is still loving his sport and wants to continue doing so.
“I'd like to continue playing basketball professionally for at least the next few years, and hopefully win a couple of championships! It would be awesome to have a crack at playing for the Boomers (Australian national team), but with all of the young NBA talent we coming through, that is becoming less and less likely. Once I'm done playing I think I'll try my hand at coaching.”