Former Edwardsville High School basketball player Jamie

EDWARDSVILLE — Jamie Schwear made some nifty moves on the basketball court at Edwardsville High School, but the biggest move of her life came eight and a half years ago.

The 1989 EHS graduate went on to play at St. Louis University. She now lives in Australia, where she works as a physical therapist.

“I went through a divorce at the age of 40 and I was living and working in Scottsdale, Arizona,” said Schwear, who moved to Australia in March of 2014. “We didn’t have kids by choice, and I had always wanted to live and work overseas, and Australia and New Zealand were at the top of my list.

“It took almost two years to get through all the hoops and the qualifications. I got my degree in physical therapy from St. Louis U. in 1994, but I had to get my license for Australia. I passed all of their exams and I was able to get a skilled work visa and I moved over there.”

It didn’t take long, though, for Schwear to realize she had made the right decision, personally and professionally.

“I didn’t know if I would go there for a few years and just have the experience or if I would really like it and stay, but I ended up loving it so much,” said Schwear, who lives on the Sunshine Coast in the state of Queensland. “I made good friends and landed a great job.

“To me, Australia feels like a mixture of America and the UK, which is a fairly similar culture. I see America today as more of a land of extremes, but Australia is more moderate in nature. It feels like the America that I grew up in during the 1970s and 1980s.”

At EHS, Schwear also played volleyball and softball as a freshman and softball as a sophomore. But basketball was always her No. 1 sport.

“Sharon Petty was the varsity head coach my freshman and sophomore years when I mostly played JV and Dave Tissier was the head coach for my last two years when Petty stepped down to focus on coaching field hockey,” Schwear said. “Between PE classes and after-school sports, my friends and I would always congregate with Petty and Stilwell. They were great mentors and a really good source of listening ears for teenage girls.

“We had Amy Nelson, Denise Isenberg, Michelle Schaefer, Cara Eden and Sara Schreiber, so it was kind of the six of us,” Schwear said. “We were such a tight group, and we were good friends as well as teammates. Amy was the point guard, and I was the shooting guard.

“I’m still Facebook friends with all of those girls, which helps us keep in touch, and that is very special to me,” she said. “My time at EHS as a student athlete and my upbringing in Edwardsville was the foundation for who I am today.

“Edwardsville will always be ‘home’ to me, and forever will hold a special place in my heart.”

Schwear graduated from SLU in 1994. She got a job in Tucson, Arizona, and moved there for a year before going back to graduate school.  She earned a master’s degree in sports health care from A.T. Still University in Phoenix in 1997.

“I met my ex-husband in that program, and he was a certified athletic trainer,” said Schwear, who describes herself as “a big nature girl” with a love for all things outdoors. “I was in Arizona for three years and then we moved to Oregon for three years while he got his PhD at Oregon State. I lived in Corvallis, Oregon, and worked as a PT for those three years and then we moved back to Phoenix, where I lived for another 12 years.”

While working in Scottsdale, Schwear had her own clinic with a group of orthopedic surgeons for about two years before her body started to break down due to all of the hands-on work she had done. She sold the clinic and went into home health, which she has been doing ever since.

After going through a divorce in 2012, she moved from Scottsdale back to Edwardsville for two years to spend time with family and friends while studying for her physical therapy exams for Australia.

“I feel like being back in Edwardsville gave me grounding and stability and that long-term support system that I needed to heal from my divorce,” Schwear said.

In Australia, Schwear has been a physical therapist for Adapt Healthcare the past seven years.

“It’s a small company and I have a great team of people that I work with, and I love the work-life balance that I have,” said Schwear, who became an Australian citizen two years ago and is a now a dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia.