Tuesday, January 13, 2009

And what a big year it's been in 2008

Well, I guess should make this first blog as interesting as possible as i may lose your interest and you may never read again. However I don't really care and is not a priority of mine. Sharing is also a challenge to me so hopefully I can use this as an outlet, which I prefer as I don't feel comfortable using eye contact when I talk.

First of all if you know me, your lucky. If you don't, get to know me, you will be lucky. As I am sure that in some way I have impacted your life, yet not affected it in anyway.

I will start this schpeel by talking about the year that was 2008, and what a big year it was. A lot more happened in this one year than has happened in a long time. 2008 started the same as almost every year, I was back in to work at my new job and trying to get fit for the new season of SBL. I like to keep reasonably fit as I believe that it will always help you in different aspects of life. Basketball has always been a massive part of my life. I have been playing since I was 10 and have slowly progressed through out the years to be the player I am today. Although in recent years I have found a passion for coaching as it gives me the opportunity to teach others what I know. Recently a new challenge has arisen that gave me a big decision to make for 2009. I was introduced to the community and sport of Wheelchair Basketball. The decision for me to make was do I continue playing basketball, as I am still young. Or do I pursue this new challenge in coaching wheelchair basketball?

The decision I made was to coach wheelchair basketball, and I believe this is a decision that I won't regret and will certainly never look back. The reason for my decision is as follows. Playing basketball gives you limited opportunity to make it big. The grade that I once played, called the SBL, is an amateur league. An amateur league where every team pays at least 2 American imports and Wildcats. An amateur league that leads up into the Wildcats who also get American imports, and rarely get local talent to play for them, and when they do they de-list them the next season. Basketball is a sport where you have to go abroad to make it big whether it be America or Europe. So tell me, do I pursue a sport that is played better in another country and and isn't offering much opportunity where I am now?

When I first was introduced to the wheelchair basketball community I was being interviewed for the WA Junior coaching role. I stepped out onto the court after, where all the athletes were on the court pushing around. I knew no one and had never seen the sport played before, yet I was excited to learn more as I knew this was more big break in coaching. Since starting a little over a year ago opportunity after opportunity has presented itself, and I haven't knocked one back yet.
Opportunities such as learning from not only the best coach in the world (Ben E), but also some of the greatest players in the world. Experiences can't be bought. Not only training my own junior state team, I was given the opportunity to go to an All Australian Camp where I got to see some of the best juniors in the country and also meet some of the best young personalities ever (Jeremy S, Jannick B and Aupy to an extent). But in the way of skill and athletes that I get along with, no better than the friends I have made right here in WA.

In late 2008 I was given the chance to join the world champion Perth Wheelcats to Japan for the World Club Champions Cup. This is definitely an experience that will never be forgotten. I came out of my shell a little with the older players and I made some really great friends. Japan was an amazing experience but will blog about it a little later on when I have nothing else to talk about. Japan was a stepping stone that will help me make further accomplishments later on, and I will never forget how I got my first break and will always help the wheelchair basketball community out and the individuals in it.

A lot of different and amusing experiences happened in 2008, and definitely 2 which come to mind would be the night out after the WSWA awards with my good mate Barty ( I will not ever go into detail unless I am extremely inebriated), and the Geraldton SBL trip with the Willetton Tigers and another real good mate Andrew D. This story I will go into just quickly. Outline, just beat Gerladton by 30 and very quickly after the game started drinking. We ended up at the Nitey where a couple of things happened that I can't remember. But the most important part is what happened when we left the club. Myself and 2 others I was staying with the night got back to our rooms at 4:30am (Grant F and Andrew D). Ps. Bus leaves at 6am. The rest of this story is a little shady as I am filled in over the next couple of days. Apparently we all get, and I reinforce "apparently", we all got naked and started dancing around with "mangina's". Also, "apparently" I took a photo of Andrew D and sent it to his now girlfriends mum. Big whoops and sorry Barb. But more embarrassingly was the fact that Grant F took a video with his phone and quickly leaked it to the basketball community and worse still my mum. Bigger whoops and sorry mum. Anyway, after dealing with the shit that I copped on the way back on the bus as well as the hangover, I developed a real bad case of the stares. Our American import Luke K (Uncle Kunkel) was sleeping a couple of rows in front of me and I was innocently staring, he woke up looked at me and said, "What the fuck are you staring at Notty", I replied with a slurred and creepy " You sleep so beautiful Luke", which creeped him out. Later in the trip back home I had sobered up a little, and Luke was now sleeping on the floor. While watching 27 Dresses (thanks to the girls team) Andrew D leans over to me and says "Look at Luke sleeping on the floor", as he has said this I have looked up and over at Luke, and Luke has obviously heard his name and looked back to meet eyes at what looked like I was staring at him. I will stop this story here as you can well imagine what a 7ft 250 pound American thought of me after this.

Luke K was a massive part of my basketball in 2008, along with going to training twice a week and getting smashed by him he always pushed me to my hardest and helped me become a smarter and stronger player. Week 11 of our season were starting to feel the pressure of start winning or not make finals. Before this game Luke made us huddle in the room, bow our heads while he made a pray. None of us are the religious sort, but something about what he was saying about us needing to come together and that we were all brothers made us lift and play awesome. We won that game and continued to pray before every game for the rest of the season, right to the grand final. We lost the grand final after a great fight. Drinks back at our stadium was a great release but the thought of Luke going home was gradually playing on all our minds. Mad Monday followed at Raffles Hotel ($11 a pint = rort), we drank and talked trash and had a great time. Until it was time to go, heavily sauced I was about to make the call to mum to come pick me up when Luke and his girlfriend Rachael offered me a lift home. In the carpark Luke said bye to the other guys, we jumped in the car and headed off. I can't remember what the conversation was on the way back but I will never forget when I got out the car and Luke started getting a bit watery in the eyes and gave me a huge bear hug. From there it was over, I started crying my eyes out as I knew this was the last time I was going to see him for a long time, and this guy was like a brother to me. He told me that I had a big heart and to keep doing what I'm doing.. You never forget people like that, people that you remember forever. Sounds gay I know and I was extremely drunk, but I cried myself to sleep that night.

I think this is enough for a first blog, I have plenty more to say but i'm missing the 20twenty and my fingers hurt.

In hoops,


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