How do you feel about the 21st milestone?
Very happy and proud at the same time, especially having grown something from nothing and to be able to give Kapiti kids a platform to learn basketball, no matter what age or background they come from. To have this kind of longevity and success makes me proud to be part of this growing and flourishing community.
How did the club form all those years ago?
After I finished playing professional basketball I had an opportunity to come to Kapiti and coach the Kapiti College senior boys basketball team. I saw there was a need for basketball coaching on the coast and a lot of girls and boys who wanted to play basketball. I approached the council and the primary schools and Hoop Club Kapiti was formed. Kenny McFadden set up Hoop Club Wellington and Terry Stallworth set up Hoop Club Hutt Valley and I set up Hoop Club Kapiti. With the three of us teaching the back to basics of basketball and nailing the fundamentals with the emphasis on all players having fun and the rest is history. Hoop Club was created to teach the basics and fundamentals then for those players that needed to be extended and challenged. Kapiti Basketball Association was created which then led onto pathways and opportunities for players including college teams, rep teams, New Zealand Basketball Academy and Basketball New Zealand teams right through to Steven Adams in the NBA.
What exactly does the club do?
We provide a back-to-basics basketball programme for girls and boys aged five to 13 years focusing on the skills of basketball such as shooting, passing, dribbling with the emphasis on fun and family and learning valuable life skills. Our aim has always been to create a fun family atmosphere at Hoop Club.
When does the club meet and where?
We meet at the council sports hall at Paraparaumu College, Mazengarb Rd every Sunday during all four school terms. But we are bursting at the seams. We need more room to cater for the growing numbers, so from term two we have changed the age groups and session times so that we can accommodate everyone. They are: five to seven year olds 9.30am to 10.30am, eight to 10 year olds 10.30am to 11.30am, 11 to 13 year olds 11.30am to 12.30pm.
What have club numbers been like over the years?
Our numbers have grown every year and we continue to do so. We get inquiries every week. In fact due to the numbers and lack of space we are restructuring our age groups and session times starting in term two. We start back for term two on Sunday May 7. These coaching sessions will now be 9.30am to 10.30am will be five to seven year olds, 10.30am to 11.30am will be eight to 10 year olds and 11.30am to 12.30pm will be 11 to 13 year olds.
Like any successful club, it's the support people who keep things ticking along. Who are they in this club?
First there is my wife. Without her input and the things she does behind the scenes we would not have the growth and support we have today. Also our finance guy Patrick Caudle who has been with me for around 17 years. I am blessed to have these two beside me. We also have a wonderful and valuable team of coaches and admin helpers who Kapiti are mostly parents who have given up their time to learn how to coach basketball and help out on the Hoop Club desk and make it fun for all the players. I know that these coaches also get a lot out of it as well. It is really rewarding to see the growth and development of our young players. Another thing that is pretty cool is players from the area that I have coached over the years. Now have their own families and these young players are now attending Hoop Club which also continues and fosters the family spirit and involvement.
What are the key reasons for the club's longevity?
I think it is the family atmosphere and the people we have involved. Everyone is welcome and anyone can give it a go to see if they like it, plus we have a big emphasis on everyone having fun and we do try to keep the fees as low as possible so that any child from any type of background can come and learn the basic skills of basketball.
Any plans to grow and evolve the club?
Always as long as there are girls and boys out there wanting to play basketball and learn not only how to play but also gain valuable life skills and become student athletes (because sports doesn't last forever) that they will keep for the rest of their lives. We have just this term introduced Hoop Club in Otaki.
What do you enjoy about basketball?
I love basketball because it is a game that doesn't need a lot of equipment - just a ball and basket -- plus it teaches you important life skills that you carry into adulthood - working in a team, leadership, discipline, problem solving etc. From my background basketball was the only way to get out of the ghetto and have a chance of a better life for me and my family.
In a nutshell, can you describe your association with the sport?
My association with basketball came with having three older brothers who played basketball - two of them playing in the NBA. Most families don't have anyone get close to making it that far, let alone two brothers in the NBA. So I didn't really have a choice. I also had a great career with my high school being number one in the nation with a record of 29-0 and at university making the sweet 16-2 out of my four years playing against people like Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley.
Any other comments?
I thank the people of New Zealand and on the Kapiti Coast for welcoming me with open arms and being part of this journey I am on. I also can't emphasise enough how much we need a multi sport centre out here on the coast, not just for basketball but for all indoor sports. It could be user-pays and would also give our youth on the job training and job experience. It could be run through the council. This model works well in the United States and would be a win/win for the whole community.