Basketball is booming at Matthew Flinders Anglican College on the Sunshine Coast with more than 150 students from Years 7 to 12 registered across 18 teams for the 2022 season.
To challenge and develop their student basketballers, the College has attracted an expert coaching team of star players and coaches, including past Australian, NBL and WNBL players.
The coaching team is led by Flinders’ Teacher in Charge of Basketball, Mr John Fitzgerald, who has played for NBL and US college teams and is also the Flinders Secondary School’s Head of Science.
Coaches at Flinders this year include Rachel McCully, who represented Australia with the Opals, and former WNBL star Julie Stringer.
Also on board are talented professional basketballers Justin Aver, Callum Parsons and coach Brendan Furdek as well as Old Flinderians Jorden Page and Esther Fleming who captained the Flinders Firsts Girls in 2021.
The College is keen to grow as a top basketball school and build on last year’s success when five teams secured premierships in the Sunshine Coast Secondary Schools Basketball Association competition (SCSSBA).
The 2022 season kick starts this week for Flinders’ Junior and Intermediate teams, while Flinders’ Seniors Boys and Girls teams are mid-way through their season.
And the Flinders Firsts Girls and Firsts Boys teams are gearing up to compete in the Championship Division of the Champion Basketball School of Queensland competition on the Gold Coast from 15 to 18 September.
College basketball community pays respects to Mr Dale Ryan
The College’s top new coaching team is the legacy of Mr Dale Ryan, who sadly passed away in July.
Mr Ryan had joined Flinders in February this year as the Director of Coaching, Basketball.
He was a key and respected figure in Australian basketball, and coached at the professional level during the Brisbane Bullets’ record season in 2007 and in Queensland with the Northside Wizards and Brisbane Capitals and the Sunshine Coast Phoenix in the NBL1 last season.
Flinders’ Head of Curriculum, Mr Bill Hooper, who coaches basketball at Flinders and previously led the College’s basketball program for 22 years prior to 2020, said Dale had enriched basketball at Flinders.
Bill said, “Dale Ryan was determined to connect our College with top coaches, players and past players from across Australia, and he achieved this.
“His goal was to benefit our young players and help them grow strong skills, confidence and awareness as basketballers,” he said.
After his passing, Dale was honoured by the Flinders basketball community in a special service led by College Chaplain, Reverend Kathrin Koning in the Flinders Chapel.
Mr John Fitzgerald said he admired Dale for his “professional approach and commitment to building the Flinders coaching team”.
John said, “Our Flinders basketball coaching program really is sensational, and I hope our players appreciate the level of expertise we have on board in 2022.”
The Flinders basketball coaching team in 2022
The following coaches are supporting more than 150 student basketballers at Flinders to develop skills, attitude and teamwork to compete to their potential.
- Rachel McCully played with the Opals Australian Women's Team, captained her Townsville WNBL team to a championship and was involved in coaching another Townsville WNBL team to a different championship.
- Julie Stringer is one of the best women's basketball players of all time to come out of Queensland. She was also named in the top 30 ever to play in the QBL (now NBL1 North) and holds the record for most points scored in a Sunshine Coast Clippers (now Phoenix) uniform.
- Justin Aver is a professional player who moved from Melbourne to play with the Sunshine Coast Phoenix.
- Brendan Furdek coached many representative teams and was recently the Firsts coach at Marist Brothers in Brisbane.
- Callum Parsons continues to grow as a coach and was a former basketball captain at Flinders. He currently plays at Rip City in their NBL1 program.
- Old Flinderian Esther Fleming was the Flinders Firsts Girls captain in 2021 and a talented athlete. She is currently playing at USC Rip City in their WNBL1 team, who just qualified for their first finals appearance in the club’s history.
- Old Flinderian Jorden Page received an Australian Institute of Sport scholarship while in Senior School at Flinders, and went on to represent Australia in many junior championships. Jorden later had a successful College career at St Mary’s College in California. He is also a skills coach across all age levels at Flinders.
Feature photo: The Flinders Teacher in Charge, Basketball, Mr John Fitzgerald coaches Flinders' student players during a game in the indoor Sports Centre at Matthew Flinders Anglican College.