Andrew Williams has been playing and coaching basketball with the Coffs Harbour Suns for some time now, and this season he coached both the under 18s girls and under 18s boys teams, with the girls going right through to win the State Cup Championship!
Hi Andrew. Can you tell us about your history with the Coffs Coast?
My relationship with the Coffs Coast is a long one. I was born here in Coffs Harbour, then moved away when I was young to Canberra. I found myself moving back here 12 years ago; my family has always lived in the area.
I love living here on the Coffs Coast, raising a beautiful family and running a business, Williams Timber.
You are coaching the under 18s women’s basketball team; how long have you been coaching?
I’ve coached this group of girls only for the last 10 months, but I have coached this particular age group in the past, a few seasons ago. There’s something about this age group I’ve always enjoyed coaching – not just the coaching basketball side of it, but helping develop young adults.
When did you become interested in the game? Have you played yourself?
I started playing basketball around the age of nine, watching NBA highlights on the TV on a Saturday morning. My mum bought my brother and I a basketball hoop the next Christmas, and I just fell in love with the game.
I’ve played or been involved in basketball ever since, as a player or as a coach.
I played junior basketball in Canberra at a high level, and after returning to Coffs, I played for Coffs Harbour Suns men’s team for six seasons. I captained the team to their first State League championship in 2012, then hanging the boots up, thinking I was done playing, I began to coach, and after a few seasons, I found myself back on the court for another two seasons with the Suns! Finishing up playing last year, I put my hand back up to coach this season and found myself coaching not only the 18s girls but the 18s boys as well.
How long have the girls on your team been playing together?
Some of these girls have been playing together since under 12s, and for some other girls, this was only their second season playing basketball.
The Suns under 18s women’s team are the State Cup Champions this year. Can you tell us about what the experience of winning was like for you and the girls on the team?
As a player or coach, it’s what you dream of – winning a championship!
It’s what you work for all season long; to see the emotion and joy on the girls’ faces after the final buzzer had sounded will be something I’ll remember forever! And to go through the season undefeated made it even more special! It was not only a memorable moment for myself and the girls, but for the parents as well.
What was the preparation, like in the lead up to the final game?
The preparation for me as a coach starts from day one. We set our goals high earlier in the season, and that was to go through undefeated and to win the State Cup.
We worked hard every training session and went about learning and growing as a team from every game along the way, all the way to the final.
What does this mean for the team moving forward?
Sadly, for this team it’s over, with some girls finishing up their junior rep basketball careers, some girls will move on to the seniors, and new girls will come up from under 16s.
What were some of the other highlights of this season for you?
For me this season I’ve had a few highlights; winning the championship is obviously at the top, and sending out the three senior girls as champions was something special.
Getting my boys’ team to the State Championship round I feel was a big achievement.
And just seeing the kids grow week in and week out as players and as young adults gives me a lot of joy.
Will you continue to coach next season?
I’ve recently been selected to coach in a NSW development league called Dleague in Sydney next month, where they select the top 40 kids in the state for each age group and break them up into four teams and select a coach for each team – which is a nice way to end the season personally, to be recognised for the work you put in.
I’ll continue to coach for Coffs Harbour Suns and help develop kids and grow the club and the sport of basketball here on the Coffs Coast.
What are your hopes for the girls in the future?
I hope they continue to play the game of basketball and can take what I have taught them to the next level or at any level they decide to play at, or even just in life!
Setting goals – knowing what it takes and the hard work you have to put in, in order to achieve those goals.