High flyers’ drop-in a slam dunk

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Busselton Senior High School kids with the Pioneers basketball cpoaches from Philadelphia
Camera IconBusselton Senior High School kids with the Pioneers basketball cpoaches from Philadelphia Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee/Jackson Lavell-Lee

Busselton Senior High School received a visit from some high flyers this week when Philadelphia’s Pioneers Basketball coaches dropped by.

The coaches held clinics with the school’s indigenous students in what was a slam dunk success.

Busselton Senior High School physical education teacher Geoff Holt said the clinics were part of the school’s engagement program for indigenous students.

Mr Holt said the program, Waalitj Kaaditjin, was not limited to sports and was about connecting the kids with country.

“It’s not just about basketball — all of the indigenous kids get the opportunity to go out and care for country with conservation and anti-erosion work and native tree planting,” he said.

“The kids meet with traditional elders and are taught cultural lessons giving them skills and experience so that when they finish Year 10 they have community experience.”

The stars of the show were the Pioneers coaches Jack Hoggard, Norman Greene and Tyree Brickus.

Pioneers head coach Jack Hoggard said he hoped one day students from the Pioneers clinics could make it to college and the NBA, like Patty Mills, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons.

“We have a few kids now that have a shot at playing at the very highest levels of college and it’s how they take to their training at college as to how they proceed to the next level,” he said.

“One thing we love about the program is their focus and their mission — they want to help kids who don’t have the opportunity to play basketball, that’s how we grew up.”

The Pioneers are taking a squad of 13 indigenous men to Canada to play a tournament against other indigenous representatives from New Zealand, Hawaii and the US. Busselton students were encouraged to dream they too could represent the country.

“We’re actually in the capacity now that we’re not only scouting but also helping the kids get better as ball players, so they’re able to run an efficient offence and play good defence and come out with a win from the Canadian tournament,” Hoggard said.

Pioneers managing director Donna Nelson said there was the potential for indigenous youth to earn tertiary scholarships through basketball.

“What I realised is there is a lack of youth programs in our community so we have worked tirelessly over the past 14 months with self-funded trips to bring the Americans over,” she said.

“Basketball is the vehicle and we’re looking at how it can help address health outcomes and education outcomes in a positive way.

“We are developing a program that inspires hope, one of our players from Kununurra is 19 years old, 6ft4 (190cm), and can shoot three-pointers.

“We are hoping he goes to university on a scholarship in America and comes back with a tertiary degree for doing what he loves.”

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