The Eltham Wildcats Basketball Club is pleased to announce its 1st team coaching appointments for the 2019/20 Max Kirwan Mazda Junior Championship program. Interviews were completed for the positions by selection panels put together by our Directors of Coaching before being agreed to by the relevant Championship Committee. We’re pleased to now be in a position where we have a lot of applicants for our 1st team coaching roles, both from within the Wildcats but also from external associations.
In recent times Basketball Victoria has awarded our club the ‘Junior Program of the Year’ and most recently ‘Association of the Year’ and part of those awards is due to the work done on educating and developing coaching teams that will provide local players with the best opportunities to achieve their goals and we believe the appointments for 2020 demonstrate that. Our coaching team has extensive background as players of a high level with international, college and national level experiences; but more importantly are individuals that have devoted themselves to the art of coaching junior basketball.
Our appointments are individuals who have dedicated themselves to not only improving their own players, but have bought into the family culture of the Wildcats, one that tries to develop other coaches and players from different teams, not just their own. Each 1st team coach will also play a mentoring role to a junior coach who will be an Assistant and in most cases another Assistant Coach to help provide extra eyes and hands to enhance the development of all.
We look forward to announcing further coaching appointments including the U21’s in the weeks ahead. As many of the positions will involve parent coaches, we will not name specific teams to coaches, as many of the appointments will be dependent upon the selection of the child into a team. We thank all of the coaches for their applications and we can be confident in the depth within our coaching ranks at Eltham.
12/1 Boys – Jon Moore
Jon’s history in coaching basketball is a long one spanning various junior camps and teams dating back to 1991 at Summer Camps in the USA.
His highlights within the VJBL date back to 2008, where he won Blackburn’s first Victorian Championship with the U12 Boys, followed by a Runners-Up in 2009. Jon moved to Knox for a couple of years including a season as an Assistant Coach with the Knox SEABL (now NBL1) Men’s team and their 16/1 Boys. In 2012, Jon moved across to Eltham and during that time has coached both Domestic and Championship continuously, usually in and around the U12 Boys level, but also in Junior Girls. With such an experienced background in development of the children’s skills, Jon is a terrific person to lead our U12 Boys program.
DoC Chris Cameron says: “We are a lucky club to have such an experienced hand wanting to be involved at the junior level. Despite having had a taste at senior level and with U16’s, Jon’s passion for coaching is the U12’s and I’m thankful to have him apart of the Wildcats.”
12/1 Girls -D’Wayne Hogan
We are excited to see D’Wayne move to the U12s for the first time after years of success in the U14 and U16 Girls First teams. Over the past two years, D’Wayne has been the Head Coach of the U16/1 team and delivered good team results in VC and great athlete development, which has seen players under his tuition go on to represent Vic Metro and Vic Country state programs. This includes a Network Coach in the State Development Program and also three years selected for the coaching staff in the Southern Cross Challenge (SCC).
Prior to this in 2017, D’Wayne was appointed the 14/1 Girls where they had a successful season qualifying for the U14 National Club Championships and finishing 3rd. At the other end of the scale, in 2016-18 D’Wayne was the Assistant Coach with our State Championship Women’s team where he was able to develop his coaching under strong leadership of WNBL Head Coach Katrina Hibbert and Ben Cukier, whilst also undertaking the Lead Coach role in the U12 Development program in 2018! But D’Wayne’s coaching background goes back further than just the last 3 years. From 1992-2001, he was Head Coach of a variety of boys and girls teams ranging from U14-U18 including multiple VC teams.
DoC Ben Cukier says: “D’Wayne’s coaching resume is one that demonstrates a passion for junior girls basketball. From Domestic to our Senior Championship program, D’Wayne has been involved across the board. With experience in developing teenage talent, D’Wayne knows what skills the U12’s need to help them into the older age groups.”
14/1 Boys -Carly Stones
Anything that could have been achieved in the U/12 age group as a coach, Carly has done over the last three seasons. With development of the young players as the priority, Carly has led the Wildcats to National Classic and Victorian Championship titles at the U12 level. Not only at VJBL, but within the EDJBA, Carly is one of the most recognised externally, for her role in our club’s development of players and coaches. Along the way however, Carly has also taken on Assistant Coach roles both in juniors, but also in seniors; that as shown her eagerness to learn and improve at her craft. This led to her taking on our Youth Women’s (U/23) team as it underwent a rebuild process over the last two years; but also playing a role within Vic Country’s junior development programs.
DoC Chris Cameron says: “Very few are as passionate about their coaching and developing people to be better players than Carly. This will be a great challenge for her and every challenge she has taken on, she has blossomed and I’ve got no doubt that will happen again.”
14/1 Girls -Ben Cukier
One of Australia’s most credentialed junior coaches returns to the role of Eltham’s U14 Girls 1st team. Ben’s first VC title was back in 2002, an U12 Girls title, but his most recent was in 2018 with U12 Girls, with three others in between. On two occasions Ben has led Eltham’s U14 Girls to the National Club Championships finishing with a silver and bronze medal. Between 2005-2012, Ben was heavily involved in Basketball Victoria and Basketball Australia’s state and national programs. Along the way, some of Ben’s highlights included as Head Coach winning three national championship titles with U16 Vic Metro Girls whilst also taking on numerous roles as a Network Coach and Assistant Coach for Basketball Australia national junior teams at the U17 and U19 level including the respective national camps.
In 2005, Ben was a WNBL Assistant Coach for the Dandenong Rangers, but whilst having been approached from a lot of associations around Melbourne, Ben has stayed loyal to the Eltham Wildcats Basketball Club and will aim to continue his work with the U14 Girls.
16/1 Boys -Leighton Lewis
Leighton has been around basketball all his life, but his coaching is one where he has demonstrated patience and a desire to learn and develop here with us at Eltham. Starting out in domestic coaching in the EDJBA with his son’s teams, he moved into Championship basketball. Developing his coaching skills particularly around the U16 age group, Leighton spent 8 years taking on additional learning opportunities, being an Assistant Coach and attending clinics and conferences developing his knowledge. Leighton has also taken on roles with the Victorian state team so that he could be at trainings and games learning from some of the strongest coaches in junior basketball. All the while, Leighton has been a committed club coach in domestic basketball!
In recent years, Leighton was given teams that would challenge his ability to develop young talent, a challenge he accepted and thrived on. Having been sideline to Craig Stratford’s coaching for a period of time, Leighton took on the 16/1 Assistant Coach role for 2019 behind Chris Cameron. The team won the 2019 National Junior Classic and finished atop the U16 Victorian Championship ladder heading into the finals.
Coaches don’t just turn up; they spend time developing their skills and knowledge over a long period of time and Leighton is an example of that.
DoC Chris Cameron says: “I know that our club is strong on pathways and there is no better example than Leighton. Between strategic education opportunities provided, along with him taking it upon himself to be ready for the opportunity to coach a 1st team, Leighton get this deserving opportunity.”
16/1 Girls -Tracey Wightman
One of the most well known faces around the club is appointed to our 16/1 Girls; Tracey’s first time with 1st team appointment. Few people dedicate the time to coach development than Tracey and that has now been demonstrated over the last five years. Having coached within the domestic EDJBA for a period of time, Tracey took on two years of lower U12 Girls teams, before taking on the 12/2 Girls in 2017. Taking on Chris Cameron as an Assistant Coach to help both herself and the players themselves, Tracey led the team to VC and deep into the VC Reserve Finals. Many of these players the next season won the U12 VC title, whilst the season after that, featured in the 14/1 team; demonstrating her ability as a coach to develop talent.
In 2018 Tracey wanted to develop her knowledge at the other end of the spectrum with teenage girls and took an Assistant Coach position with the 18/1 Girls; before then taking on the 16/2 Girls as Head Coach for the 2019 season, whilst also assisting the 14/1 Girls whenever she could. As if this wasn’t enough, Tracey was asked to be Team Manager for the U16 Vic Metro Girls team; a role she utilised as a chance to develop her knowledge from WNBL Head Coach Kennedy Kereama. In between all of this, Tracey has also spent time within the Senior program over the years as an Assistant Coach. Many will be familiar with Tracey however for her expertise in Strength and Conditioning, which has led to her being able to observe coaching styles across a range of sports and age demographics.
Tracey has been recognised by Basketball Victoria with three appointments to Assistant Coach roles within the Southern Cross Challenge (SCC) program at U14 and U15 level, whilst also being selected as a Network Coach within the State Development Program.
DoC Ben Cukier says: “Tracey has pursued a path of education to give her the best preparation for this opportunity. As part of her application, Tracey has put in place senior mentor coaches to provide guidance and support, which is a terrific step for a coach to take.”
18/1 Boys -Craig Stratford
Where do we start and end? What an amazing path this coach has taken in the recent years. Walking into Eltham as a dad who had some history as a basketball player for Mt Gambier, he took on the 14/2 Boys and the next year took the step to 14/1 Boys and the journey took off from there! He won back to back National Club Championships in 2017 and 2018 at the U14 level, which gave him the opportunity to coach Eltham’s boys at the 2018 U15 Jr NBA World Championships; placing 6th in the world. He was then selected in 2019, to be Head Coach of the Asia-Pacific combined U15 Boys team at the 2019 Jr NBA Global Championships. Within this time, Craig’s team also won a National Junior Classic title and a Victorian Championship.
In 2017 and 2018 Craig was Assistant Coach to our Senior Men’s team, before taking on the Youth Championship Men as Head Coach in 2019, finishing as Runners-Up. Also during 2019, Craig was Assistant Coach to the U18 Boys Vic Metro team where they won gold. Craig is a Network Coach within Basketball Victoria’s State Development Program.
DoC Chris Cameron says: “Craig has established himself as one of, if not the best junior boys coach within the VJBL currently. His record in developing high quality young men, but also with strong results and performances are unmatched over recent years. He took on a new challenge coaching U18 Boys in 2019 and will be back in the role for 2020, developing players for the senior programs.”
18/1 Girls -Greg Jeffers
Greg will take on his 21st straight season of VJBL coaching in 2019; his 10th at Eltham. In that time, he has coached teams that have won National Junior Classic titles (U14 Boys and U18 Boys) with two Runners-up (U12 Boys and U14 Girls) along with a VC title and multiple qualifications to U14 National Club Championships. He has also coached for many years in the senior program, with the highlights including winning the State Championship for Women in 2011 and a Runners-Up in the 2018 Victorian Youth Championship Men’s competition.
On top of his VJBL and Senior program commitments, Greg was the Australian coach for the FIBA World Youth Camp in Istanbul in 2010, Head Coach for Vic Metro teams at the Southern Cross Challenge on 3 occasions and was apart of Basketball Victoria’s State Development Programs for 12 years. Across this time, Greg has continued to coach domestic basketball in the EDJBA for 23 years; predominantly in the lower age groups.
Most recently in 2019 Greg coached the 14/1 Girls, which at the time of writing are deep in the Victorian Championship finals.
DoC Ben Cukier says: “Greg was keen to take on 18/1 Girls for 2020 and help develop them for the Senior Program, balancing their junior commitments with their transition into higher levels.”