The Eltham Senior Men’s program has undergone a new look for 2022, whilst also having a very familiar look for the Wildcat club.
As announced in late 2021, Craig Stratford will take the reins of the NBL1 Men. A former Mt Gambier Pioneer point guard in the SEABL, Stratford has built an impressive resume across junior and Youth levels since starting coaching at Eltham 7 years ago. He is widely recognised for his basketball IQ and management style with players.
Assisting Stratford is former NBL player Chris Cameron. Cameron has been in lead coaching roles for the club since arriving as a player several years ago. A local of the Eltham community who has a special affinity with post players, Cameron has provided a strong partnership with Stratford at the Youth level over the last two seasons.
The Wildcats are pleased to have retained Steve Smith as an Assistant Coach for the NBL1 Men. Smith, a Head Coach in his own right for many years at Senior Men’s levels has been an Assistant Coach for Eltham for the last 5 years. His experience at NBL1 level has already proven highly beneficial to players and coaches during the pre-season.
Over the past 6 years, the Eltham Wildcats Youth Championship Men have been one of the most consistent performers, fed by a strong junior program and a focussed attention by coaches on providing players the opportunity at the level. This foundation is set to continue with the appointment of Jon Goodman as Head Coach to Eltham Victorian Youth Championship Men’s team.
Goodman’s background is extensive, most notably with previous positions such as an NBL1 Head Coach, Australian representation and Head Coach for Victoria Metro and Country state teams, where he won a number of national titles over the years.
Eltham CEO Greg Jeffers welcomed Jon “Jon is a highly credentialed coach who has been at the highest levels in the women’s game including within the WNBL. He expressed to me an interest in coaching men again and our Youth Men’s is one of the most coveted positions at the Youth level. We have full confidence that Jon will continue to push the program forward and successfully transition our juniors, into seniors and ready for the step to NBL1.”
As with developing players, it is no different for the coaching staff as Rod Degenhardt continues as an Assistant Coach for the Youth Men. Having previously worked behind Stratford and Chris Cameron, Rod has progressed to now be Head Coach of Eltham’s strong 20/1 Men’s where he will assist the transition of players.
Long time Eltham Wildcat junior coach Leighton Lewis will also be an Assistant Coach to the Youth Men’s team in 2022. Leighton is the current 18/1 Boys coach and has coached similar roles in recent times for the club.
It is important to the Eltham Club that the senior program is representative of the Eltham Wildcats Basketball Club, not just a team that represents the club. “All but two players in the Youth team have played through the junior ranks of our club and that is something that coaches and members can be extremely proud of” NBL1 Men’s Head Coach Craig Stratford remarked.
The 2022 Big V season tips off next weekend with a huge home opener at Eltham High School on Saturday night (19th March) when the Youth Women take on Collingwood at 6pm followed by the Youth Men who play local rivals the Diamond Valley Eagles at 8pm. Stay tuned for ticketing information.
The Youth Men’s team at the Eltham Wildcats competes in the U/23 State League known as Victorian Youth Championship. It is a representative team developing players with the aim of progressing to the NBL1 and other senior competitions and opportunities.