The Easter break is treated differently across the league, at least that’s my experience over the last 15 years. Some coaches tell you to go away and enjoy the break, others call you in for training on Thursday night prior to Good Friday, while the most ardent test the commitment of players by calling for a session over the Easter weekend.
After years of trekking over to Adelaide and coaching junior teams, these days I prefer to use some rare time off to clean up around the house and get to those chores that have inevitably been put on hold since this time last year.
Over the weekend, in between cleaning out gutters sprouting their own version of rising gardens and pruning small bushes that resembled a small outer-eastern jungle, I found some time to visit a mountain of paperwork and old reading material, some of which dated back more than a decade.
One such gem I had held onto for some strange reason was the 2008 Big V Media Guide, a publication that was handed around during the prelude to another long season. As I turned the pages and did some quick maths, I quickly realised I was looking at our league 10 years ago, a step back in time that delivered some gold the deeper I got into the 314-page publication.
Here’s 20 of the best bits from way back in 2008. Ready to go back a decade with me? Here we go.
1) The Big V board had 9 members, and not one female existed amongst them. Incredible - thank goodness we’ve rectified that and taken huge steps forward as a sport. I wonder how many club committees also reflected the Big V board back in 2008?
2) Darebin Giants (men), Warragul (men), Horsham Hornets (men), Latrobe University (men & women) and Shepparton Gators (women) all had teams in the competition. Darebin had a young 19-year old by the name of Maalo Hicks, along with a few other familiar faces like Matt Bartlett, Jimmy Todd, Sam Reynolds, Sammy Gazzo and Stefan Pomasan. Good team that one.
3) Ringwood’s senior women’s team was down in D2W with the likes of Tolyna Baan (last seen as a contestant on The Bachelor) and Lisa Ewin (who would become a SCW championship captain with the Hawks and is now at Waverley SCW). The same team also featured a star all the way from India known as Geethu Anna Jose.
4) There were 107 teams in the competition (60 men / 47 women). Today we have more than 150 teams in the Big V.
5) Can you remember these coaches from 2008 - Peter Gay (Diamond Valley D1W), Chris Saunders (Warrnambool D1W), Jodie Danaher (Shepparton D2W), Warren Heigh (Mornington D3W), Craig Simpson (Knox Youth Men), Ross Charles (Ringwood Youth Men - now Warrandyte D1M), Greg Jeffers (Bulleen Youth Women - yes, Bulleen), Marcus Timmons (Sandringham Youth Women), Vince Crivelli (Sandringham SCM) and Warwick Giddy (Werribee SCM).
6) Waverley’s senior men were coached by Matt Shanahan and had the likes of Brad Hill, Darren Smith, Ivan Platenik, Liam Santamaria and Chris Cameron (who they recruited from the Singapore Slingers) running around.
7) A pair of 17-year olds were preparing for their fourth senior season at Warrnambool (D1W) - and even though both moved on and played elsewhere, they are now both back running around today for their beloved Mermaids. Do the names Holly Greene and Amy Wormald sound familiar?
8) McKinnon’s senior men’s team was way down in Division 3 with the likes of Tom Burns and Michael Lazzari both entering their ninth season, while a fresh-faced Adrian Mueller (recently played his 250th game) was just a few years into his career. Burns was the go-to player for the Cougars having averaged 19.9ppg the previous season.
9) The records at the back of the guide show Deanna Smith scored 51pts in SCW in the year 2000, meaning Bec Cole’s recent 50pts for Eltham is not a league record in the top division. Meanwhile, some familiar current names sat atop the SCM scoring list at the time, including Lee Jeka (59pts) and Ivan Platenik (55pts). Other current players to take the eye as far as records go include Michelle Couling (18 Free Throws made in 2002), Tess Feery (10 steals in 2007), Brad Kelleher (10 made triples in 2007) and Vashon Weaver (17 Free Throws made in 2003).
10) Proving that a few coaches have been around for a while, coaches back in 2008 included Ken Harrington and Tim Mottin at Ringwood, Ross Moll at Whittlesea, Al Westover at Melbourne, Glen Milner at Hume City, Sarah Nobbs at Melbourne, Warren Taylor at Craigieburn, Nathan Vogt at Keysborough, Bob Mann at McKinnon and yours truly at Warrandyte.
11) Warrandyte’s D1W boasted three former WNBL players - Jo Metcalfe (nee Moyes), Sally Phillips (nee Crowe) and Kate Cohen (now Stacker). Between them they had played nearly 900 WNBL games. Philips is now the Head of the WNBL. In the same division, Sunbury had a youngster by the name of Emmie O’Nial who is now a key player for new D2W team, Wallan Panthers.
12) Hume City’s SCW featured a couple of well-known names in Sharin Milner and Elyse Penaluna, Melbourne’s SCW roster included Bianca Beaton (now reffing at the same level and above) and Michelle Brogan, Geelong SCW had Candice Rogers (still playing for the Supercats), Bulleen SCW featured a 17-year old Lucy Dawson (now at Knox SCW), while Sandringham SCW were coached by Lori Chizik (now Director of Coaching at McKinnon) with a team featuring Bianca White (now coaching McKinnon SCW) and a 17-year old Jessie Khera (now at Camberwell D1W).
13) Altona’s D1M featured an import guard set to run around for his 10th season. These days Randy Shanklin is doing the club proud as a successful coach on the women’s side of the program. The same team featured Nathan Marsh, who came out of retirement to play at Warrandyte in recent seasons.
14) A then 15-year old by the name of Stacey Barr was suiting-up for her 2nd senior season with Werribee D1W. The star guard went on to dominate the competition with Werribee and Altona, before completing 4yrs at Idaho Vandals, followed by a WNBL season with Perth Lynx, and then by an AFLW season with Fremantle Dockers.
15) Youth League 2 Men featured some familiar names, including Ricki DeHaan playing for Chelsea, Alex Bogart-King with Werribee and Matt Paps with Whittlesea.
16) Chelsea (D2M) had a guy by the name of Craig Smethurst running around, preparing for his fifth season. The 178cm guard was aiming to deliver more than his 1.1ppg the previous season. History now says he moved into coaching, won a championship at Keysborough and is now back at the Gulls in charge of the club’s D1W.
17) Mornington’s D3W featured an 17-year old by the name of Rachael Wansbrough. The next decade saw her go on and win a title at Warrandyte, where she also played at SCW level. These days the power forward is now with Craig Smethurst (see above) at Chelsea in D1W.
18) Melton had a team in D3W with a coach by the name of John Allison - yes, the same John Allison who these days is Melton’s D1M coach.
19) Mildura’s David Meyer was preparing to enter his second Big V season - a decade later and the same David Meyer dropped 11pts in the last quarter in R4 to sink Camberwell in D1M.
20) He may not own up to the fact he was born in 1975 (that’s what the media guide tells us), but back in 2008 Geelong’s Paul Hutchison had already played at the top level for a decade. After a stint at Corio Bay, Geelong’s favourite son is back and currently in his 20th year. Not bad for a 42-year old! By the way, Lanard Copeland was coaching the Supercats in 2008.
Seems like yesterday. The Final Whistle has blown!