With basketball placed on hold in Melbourne yet again due to COVID-19, Nunawading’s representative teams have reverted back to using online channels to engage and train in preparation for an imminent return to the court.
Training sessions held via video conferencing mixed in with the odd cooking and trivia challenge have again become a common occurrence. However for one group of young girls, they received a very special opportunity this week when Australian Opals captain Jenna O’Hea joined in on their mid-week Google Meet conference call.
A former junior Spectres player herself, O’Hea logged on to help share her journey while keeping the girls engaged as they navigate another pandemic-related hurdle.
“The lockdown hurts the kids the most,” shared O’Hea. “We need to get them back on the court ASAP, so I was more than willing to have a chat and share my experience if it helps keep them motivated and involved.
“I played with the EBees in the domestic competition, and then when I was 7 I tried out for the Spectres and made the 12.4’s. I loved my time with the Spectres and had so many great coaches in that time. Most of these girls are at the very same age and stage of their journey as when I started my career — it’s kind of like going full circle!”
From being asked to name all the pro teams she has played for, through to comparing notes as to how much training she used to undertake when she was playing in under 12s – O’Hea expertly navigated a myriad of questions from an inquisitive group of excited young girls who were eager to learn from one of their idols.
“It’s so important for girls to have role models they can relate to, and there is none better than the Opals captain who also just happened to start her career with Nunawading Basketball in the 12.4’s!” shared Damian Arsenis, coach of the 12.4 girls. “It was so nice of Jenna to give up her time for this group of girls, and it goes to show the quality of person she is, to give back to where it all started for her.
“Who knows, but perhaps one or more of these young ladies could follow the same path? One thing is for sure, the girls were inspired tonight.”
While everyone awaits with anticipation of a return to the court and competition, Director of Coaching Tamie Harvey reinforced the fact that Nunawading continues to be a breeding ground of success.
“Nunawading is where it all started for Jenna, but it doesn’t stop there. Bec Allen and Alanna Smith who are also in the Opals Olympic team were also Spectres juniors. We continue to have representation in Victorian state teams and national junior squads. Both out under 14 boys and girls teams have qualified for the National Club Championships later this year.”
“Nunawading is a destination of choice and continues to not only produce quality basketballers but also quality people like Jenna. Lou Brown who returned from college and is playing in NBL1, is also coaching the under 16 girls – she’ll be playing with the Melbourne Boomers next season too.
“Giving back to your junior club and inspiring the next generation is the ultimate payback. Now we just need to have the COVID restrictions eased so the kids can all return to the court and channel that inspiration.”