Coaches Corner: Nigel Hanson

In the latest in our Coaches Corner series, we sit down with Bournville College’s Head Coach, Nigel Hanson.

1) How did you first get into coaching? Did you used to play, if so for who/what level?
I first got into coaching when I was still a player for Birmingham Bullets back in the late 80’s under the guidance of Dave Fisher who at the time was a national team coach. In those days I used to work in the office for Harry Wrubleski and organised all the community coaching for the players.

I played at every level as a Junior, the national team coach at that time was Humph Long. I played alongside guys like John Amaechi (Manchester Magic) & David Lavinier (East London Eagles) before moving up to the North West as a 19 year old to play for Oldham Celtics as their starting off guard in Division 1 where we won two League titles, two play-off titles and the National Cup in two very successful seasons. We also represented England in Europe in the Old Korac Cup beating Monaco in Monte Carlo!

After two seasons in Oldham I moved back to Birmingham and won my third Division 1 Play-off title as their starting point guard winning promotion to the then Budweiser League (now the BBL).

2) How was your transition into coaching? What were the biggest difficulties at first?
My transition into coaching was purely accidental. When my mother died in 1999 I wanted to do something positive with a small inheritance she had left me. I started Aston Athletics Basketball Club CIC as a way of providing Birmingham a community based basketball club for 19+ adults.

In those days there were literally no other clubs in the city focused at providing basketball for people living in north Birmingham. We started out in the Local league but soon realised that the talent was here to play national league. At that time most of the coaches from the old days had retired or moved on so there was little choice but to coach the team. In our first season we finished equal first in Division 3 and won the National Shield. Originally we only had the men’s senior programme but as my son grew older I decided that it would be best if I coached him personally so we started Birmingham A’s U13’s in 2009.

3) What is you biggest career coaching achievement to date?
I’ve been fortunate to have been very successful for each of the last five decades at the club level and can say without fear of contradiction that winning the U18’s Sure Shot Cup in 2014 was the pinnacle for me as a club coach; particularly given the fact that the U18’s Northern & Southern Premiere Leagues were so strong at that time.

However, for me personally my greatest career coaching achievement has been leading the U17’s regional programme to respectability in the Regional Development Tournaments. In 2014, the boys finished 4th which had been the highest finish for 20 years and in September 2015 the boys went undefeated beating all opponents by at least double digits. The amount of work and preparation that went into that and the commitment shown by the players made me proud to coach the team.

4) What is the best part of your job?
Developing young men and women into productive members of society through the provision of basketball.

5) What is the worst part of your job?
De-selecting players from regional squads and dealing with the politics of basketball in this country.

6) Who have been the biggest influences on your coaching career and why? What did they teach you?
Over the last 35 years, three coaches have stood out for me and had a serious influence on my coaching. They were; Dave Fisher, who taught me as a youngster the fundamentals of the game, both in terms of technique and strategy; Cleave Lewis, who taught me how to prepare a professional basketball team in terms of preparing for games, individual workouts and the need for watching game tape (which wasn’t easy in the late 80’s!); and finally, Kevin Cadle, who just new how to win!

7) What is your coaching philosophy?
I take pride in being the best defensive team in any league we play in, aiming to keep opponents under 60 points, out rebounding opponents both ends of the floor and looking after the ball. If we do those three things we normally win the game.

8) What advice would you have for young aspiring player?
Choose your coach wisely, work harder and smarter than your competitors and finally, play basketball with no fear; it’s just a game after all!

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