My Whyalla Basketball Experience by Mike Osborne
I arrived in Whyalla in January 1972, newly married and school teacher at Whyalla High School.
I had played some District basketball with Glenelg and had taken up coaching early in my career and loved it.
When I arrived in Whyalla I played with Brorowa at the McBryde Terrace courts. We did well but the team was reluctant to practice so I looked elsewhere after a while. I played for Magpies and Nomads, with Ray Girvan, over the next few years. Ray’s Nomads were in love with the sport and loved the challenge of improving their skills to a much higher level.
I was asked to coach the town team in my first year and gave it a go. During the first game at half time a few of the players lit up and pulled the top off a can and I knew my tenure was not for long !!
I then looked to get a group of younger players to work with and stumbled on a small group of players (Playing for Magpies Under 16s) really keen to learn as their appetite had been whetted by John Rumball ( a really good coach and was great with the kids). Both of us made skill development a priority and set up regular practice sessions.
The group included Chris Cowan, Peter Rumball, Anthony Flanegan and Trevor Castle. With the addition of Whyalla Combined team representatives the group later included Gary and Ricky Chesson, Kym Borrett, and Greg Balnaves . Apologies for not including others as time has dimmed my memory.
People who were instrumental at the time were Allan Castle, Val Robson, Elaine and Bruce Dunn, Barry Waddingham, John Kirby, Kym Marsden, Graeme and Barb Stringer, Gunther Scheide , the Matchett family and John Spooner. (among others)
I know Wayne Chivell ( later the State Coroner ) did get involved in getting the new stadium built.
John Spooner and I then set about giving this group playing experience outside of Whyalla so travelled often to Adelaide and other country centres to get as much playing experience indoors as possible.
By the time this group were around 16 years old they were able to play senior basketball and once we moved indoors their development accelerated to the point that Whyalla had as many players in State country teams as Mt Gambier with their years of those playing conditions.
The group did cause some consternation in Whyalla as some were gifted footballers and chose to play basketball instead as they could go to National championships as a representative of the State.
Trevor Castle went on to be a very good coach in Whyalla, coaching SA Country teams in National Championships, Kym Borrett represented Australia and played in the early years of the National Basketball League with the City of Adelaide Eagles and then the Adelaide 36ers, Peter Rumball also played State Under 20s with WA and the others (Chris Cowan, Ricky Chesson, Anthony Flanegan) played State basketball as well.
My reason to move on from Whyalla was to further my coaching career and this was difficult as our family thoroughly enjoyed the life in Whyalla.