TOWNSVILLE JUNIORS HOOP DREAMING
Ever since the age of three I have had one thing in my life beside family stay constant through my growth and development as a human being on this earth, my love for sports and my passion for basketball. I have had many coaches and even more teammates over the years all bringing with them, their own perspective and interpretations on how to play the sport I love. Like anything in life, certain things have their ups and downs and their good and bad; when you love something for so long it's hard to lose that connection. The bond with a son’s mother or a daughter’s father, whatever the circumstances is unbreakable. My bond with the sport that has given me so much at one stage in my life was just the same. I couldn't picture a life where I wasn't on a basketball court with my friends doing what I love.
My love and passion for this game allowed me to get to a point where I was good enough to be noticed by American colleges. I never really knew much about the whole idea until 6 months before my time to go on the journey of a life time came. I got recruited, with the help of coaches I had met over the years, to a school in the beautiful but crazy city of Los Angeles. Now a kid like me growing up could only dream about living in such a place. My excitement and terror was all a bit much for the month before I finally touched down in the big city. Walking out of LAX for the first time was something I will never forget. Not to mention this was only my second time out of the country, with my first experience being 33 days before that on a basketball tour. I was a newly turned 18 year old and had no clue what was waiting for me in this new city, new country and new continent.
My first day was a day that I will never forget, I could explain every detail on what I did during that day. It was July 10th and I touched down at 6:43am. As I got through customs I finally got to meet the first member of the coaching staff. He took me to a little restaurant named Dinah’s where I still remember looking at the menu and thinking “what the heck... Who puts chicken and waffles together?” I ordered a chocolate chip waffle and went on with the day. That was when I first saw the campus that was Loyola Marymount University (LMU). Obviously, being recruited by LMU was something I knew nothing about; the coaches the school and other variables you can think of, I knew nothing. After doing some research on the school and coaches it seemed like a good spot to be but once I got through those gates it was better than I had expected. It is still one of the prettiest schools I've seen around the world (Australia, Spain, China and USA included).
My first year brought many new and exciting experiences. I got to travel to Spain and Hawaii and all the way up and down the west coast, but the basketball aspect was the most surprising. All these guys I played with and against were bigger, faster and stronger than anything I was used to back home. Getting to learn how to cope with this new and exciting style was something very different for me. Nothing could ruin my first year of living in America no matter how bad our team performed or how financially difficult it was to enjoy the city to the fullest, my first year was great! The only negative, as many can attest to, is home sickness.
I was very naive to anything going on with me in school or basketball, I just wanted to do whatever I could to make the best impression I could. By the time the year was over it was easy to say that the team had a very less than successful year and a lot of people were unhappy. Many players graduated or left the team after my first season. After a whirlwind 10 months it was time to go home where I enjoyed seven weeks in Townsville which flew by way to quick… it was time to start my sophomore year.
College is quite different to home in terms of the academic side of their education system. Any college you go to there will be the philosophy of educating the whole person. What this means is even though you are a marketing major like me you will be taking health class or acting classes unrelated to your degree. These classes depending on what professor you get aren't too stressful to complete and do well in. My second year I started some of my major courses and this is where it got difficult.
The work load for a division one student athlete can be quite hectic. We would practice in the summer 3 times a day in the morning, afternoon and then come back later that night to shoot. Even with the increase in class work the coach expected similar work schedules for getting in the “gym” or court to get extra shots. Now it might sound daunting but it is very manageable. You learn to take quick naps and work while you are tired which is the best thing I learnt in my time at LMU.
The second year was on its way and the first day was like meeting a whole new team. We had 8 new guys and there was a lot of learning to do! In my freshman year classes were relatively easy to complete. The basketball season started and it was much like the last, a lot of losing a few good wins but overall not the season that you and your teammates have. Everyone wants to win and it's an extremely difficult thing to do! At the division 1 level a bad game is unacceptable because it can lead to a 30 beating by well-established teams like Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU. The best thing about playing in Division 1 was these teams had gyms better than the pro’s in Australia. Playing in front of 18,000 people at BYU was an incredible experience and one I will never forget.
After this season I had gained a lot more experience on the court, I had played 15 minutes per contest and started 13 games, but the space in between my 2nd and 3rd year was rough for me. I had come home for my, at this point typical 7 week holiday and something was off… I would have trouble sleeping and my will to go to the basketball court and work to get better in order to be able to make my mark even bigger on the team for next year, had died. My days were better off staying away from basketball for the most part. After my freshman season I practiced with the Townsville Heat QBL team and enjoyed every second of it. My second summer (or winter time in Australia) I didn't want to go!
Thinking back to when I was a child I couldn't really imagine my life without basketball... and here I was contemplating if I still wanted to do this thing anymore. The only thing that fueled me was the friends and teammates I had to lean on. If these people weren't as good to me as they were, I may not be where I am now.
Now back in the US for the start of my 3rd year and it was time for me to put my best foot forward and, as bad as my thoughts about basketball at this time was, I was willing to give my best. We played a Chinese team and for the time I was in I played solid basketball. 2/3 from distance, 3/5 from the field and solid defense. That's when everything went downhill for me. We went to the locker room and there was a bit of a disagreement and it lead me to make the decision to leave LMU. Now I could not be more thankful for the opportunity that I was given but it just wasn't for me anymore. I felt like most of my closest friends on the team had graduated or left for multiple of reasons and I needed a change.
This started a new and first time experience of the recruiting process which is awesome, all these teams want you and tell you all these great things and feed you delicious meals by Hermosa and Manhattan Beach. I was recruited by 3 teams and decided to go with California State University San Marcos, a growing university in a northern county of San Diego, California. I chose this school for the location and the fact that I had a good relationship with a former LMU assistant who decided to coach elsewhere.
There's a huge difference between division 1 and division 2 basketball, for starters, the work load is nowhere near the same. Work hours per week consist of 8 in the off season and 20 hours during the season. It makes you more dependent on your work ethic to become the best player you can. In Division 1, the coach has a lot to do with how much you work out and D2 it's all on you. My first season at the new school is coming to an end and it has been a great change for me. I am shooting well, my defense and rebounding has improved and my confidence has been restored. And I'm finally looking forward to being on a basketball court everyday unlike days in the past. So if you're not happy with a situation there are plenty of schools and it's just about finding one that fits you.
I have rediscovered the passion to work hard again and my coach has been really good for me in giving me freedom on the court to let me develop my whole game, rather than just be strictly a shooter at the D1 level. I thought it was awesome to play division 1 basketball but it doesn't always live up to the hype if you aren't the top player on the team.
“We’re building a culture of accountability, trust, and togetherness. Entitlement will not be tolerated” – Brad Stevens
By Josh Spiers, Former Cannons junior and A Grade player.
STATS UPDATE FOR ALL OF OUR TOWNSVILLE JUNIORS WHO ARE "HOOP DREAMING" IN THE USA
Georgia Williams – Valley City State University in North Dakota – Sophmore
14.8ppg @ 41%FG (36% from 3)
3.4rpg 2.5apg 1.8spg
27.2mins per game
Josh Spiers – Cal State University at San Marcos in San Diego – Junior
12.6ppg @ 46.5%FG (46.8% from 3)
4.8rpg 1.3apg 0.8spg
30.4mins per game
Alicia Froling – Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas – Junior
14.9ppg @ 54%FG
10.5rpg 2.1apg 0.5spg 1.4bpg
32.9mins per game
Alicia scored her 1000th point at a Mustang in a 66-45 win over Houston on Jan 24th.
Harry Froling – Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Freshman
Signed to Marquette in January and must sit out the season. He is able to train with the team and attend classes but not play games under the transfer rules of the NCAA.
Ethan Betts – Umpqua Junior College in Oregon – Freshman
11.4ppg @ 53%FG
5.9rpg 4apg 2.5spg
35.8mins per game