Centaine Noom-Duckworth heading to Drake University

Harbour Basketball wish to congratulate Centaine Noom-Duckworth on accepting a scholarship offer at Drake University.

This story is slightly different in that the Rangitoto College Prems and Harbour Basketball representative has accepted a Track and Field scholarship not a basketball scholarship that we usually report on.

A multi-sport athlete Centaine played basketball since her younger school days at Murrays Bay Primary. She has played Harbour reps since U13’s and still loves the game immensely.

I’ve never forgotten my first nationals down in Dunners! It’s cool to see that so many of us from that age group are still playing and are even playing in college now!” 

Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa is a prestigious institution and Centaine is looking forward to next year when she will begin her 4-year scholarship.

Drake is a pretty amazing school in terms of educational opportunity - I’ve been told they’re known as the Harvard of the Midwest, so that’s pretty mean. They have small student to professor class ratios as well so I know that I’ll get the most out of my classes. 

“Sport-wise, they’re a track and field centred college so have some fantastic facilities. Coach Zane Chapman is really cool guy too, he’s chill as and is so passionate about his athletes and throwing, and we get along well! When he offered me a full-ride scholarship I was sold - getting a free education while playing sports I love is such a blessing. I’ll be looking for opportunities to keep developing my basketball while I’m over there as well!” 

Centaine will be specialising in the throwing events and competing for the Drake Bulldogs in the hammer and discuss.

The North Harbour Bays and Auckland representative is currently the New Zealand Under 20 National Champion in that discipline.

“I started throwing seriously around the end of 2016, pretty much when I moved to my current coach. I was already throwing the discus because of junior athletics but he started me on hammer for a bit of fun. As he says, I contracted the “hammer virus” pretty much straight away, and haven’t stopped since.”

Her coach is the former French Athletics National Coach Didier Poppe who many will remember was Valerie Adams Coach at one time.

Winning the national title was a career highlight for Centaine.

“Taking out the title after months of working and making little tweaks always feels so good!”

Centaine has had her fair share of adversity in the last couple of years with much of 2019 written off due to injury due to having surgery on her calves

Then this year the Rangitoto Head Girl has been at the forefront of the challenges Covid-19 has posed at school.

“To say that this year has been crazy is definitely an understatement. It’s been a tough one, but one for the books for sure. 

“I’m beyond blessed to be part of a team of four head students at Rangi, and the lockdowns definitely put a lot of pressure on our classmates so we needed to make sure our positivity and presence as leaders were heard despite not being physically in the same place, and a lot of that happened through social media. 

“We just wanted to make sure that everyone was coping and doing the best they could despite the circumstances. It was tough considering we ourselves weren’t exempt from the pressures of being confined at home either but this year’s been about pushing through everything life throws. 

“As an athlete, I personally found the lockdowns pretty tough as I love training with other people, especially when you’re a part of a team like in basketball. That time together is crucial to get know how each other play, and it was really weird everything being so uncertain, like if we would even end up playing at all. 

“The few games that our prems team did play together were so worth it though. ‘Play every game like it’s your last’ really did come into play this year. But at the end of the day we all knew it was for the best, and Covid’s had way too much game time this year so hopefully it can get side-lined for good soon enough! 

Despite this year’s disappointments Centaine still has plenty of basketball memories to cherish.

“Secondary Schools Nationals are always a vibe! The memories we’ve made down in Palmerston North, regardless of winning or losing games, will always stick with me. It’s such a massive reminder that basketball is so much bigger than just the game. It’s disappointing that we seniors missed out on so much in our last year, but it is what it is and heaps of opportunities will come later anyway! 

Centaine has also been to a number of Basketball New Zealand High Performance Camps.

“The NZ camps with my Junior Tall Ferns girls have been memorable. Being surrounded by such a great group of girls with work ethics that are out of this world and amazing coaches, with everyone pushing each other to be at their best, the environment’s just crazy. 

There are numerous people that Centaine has to thank for helping her fulfil her sporting ambitions.

“My whānau in general, especially my parents. Most of the family plays sport so it was just a given that I would! I’m beyond blessed that my mum and dad have given me so many opportunities to play so many sports growing up, and Mum being a baller and having done athletics herself back in the day has definitely influenced my passion for those.

“Fata Letoa also had a massive influence on my game even though he only coached me for a short amount of time - he always believed in me and had my back and I’ll always remember his ‘train to dominate’ concept. He’s the man for real.

“And I have to mention Chanel and Tony Pompallier! They gave me so much confidence on and off the court when I first made the Rangi Premier Basketball team in Year 10. I definitely would not have the mindset I have now if it wasn’t for the combination of so many influences on my life, both in and out of sport.”

Despite having to spend more time in a throwing cage than on a playing court for the next little while Centaine is certain she is not lost to basketball. “There’s no way I’m giving up the game anytime soon. I feel like I’ve got so much further to go with basketball and I’ve gained so much confidence on the court being in a leadership role on our prems team this year. 

“I honestly can’t really compare athletics with basketball considering individual and team sports are so different. To be part of a team is something I value so much! Basketball has already taught me loads both on and off the court and I’m ready for a few more lessons yet.”

She’s also happy that one of her teammates from the Rangi Prems team will also be in the States at the same time.

Waiaaria Riley, who’s one of my best friends, is hooping basically up the road at Marshalltown Community College so that is a bonus!”

The18-year old also has plenty of academic ambition as she will be studying astrophysics at Drake.

“Working at our own Rocket Lab here in NZ could be pretty cool in the future.” 

With her talent and ambition we are sure Centaine’s career is just about to take off – we wish her well.


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