When you start making Country Victorian teams, it's a natural assumption that you are comfortable putting lots of points on the board unless you are a point guard. For Deklan O'Toole, that assumption couldn't be more wrong. For Deklan, he is much more comfortable setting up for a team mate than he is taking over a game. But his deferential manner of playing is not the only unusual thing about his selection into the Country Victorian team at the Southern Cross Challenge. Deklan was forced to watch from the stands during the Gold Nugget camp with a broken arm. But his body of work during the Academy sessions and camps was enough to secure selection.
"The number one thing I learnt at the Southern Cross Challenge was whenever you come to any game ,or training, always be ready to give 110% both physically and mentally," O'Toole said. "You can always improve your skills as an individual and a team on the court and on the sideline."
For Deklan, the Southern Cross Challenge was a chance to celebrate a year of hard work on the court. "When I found out that I got selected to represent Country Victoria at the Southern Cross Challenge I was extremely excited because after 20 weeks of hard work and dedication it all had paid off," O'Toole said. "I was glad that I could improve my skills further, and play at such a high level, with very skilled players and with extremely knowledgeable coaches."
One thing that stood out for Deklan was the step up in what was required when playing at the elite level. "Training at academy compared to stingrays, was more intense psychically, as well as mentally, due to having to take notes, learning a lot of new drills, as well have having to study the drills to enable you to play as well as the player beside you," O'Toole said.
Deklan won't be resting on his laurels though, using this selection as a springboard for the next years. "My highlight of the tournament was working with my coaches, developing as a player, representing Country Victoria and also representing Corio Bay Basketball," said O'Toole. "All in all I took many things away and would love to do it again."
2017 has proved to be one of the most successful for the Corio Bay Basketball Associations, with a record number of players and coaches involved with the Basketball Victoria Country Academy program. Katrina Cochrane, Mia Haritos, Grace Josipovic, Amber Kelly and Samantha Kelly will represent the girls whilst Brodie Crompton, Deklan O'Toole, Ethan Powe, Jamie Ryan, Fergus Sharp, Kane Thornburgh and Marcus Wharton are the boys representatives. Coaches involved in the BVC Skills Day and Academy program are Joel Anderson, Abby Loughead, Hugh Moor, Mitchell Stoop and Dan Coles.
The 2017 BVC Regional Academy will be a 20-week program that includes two camps and develops individual’s skills and team concepts. It forms the selection process for the Gold Nugget Camp and ultimately, the Australian Junior Country Cup and Southern Cross Challenge in January 2018.
"We put a big focus on preparing our players for the Academy program," Director of Coaching Joel Anderson said. "We identified at the end of the 2016 season that our players need more exposure to the BVC Style of Play, language and drills if they were going to be successful at the next level."
What has made implementing this change in philosophy easier has been the number of coaches involved in the program. "Early on we only had one coach in the BVC program. Now we have quite a few," Anderson said. "This means they are able to bring what they have learnt back to their respective teams."
President Mike Nelson reflected on the change in the CBBA representative levels since their early days. "We have always produced Country Victorian players, but we would only have 1 or 2 representatives in an age group," Nelson said. "I remember when the amount of kids trying out was the same as the kids we had selected this year. To have the numbers have now is a testament to the hard work being done."
What is the most pleasing is the number of girls representing the program. "We've always been traditionally strong in the boys side," Anderson said. 'But to have all these girls in the BVC program is going to set us up for the next few years."
Congratulations to all our players and coaches and best of luck for the 2017 Academy program.