By Mick Jensen
Wayne Rodgers has cemented himself a place among local basketball royalty and has been named a life member of Basketball Mid Canterbury.
Over 42 years of involvement in the game Mr Rodgers, whose nickname is “bait”, has been a player, coach, and enthusiastic promoter of the sport locally.
His playing days started as a mini ball player at St Joseph’s school.
As a teenager he played for Mid Canterbury and captained the Ashburton College A team for a couple of seasons.
He played at rep level, in local and social leagues until 2005, when he made the decision to switch to coaching.
“When you get a bit older and a bit slower you need to do the wise thing and pull the pin on playing.
“I had my own kids, so it was the right time to use my experience and to take it into coaching.”
Coaching started with Year 4 and Year 5 teams and progressed up the age group ranks.
Coaching has also taken him to Australia, first as the manager of the NZ Under 18 men’s team in Tasmania in 2011, and the following year with the NZ Under 20 team in Canberra.
Since 2012 Mr Rodgers has been the president of Basketball Mid Canterbury.
Late last year an initiative was launched to help upskill young players and to encourage a love of the game that will filter through all levels.
“Our academy model offers one hour of extra training for boys and another hour for girls once a week during the season.
“It’s a free invitation for players from Year 5 upwards, although we have a couple of younger players at the moment, to get targeted coaching that will improve their skills, encourage their enthusiasm and hopefully filter through to grow the game locally.”
Mr Rodgers said the game of basketball was a great team sport and occupied a lot of his spare time.
Winning was nice, he said, but the key was playing your best and participating.
He said his love of the game had been passed on by his late father.
“For me the payback is seeing the smiles on the kids faces and also the camaraderie of the basketball community.”
loyal local basketball stalwart, Steph Ching, also received a life membership from Basketball Mid Canterbury. Mrs Ching now lives on the West Coast, but is a regular return visitor for local basketball tournaments.