Basketball provision at Woodham Academy has always been something that the school has rightly been proud of. A proven track record and extensive list of students who go on to earn regional and national honours is testimony to the high quality opportunities and provision Woodham students can enjoy.
In recent times 2 students have made the England National Under 16 squad and a further 20 have represented the North East Region at National Championships. As the 2013/14 season draws to a close, the Academy teams have enjoyed one of their most successful seasons ever.
The Year 7 team have won the Durham Wildcats Under 12 tournament and finished runners up in the schools county tournament. 7 members of the current team have been invited to attend the Regional Performance Programme to hone their skills and take the opportunity to showcase their skills to regional coaches.
The Year 9 team have proven to be unbeatable in all competitions they have entered during the course of the season. With North East point guard Ryan Harris orchestrating the plays, the team overcome all opponents in the Durham Sport County Championships, Durham Wildcats County Tournament as well as the Durham Wildcats CVL; winning all without losing a game during the season.
Basketball at Woodham is overseen by the expert eyes of Assistant Headteacher Danny Morgans who has extensive experience working with young players and developing their skills in preparing them for National League Competition.
Danny has been involved on a voluntary basis with Durham Wildcats Basketball Club for the last 10 years working in a variety of roles, extending from junior National League coaching U14,15,16 and 18 teams to Assistant Coach to Dave Elderkin with the men’s BBL team. During his time at Woodham, school teams have reached National Schools’ finals and semi finals and 5 teams have reached the last 32 and two players have been selected for the England Under 16 squad.
Having coached successful school teams, with 13 Woodham players representing the North East Region at England trials at Lilleshall in 8 years, Danny was approached by Durham Wildcats Head Coach, Dave Elderkin, to work on their junior national league programme. Danny has worked as assistant coach for the men’s BBL team during the 2012/13 season.
Danny has coached the Wildcats under 16 team to the league championships as well as coaching five Woodham school teams that reached at least the last 32 of the national schools tournament.
Danny has also coached two players, who he first encountered as novices, who have been selected in a 20 player England squad, one of whom has played for England. During the 2013/14 season the U14 basketball team won a clean sweep of all County Durham and Durham Wildcats competitions.
The under 12s have enjoyed an excellent season having spent the year working with Durham Wildcat BBL player Mark Elderkin. Working on an intensive programme that is focused on developing fundamental skills, the team is technically extremely proficient and in later years their skill progression will be significantly enhanced through their experiences.
Most of the 12 strong squad were new to the game when starting Woodham in Year 7 and can be very proud of their development and performances this year. The team finished runners up in the Durham Sport County Finals as well as the local district schools competition, 2 players have also played an instrumental role in the under 14 team winning the Durham Wildcats CVL in the spring.
As a result of their skills, 7 players have been recommended to regional coaches and have been invited to attend the regional squad sessions and trials. Next year, as under 13s, the team will be entered into the English Schools National Competition where they will be able to apply their skills against more demanding opposition. In their hands, the future of Woodham Academy basketball continues to look very promising!
Winning all games and competitions that they entered, the under 14s have had a tremendous season. Next season they too will be able to showcase their skills on a national level having also been entered into the English Schools National Competition. In addition to the school competition, 4 have been invited to ply their trade and gain exposure to a significantly higher level of competitive basketball by playing for Durham Wildcats Under 16s in the England Basketball National League.
During the season, the team has won the Durham Sport County Finals, the Durham Wildcats festival as well as the Durham Wildcats Central Venue League competition. The latter being the most significant of the achievements due to the fact that largely the competition were made up of club sides who could call upon a player pool from much further afield.
It is also likely that 4 of the current squad will be training with the North East Regional squad with the opportunity to be selected to play in the regional competition that is effectively a trial from which the England Squad is selected.
Under 16s basketball seasons review
The highlight of the under 16s season was a visit to RAF Menwith Hill to play a game against the American High School team from their Air Force Base. Through the American Football teams involved in the European DODDS League, a good relationship has been developed between the two schools, and opportunities to provide high quality match experience has proved invaluable to both sets of students.
The under 16 team gives opportunities for the more able Year 9 students to gain more challenging experience and they are surrounded by 5 players in Years 10 and 11 all of whom have significant experience of National League Basketball; 4 with Durham Wildcats and 1 who has been a key player for both the Newcastle Eagles and the North East Regional side over the last few years.
Playing fixtures both home and away against an American High School provided the students with an exciting opportunity to play against their American counterparts the majority of whom will have had exposure to the game from a much younger age.
With the school having such strong partnerships with Durham Wildcats, regional coaches and local league clubs, largely due to the network of contacts that have been developed through their association with Woodham Academy Assistant Headteacher, Danny Morgans, aspiring basketballers can be assured of a high quality learning environment in which to develop their skills, as well as being introduced to an appropriate though challenging playing environment.
Taking into account the successes of the last 10 years Woodham Academy has quite rightly established itself as one of, if not the leading basketball provider of schools basketball in the north east. Players, teams and indeed the coach have gained recognition at national level. With that in mind and the continual developments that are being made to the programme of delivery, the future of basketball at Woodham Academy looks in a very healthy state.