As the WNBL season came to an end, so did the training sessions for the Rachael Sporn Academy.
The Rachael Sporn Academy is an initiative that stemmed from the desire of the current Adelaide Lightning coach, Chris Lucas, to reconnect with SA’s local female talent. Adelaide were lucky enough to have superstar Rachael Sporn not only put her name to the program, but also support the initiative as a hands-on coach for the girls.
Together, the WNBL club and Rachael Sporn launched the Academy in November last year. With the help of other key coaches, Marcus Wong, Brenton Johnstone, and Jo Hill, the program’s participants received high quality coaching both on and off the court.
For the first year of the Academy, the selection team invited 12 female players who had recently graduated from Basketball SA’s elite training program:
Aimee Brett (Forestville), Elissa Brett (Sturt), Juliet Gordon (Forestville), Hannah Lehman (Forestville), Abbie Mader (North Adelaide), Opal Mader (North Adelaide), Ashlyn Menz (Eastern), Meg Prosser (Forestville), Darcy Rees (Forestville), Hannah Stewart (Sturt), Zoe Walker-Roberts (Sturt), and Jasmine Fejo (West Adelaide).
The program, overseen by Chris Lucas, ran for the duration of the WNBL season with trainings concluding this week.
Marcus Wong, Lucas’ right-hand-man and Assistant Coach for the Adelaide Lightning, worked closely with each of the girls during their weekly 90-minute sessions held bright and early at Wayville Sports Centre.
“This has been a great initiative by the club and we have seen a great deal of improvement over the time we have spent with the athletes on game specific skills.”
“Being able to have athletes work on a ratio of two athletes to one coach has enabled us to provide each athlete with a greater level of feedback and teaching.”
Rachael Sporn, who was more than happy to be present for the 6am sessions each week, also saw great value in the smaller size of the group.
“All of the coaches are really looking forward to working closely with these wonderful athletes in the coming months and seeing first-hand the improvement and development in all aspects of their game.”
The Legend herself did a fantastic job of creating a strong culture between the girls, and develop a great working relationship between the coaches and the players.
“It was just great to see how hard the girls worked over each 90 minute session and we continued reiterated that basketball training is the highlight of their day (even when it is at 6am!), as ultimately it is what makes you a better player.”
Consistency from both the players and the coaches was what made the program so successful for its first year.
Wong, just like Sporn and the rest of the coaches, showed fantastic commitment to the girls and their progression.
“It is our goal to see these athletes progress as far as they can in their basketball careers and provide them with a pathway to progress to playing for the Adelaide Lightning.”
“To have such a champion in Rachael Sporn not only put her name to the academy but her time as a coach as well has been invaluable.”
Basketball SA would like to commend all involvement in the establishment and maintenance of this great program for the elite young women in our sport. The future is bright for both the participants, and the program.