The art of coaching is one that requires study, social skills and the constant drive to improve. We talked to a few coaches who, during their time, have encountered some speed bumps, learnt from their experiences, and adapted to improve both themselves and those around them.
Morgan Maskell is a Basketball Coordinator at Basketball Hawke’s Bay and Assistant Coach of the Taylor Hawks.
His coaching career started in his final year of high school as the coach of the Under-17 Boys’ team.
Maskell admits to having known very little about the technical aspects in the early stages.
“I wasn’t too familiar with the tactical side of basketball, but I was enthusiastic and wanted my players to feel confident.
“My first gig went so well that I asked Harbour Basketball if I could be an assistant coach in their representative programme.
“I have always believed in putting in the time and cutting your teeth to learn. That would be my advice to anyone wanting to get into coaching: be an assistant coach to as many different people as you can find.”
The first of many mentors for Maskell was former NZNBL player and coach Kenny Stone, where he assisted him in 2012 and 2013 with Harbour’s Under-15 Boys’ teams.
This was his first real exposure to the tactical side of basketball and Maskell says this is where he got a real lesson in the art of victory.
“Kenny taught me how to win. We were down 18 in the second quarter of 2013’s Under 15 grand final and Kenny was so calm and poised. The team took on his demeanour. We won by three.”
Maskell went on to coach the Rangitoto College Junior Premier teams to back-to-back titles, before taking up his first representative Head Coaching role with Harbour.
That same year, he was invited to the National Talent Programme Camp in Auckland. It was led by Dave Mackay, another coach who would have a big impact on his career.
“Mackay was another influence for me with his intelligent, calm and measured approach, which I learnt a lot from.”
Every opportunity Maskell could take up, he would. He assisted with the Breakers’ Academy in 2016 and 2017, and volunteered at several New Zealand camps.
This led to an assistant coaching role with the Under 16 Boys’ national team in 2017. The team was led by Zico Coronel who, again, was another source to learn from.
“Zico opened up so many rabbit holes for me. He was extremely knowledgeable due to the time he committed to learning and I wanted to soak up as much as I could.
“I feel lucky that I must have impressed enough and been in the right place at the right time so that when he became the Taylor Hawks Head Coach in 2018, he asked me to be the assistant coach.
“The Sal’s NBL has been a great learning curve and certainly a step up from junior basketball. The tactical chess match is extremely fun, and I love the challenge.”
Coaching is still very much voluntary for Maskell and that commitment to the job has come with its own set of hurdles and challenges. However, he still aspires to go as far as he can with coaching and says he hopes to continue as long as he can at any level.
In 2018, he was appointed Head Coach of the Under 15 Boys’ Aon New Zealand team, which competed at the FIBA Oceania Championship. Maskell says it was a surreal moment after years of hard work.
“It was an experience I will never forget and a real honour to wear the silver fern as a Head Coach.
“I loved that team and we came away with one win and one loss against Australia – both extremely close games.
“Winning championships become great memories, but it is so far down the list of what’s important.
“Helping players learn to become confident people who can solve problems with a great mindset and communication habits, that is what it’s all about. Championships don’t last, connections with players do.”
A student and advocate of ‘growth mindset’, it is clear Maskell is focused on improving season by season, learning everything he can.