The NBL Weekend Takeover for 12/13 January will see the University of Chester take the reins of the NBL Instagram story.
We caught up with Coach Chris Wilson ahead of their takeover weekend, in our latest Coach Spotlight feature.
Name: Chris Wilson
Team: University of Chester - NBL Division Three (North)
What brought you into coaching?
The former coach of Ellesmere Port Panthers, Jimmy McGinn, stood down. Jimmy had pretty much coached all of the teams at the club on his own and it left a huge hole. Kim Leedham (Father of Jo Leedham) asked for as many people as possible to help out. I volunteered, along with my now wife and father in law!! That was 15 years ago now…
What were your original thoughts when you moved into coaching?
There was a lot to do. You weren’t just a coach – spending hours researching how to be a good youth coach, making sure subs were collected, organising transport to games! But above all, was the responsibility that came with being a youth coach. One parent used to say when we were travelling that we had ‘special cargo’ - that has always stuck with me.
What did you find most interesting to learn as a coach?
There is always something new to learn. There are always areas to improve on and new techniques to master. It’s highly rewarding if you’re prepared to approach it with your continuous improvement hat on.
What was the most rewarding part of your coaching journey so far?
Developing players and people. Lots of the players I coached as a junior coach at Ellesmere Port Panther – which became Cheshire Jets and is now Cheshire Phoenix, represented England at junior level and some went onto college in the US. Many of those who didn’t take that path have gone onto university or went into employment but they’re all giving back to the community in one way or another.
Which parts of coaching do you like the most?
I really enjoy seeing the tangible impact that we have as coaches. We all like to compete, but creating a high performing team from a group of individuals that can focus on a long term goal but not become too big to do the small things that need to be done provides me with huge gratification.
Where are you now? How are you using your coaching skills?
At the University of Chester – our team is a mix of current students and alumni. The University has been great at supporting us and coaching the team is so different to the years I spent coaching junior basketball. We’ve got 18 year-old freshers mixed with early 30s teachers, lawyers, nurses, a paediatric nutritionist and everything in between! It’s great though, the mix between youth and experience really helps but we all come together because we love basketball.
What is your coaching niche and why did you choose it?
I love to break down other teams. I love strategizing, bringing the team with me, getting their buy in and executing a plan. Why did I choose it? Although I’m the coach, the most powerful element of basketball is the team – planning and going on a journey together and having the resilience to achieve the goal is a huge thrill.
What is your coaching vision for the next 2 years?
I’d like the University to progress into the BUCS Premier and move up the National League ladder to NBL Division 2. We have a long term plan – we want to become more than a team and develop into a programme that attracts not just talent, but those willing to work hard. Niel Gillard, one of our players, is now the BUCS Coach and I believe that leaders create leaders. I’d like to develop another Niel over the next couple years!!
What is your favourite coaching question from athletes?
Are we stopping for food on the way home!! And when we do, watching them dart to the nearest fast food chain!
What advice do you have for those coaches currently in training?
Focus on the basics. Work on fundamentals – individually and from a team perspective. Get them right and then you can start to turn your team into a high performing group that can challenge for titles.
What legacy would you like to leave behind you?
I measure my effectiveness on the impact that I have. I ask myself the question “is this in a better place than the day I started”. Currently, at the University of Chester, the answer is yes. However, to move that question on and add in the layer of legacy I’d ask myself “if I walked away today, would the team self-sustain?” The answer to that is no at the moment. The legacy I’d like to leave would be to be able to answer that question with a yes.
You can follow Coach Wilson's progress this weekend when the University of Chester takeover the NBL Instagram story!