Coach Saville’s gap year

Smithton Basketball Club’s Danyon Saville is determined to make his gap year count and is doing just that as he develops his skills as a player and a coach. Picture: Ashleigh Force. 

Experience. When Danyon Saville was first encouraged to play basketball he was not impressed.

“I didn’t even like it at first. Mum (Jodie) pretty much made me play,” he laughed.

But as time wore on, Saville’s opinion of the game improved and was replaced by the passion he has for basketball today.

“Over time I began to like it more and more, until it took over my life,” he joked.

Now Saville has found himself deferring his Bachelor of Science at the University of Tasmania for 12 months to further develop his skills as a player and a coach.

The Tall Timbers Smithton Saints Men’s player first discovered a feel for coaching while working with Smithton Basketball Club’s former American import, Rhonda Price, as an assistant coach with the U/14 Girls.

Now head coach of the Saints’ U/16 Boys, Saville has added a collection of coaching roles to his resume of late, including learning valuable coaching and playing skills at Future Development Programs (FDP) and State Development Programs (SDP).

“As you get older [the game] gets really technical – I love that. That’s why I enjoy coaching, I love the technical side of things,” the 18-year-old said. 

Travelling to Albury, New South Wales in January, Saville said the experience he gained from the country’s most elite coaches at the 2016 Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup – where he was an assistant coach for Tasmania’s U/14 girls – was immeasurable.

“I definitely learnt a lot from it, the opportunity to go away and spend a week picking the minds of really experienced coaches . . . what an experience!”

Since his return, Saville has run a tight schedule in preparation for the start of the North West Basketball Union’s junior roster on Sunday April 10. He trains the Saints’ U/16 Boys twice a week including a before-school, 6.30am session on Tuesdays.

“It’s actually worked well! We’ve had good numbers at training in the morning, it’s been good.”

Juggling this commitment and time travelling to FDP and SDP clinics, Saville has also employed his skills to deliver development clinics at schools within the region with the help of Smithton Basketball Club import April Perry.

“Basically we’re just trying to get more kids interested in basketball and having fun with it,” he said.

Having visited Forest, Stanley and Edith Creek primary schools, St Peter Chanel Catholic School and Circular Head Christian School several times so far, Saville is taking the fresh challenge in his stride, describing the differences between coaching at primary and high school level.

“With the young kids it’s more about teaching basic skills, just get them moving and running around – I really enjoy doing that sort of stuff with the little kids,” he said.

He also runs a junior development program of a Monday night for Smithton Basketball Club players.

“It’s similar to an FDP. It’s about making them smarter and more skilled players while preparing them for tryouts.

“It can be really overwhelming at FDP and SDP tryouts . . . This way they can learn at a younger age, they’re in a familiar environment where I can help and they can learn.”

While Saville is the first to admit his gap year will present further opportunities and challenges, he’s taking it all in his stride.

“I wasn’t sure if I would have time to do something like this later in life, so I took the opportunity and now I love doing it.”

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