By DEBBIE HARDWICK
TWO young Coffs Harbour superstarz have been selected by Basketball New South Wales to undertake the Gold Intensive Training Centre Program Scholarship.
This program operates under the guidance of the NSW State ITCP.
Head coach, Brett Coxsedge said the aim of Basketball Australia's National Intensive Training Centre Program is to identify outstanding basketball athletes, aged between 14-17 years, and develop their mental skills, individual skills and team concepts which will enable them to compete successfully at National and International level.
Hayley Cassell says she was shocked but really excited, when she learned of her selection as an Under 15 athlete.
But coach and mentor Ken Lowry says that Hayley has worked hard to reap her reward.
Now in her sixth year of representative basketball, Hayley has been involved in various training camps, attended the 2004 Talented Athlete program, represented her school, her zone and her region with many successes, and received many awards for both basketball and athletics.
Sport is her passion and Hayley was extremely proud when she received Junior Sports Person of the Year 2006 at the Coffs Harbour City Council Australia Day awards.
Each year the Quota Club nominates a junior for this award, who has achieved well and who they feel is a good ambassador for the area.
This award recognized Hayley's contribution to junior basketball as a masterful player, team captain under 12's, under 14's and currently under 16's, and her participation representing Country New South Wales on tour in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Ashlea Brennan had an indescribable feeling when she found out about her Gold scholarship selection for her aptitude as an Under 17 basketballer.
This is something she has been yearning for and working towards since 2000 when she first dribbled a ball on the court.
Her exceptionally accomplished career has been highlighted with many accolades and awards, but she feels that her best sporting moment was being a member of the New South Wales Under 16 State team and winning silver at the Australian Nationals tournament in Perth.
Ashlea's selection in the State team recognized her contribution to junior basketball as a skilful defensive player, 2005 Coffs Harbour junior representative female player of the year and her participation representing Country New South Wales on tour in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Both girls agree that basketball is fun and they appreciate all the assistance and guidance they have received from family, friends and mentors.
They also admit that their never say die attitude helps them perform to their best ability.
As they each have high aspirations for their future in basketball, All Aussies, Nationals and the Olympics, they must dedicate part of every day to encompass the rigors of a monitored home training program including fitness and basketball individual skills.
Coffs Harbour Basketball Association and its members wish Ashlea and Hayley all the best in their future endeavours.