Force with new coach
ANDREW Summerville has probably the hardest job in Ipswich sport next year, filling Shane Heal's shoes as coach of the Ipswich Force, but when asked how he planned to follow an Australian basketball icon he had just two words.
The 34-year-old will take up the vacant head coaching position around Christmas after moving from his current home in South Australia where he has coached the Mt Gambier Pioneers in the SEABL for the past two seasons.
Now, a family business opportunity in Brisbane combined with a vacant Ipswich Force coaching position proved too good to pass up despite offers to coach in both Western Australia and Victoria.
Summerville's coaching resume makes impressive reading.
He has already coached at QBL level with the Bundaberg Bulls in 2006, and enjoyed stints in the US and Canadian College systems, first at Martin Methodist College, Tennessee and then for three years at the University of Toronto where he worked closely with NBA club the Toronto Raptors' summer league squad.
Summerville also spent 2004 as an assistant coach for the Brisbane Bullets in the NBL and is looking forward to moving back to south-east Queensland.
"I had a few offers but the more I looked into Ipswich and spoke to Pat (Ralph) and Neil (Coupland), it seemed like a place that would be a good fit for me," he said.
"Everything just fell into place with the job and family business so it was just the right timing in the end."
For many coaches, the idea of replacing Australian basketball legend Heal would prove too much to handle but for Summerville the challenge doesn't change.
"Shane Heal is a great personality but the fact he coached this team last year doesn't make any difference to me personally," he said.
"Obviously Hammer did a great job but there's no pressure on me, I'm Andrew Summerville and I can only do what Andrew Summerville does.
"I'll coach the team the way I know best and the way I've developed over the last 15 years.
"I'm sure there'll be some similarities.
"I've heard he's a pretty demanding coach and so am I but I'll be doing it the only way I know."
The first challenge facing the new coach when he arrives in Ipswichwill be retaining some of the players that took the Force to a semi-final appearance this season.
Almost every player interviewed this season cited Heal as a major drawcard for playing in Ipswich so Summerville will have to be a salesman as well as a coach.
"The team did a good job so it would be my job to get the majority of them back next year," he said.
Summerville also has experience with junior representative programs with Southern District Spartans and hopes to use that experience to improve the junior programs in Ipswich as well.
Summerville's coaching career highlights:
- 2010-11: Head Coach, Mount Gambier Pioneers, SEABL
- 2006-09: Assistant Coach, University of Toronto, Canada
- 2006: Head Coach, Bundaberg Bulls, QABL
- 2005: Assistant Coach, South West Metro Pirates, QABL
- 2004: Assistant Coach Brisbane Bullets, NBL
- 2002: Assistant Coach, Martin Methodist College, Tennessee, USA