Basketball Powerhouse in the South

Term 1 Basketball

Written by: Zac Piesse

Old Virgilian (2011) and current staff member at St Virgil's College.

Basketball has always enjoyed strong participation levels at St Virgil’s College. In 2021 SVC has fielded an incredible sixteen teams across Year 7 to 10, with a significant number signed up to represent the Junior school later this year.

It is a Tuesday afternoon in the Edmund Rice Hall, the familiar screeches of shoes on the court, and the claps from the crowd as family and classmates alike cheer on the mighty blue, green and gold of SVC. The hall is particularly vibrant. It is Grand Final Day. The Year 7s are competing against MacKillop College and the Year 8s, the old foe, Hutchins. Whilst a large proportion of students that are competing in these finals, might also play club basketball, playing for St Virgil’s is clearly special. 

The passion that the students have for all College sports is immense, but the current popularity of basketball seems to have taken this to a new level. Of a recess and lunchtime, one of the first things that can be heard from the classroom, is a student rushing as fast as they can, to be the first to arrive at one of the basketball rings with the best net and hoop. What follows is a distinct clank of the rim and the backboard, as enthusiastic students try to recreate the shooting prowess of NBA Superstar Steph Curry. 

The growth in the sport and its profile amongst boys is inextricably linked to the popularity of the professional game in the United States and also nationally with the NBL. Former student, Callum Barker, would use the hall prior to school beginning during the week, to continually be working on his craft, and has since gone on to play in the NCAA college system in the US and also the NBL1, the Second Division Basketball Competition in Australia. If the momentum of basketball continues It won’t be long until others who have proudly worn the SVC singlet will get their opportunity to play in the NBL – or even the NBA! Callum’s skills and game sense were clearly honed at club and school level, but it is at recess and lunchtime where any students love for the game really begins to shine through.

I attended the Year 7, 8 and 9 SATIS Basketball Grand Finals this week where it was clearly evident that the love of Basketball at St Virgil’s is strong. All teams that participated in a Grand Final managed to be victorious in their interschool sport glory. Anthony Volta captained the winning Year 8 team. He spoke about the journey with his teammates that they had been on to win the title after being presented the trophy. Whilst an eight week season resulting in a Grand Final win isn’t the most storied of sporting journeys, the path from Year 7 through to a statewide final in Year 11 and Year 12 will be. The opportunities that any basketballer at the College will create, provides quite the sporting journey for any Virgilian.

The Year 9 team won their Grand Final against MacKillop College. They have had the benefit of the majority of the boys in the squad having attended the College since they were in year 3. In an incredible record, they have not lost a game in the entire time that they have been playing together. Winning the SATIS Competition, and also the Southern and State Schools Basketball competitions by a rather healthy margin. Their coach, Charlotte Collins has coached the team since Year 3, and has had the benefit of watching them grow from boys into young men. This group will be the first group to go from Year 3 through to Year 12. 

“To be able to represent SVC in any sport is an honour and one that all the boys take very seriously. It’s a time where I find the boys put aside any outside club rivalry and come together as one. Some boys are from long chains of Old Virgilians, and some are first time Virgilians in their family, but regardless of it they understand the importance of it.”

Charlotte Collins

Charlotte is also employed by Basketball Tasmania and has had two of her boys come through the St Virgil’s Basketball Programme - eldest son, Izach (SVC 2013 – 2017) and  Jaxsyn (Year 9). Basketball as a sport is moving from strength to strength and having a Tasmanian NBL team will only continue to bolster this. Charlotte believes that showing sportsmanship, pride and respect are at the core of any Basketball team at SVC, and in order to compete in the SATIS Level, or the higher High School Championship Level for the college, it is integral to have these characteristic traits. Charlotte’s Year 9 team is the epitome of this. Watching them compete in their Grand Final without ego or arrogance, despite their prior accomplishments is what all sports at the College should strive to emulate.

Jaxsyn Collins (Year 9), has had the benefit of representing the College at the SATIS and School Championship level every year at SVC and is planning on staying until the end of year 12. 

“There is a lot of pride and honour that goes with representing St Virgils, every year we manage to be successful and this makes me proud to play for the college. We (my teammates and I) never get to play with each other that often and being able to play together for the school is a great time. I have seen the GYC teams go through and they play with a lot of spirit too, but I think that mainly comes from the boys that have gone here. We have a great team.”

Jaxsyn Collins 

The sport of basketball is set to continue to grow in Tasmania, and the College is in the beneficial position of having a thriving basketball programme already. Through the efforts of parents, and many others over time at the College, the sport will remain as one of the most popular and most successful sports.