Twelve Days of Volunteering: Passions that leads to our youth, shooting for the stars!

Brett’s love of basketball led him to coach and volunteer at many clubs over the years.

He was eight years old when he first fell in love with the game of basketball.

“I started to play at the age of eight and after breaking my wrist at the age of fourteen, I was informed by the surgeon I wouldn’t be able to play for the next twelve to fourteen weeks. It was the end of the world for me and as any young person, I thought my life was over!”

This is when Brett decided that if I can’t play for the whole of the season, I would take on the role of coaching and become a volunteer.

Since 1995 Brett has coached every year at various clubs and at all levels, from local domestic, to U14 national championships and more recently was involved with professional players in the SEABL. “I’m still a long way to go to becoming a highly sort after or professional coach but will keep working on it.”

Brett first started coaching representative basketball at Pakenham, for the Pakenham warriors. Later he was recruited to their MMBL side for 2 short seasons. A lot of people influenced his choice to become a volunteer, including one of his biggest influencers, his Mum.

“She told me that I was a very good coach even at a young age and I have certainly competed at a higher level as a coach than I ever did as a player so those people along with Mum, must have been right.”

His volunteering journey took Brett next to Pakenham for about three years and later he moved on to the Dandenong Rangers.

“I remember being very excited to get accepted after an interview and having the requirements that Dandenong were looking for at the time”

Brett spent the next 15 years at Dandenong coaching junior Rangers teams from lower graded teams to high graded teams. He also has the opportunity whilst volunteering to influence under 12 boys and girls aged up to 18 years of age. It was at Dandenong that he met the most influential people in his coaching development. The volunteer mentors provided Brett with the skills to understand and learn the game, at many levels. The two most influential people Brett learned from included Darren Perry and his current Mentor and the High-Performance Manager, at his current club. the Frankston Blues, Stephen Blackley.

“These two men have taught me more than anyone else and I’m always looking to improve my understanding of the game and be able to continue to pass it on to the juniors and hopefully make some future Opals and Boomers players.”

Brett is currently at the Frankston Blues in his second year and so far, he has loved every minute of it. Volunteering is not just about the outcomes of your contribution but also about the friendships that you make along the way. The people at the club have made him feel very welcome and have been a great help in settling him into his new volunteer home.

Over the past 20 years Brett has enjoyed contributing to his local community by coaching many domestic teams and countless junior athletes. This alone has been a privilege and a joy but Brett shares with volunteering Victoria, two stories of his proudest volunteer moments,

“When I received thank you messages from them two individuals thanking me for helping them to get to where they are. The first is Matt Darcy, he has just gone to Vermont to play division 3 college basketball in America. I am still great friends with him now that he is 19 years old. I started coaching Matt in a local domestic Berwick team at Dandenong Ranges Club, when he was just 9 years old and I have been privileged to see him grow up through basketball and become a fantastic athlete and a young man who I am proud to call my friend. The second athlete is much more recent and her name is Taleah Read, she has recently been named to the 2017 Southern Cross Challenge team, for the under 14 age group. Having become good friends with Tamara, Taleah’s mum, I got a phone call and both of them thanked me for spending so much time with Taleah and for having belief in her and giving her the confidence and right mentality to be able to get selected to compete in this State tournament.”

Many people volunteer for many reasons but in this case passion for a skill and sport lead to Brett’s volunteering journey. It is not the reason that you volunteer that particularly matters. It is the impact that you have and often that is in the end results. Seeing young people develop team work skills, a sense of belonging and a reason to remain healthy and actively involved with their local sporting club is a great cause to be a part of. Brett continues to volunteer on a weekly basis and dedicates between five to six hours per week in mentoring individuals and teams

He travels a extensively to provide this opportunity to others. Over the years the distance travelled has varied. When calculating his current activities he travels in the vicinity of 70kms every week Sometimes this would be more or less depending on the basketball fixtures and school holiday programs that he would be involved in.

Why does Brett Coach?

He started coaching many years ago as his little brother’s team didn’t have a coach and he had broken his wrist. Brett reports it was the worst fourteen weeks of his life. He did not like that he could not play, I disliked not being able to play. So he looked for an alternative way to be involved.

“ I quickly realised that even though I was highly skilled I was never going to be looked at to play at any professional level and decided to help other young players achieve their dreams of hopefully playing at a professional level someday.”

Brett wanted to give others the opportunities he missed out on as a junior basketball player.
He also saw the opportunity of volunteering as a way

“Not only do you teach junior athletes how to play basketball but you teach them lessons that would help them outside of basketball…Things like great communication skills, team work, decision making and many other aspect of basketball .., skills that would be used in life in years to come, job interviews for example. Try outs for representative teams are no different, 120 people send in a resume, 120 kids rock up to first round of try outs, 60 people get told their resume was received but their application was unsuccessful, 60 kids get cut at the first round of try outs. So goes the process of learning about hard work or being rejected. Life lessons through sport are super important.”

It was during his time at Dandenong that the whispers of people that told Brett he had a talent for coaching. This started to sink in and he started to volunteer.

“One of the best things about coaching, especially juniors, is the penny drop moments and the thanks you get when they achieve something at a high level. Seeing the look on their faces when something you have taught them works and they get it, the penny has dropped. After 3 years of coaching and mentoring a player, getting a call or message thanking you for the time you spent with them, encouragement and belief you gave them to succeed, or even longer, like with Matt. Getting the thanks and appreciation makes you feel on top of the world and it’s the best feeling. As good as winning a championship game is or a grand final is, nothing beats the reward that comes from the penny drop moments and the thanks from athletes for helping them achieve their goals.”

Brett’s love for basketball and volunteering has been a great experience. Brett reports that basketball has been the one constant in his life. He has tried many things but basketball has always come first before everything else. He shares his passion alongside his younger brother still today. Craig joins Brett on court side, volunteering as his assistant coach. It’s become a way of life for the McKean men.

Brett’s volunteering has opened doors for his own development whilst providing countless memories for both himself, his family and many families touched by his generosity of time and giving via volunteering.

“If someone told me in 2012 I would be involved at any level in the SEABL, I would have laughed at them. I am super proud of my own achievements and can’t wait to see where my volunteering takes me in the near future. The dream of being able to coach all day every day is what I am chasing and is the ultimate goal. I work a job to be able to coach, I hope to be able to spend all day coaching and make it a living, if my job was to coach I would not work another day in my life.”

Volunteer Value Gift to the Community
$192,592.80 worth of hours for twenty years of volunteering
Countless young individuals coaching and mentoring opportunities
$48,300 worth of petrol used to provide our local community a purpose to be involved with their local sporting club.

*hourly rate for volunteer was calculated using the Duncan Ironmonger Report 2016 projection

Congratulations Brett, as part of International Volunteer Day, #GlobalApplause joins with you today to recognise all volunteers everywhere and the contribution they make.

Download a PDF version of Brett’s story to print or email to a friend.

Print This Post