Thursday, 05 March 2015
The University of Worcester’s wheelchair basketball team will attempt to retain their national title at the University Arena this weekend, and at the helm will be a student determined to emulate his father’s Paralympic achievements.
First year student Josh Surgeoner, who is from Sutton Coldfield, will be part of the coaching team as Worcester look to follow up their success in last year’s inaugural University Championships.
Josh is in the first year of his Sports Coaching Science with Disability Sport degree, and is hoping that his burgeoning coaching career will eventually see him attend a Paralympic Games, emulating his father Robin, who swam for Great Britain in 1984, 1988 and 1992.
Josh explains: “I have played wheelchair basketball for about eleven years. I was involved with the Great Britain development programme when I was younger, but a shoulder injury meant that I could no longer play at that level, so I decided to focus on coaching instead.”
The University Arena – which will host Sunday’s tournament – is also the training base for the Great Britain men’s and women’s teams and the host venue for this year’s European Championships and Josh says that these links to the country’s elite players have already proved ‘invaluable’ as he looks to develop himself as a coach.
“I shadow the Great Britain teams when they’re training,” he says. “It’s great; it’s a really good experience to see how the top coaches develop their players, run their sessions and implement their philosophies.
“It’s very useful as a young coach to be able to assess your sessions and ideas against the elite programme, and it enables you to develop what you do and deliver it at a higher level.
“That’s where I want to be – coaching at the elite level – so to be able to feed off people such as Miles Thompson, the Great Britain women’s coach, is an invaluable experience.”
Josh’s Worcester team will defend their University Championship crown at the University Arena this weekend, and he believes that the sport has developed since the inaugural tournament was held last year.
“I think that more and more universities are getting involved with wheelchair basketball. The sport is growing quite rapidly at the moment, following on from London 2012 and looking ahead to Rio 2016,” he says.
“There’s a lot of interest around the sport; it’s one that people want to have a go at themselves.”
Worcester’s squad contains several Great Britain internationals, including women’s national captain Sophie Carrigill, who combines her sporting career with studying for a Psychology degree at the University.
“We have strong players,” Josh acknowledges. “We have some good line-ups that we can run. There have been changes in the team since last year and we know that the other universities competing have very good players as well, but we should do well.”