The Northern Territory news Sat 30 May 2020
The Northern Territory news; NewspaperNT
Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
News Corp Australia
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News Corp Australia
52 SPORT SATURDAY MAY 30 2020 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 Shack eyes return to US home, family NATHANIEL CHAMBERS ELLAS Titans star big man Willie Shackleford is considering a move back to the United States after spending five years away from his home and family. The 35-year-old has been one of Darwin Basketballs biggest stars over the past few years, greatly helping Palmerston to its 2018 Championship title, before becoming a lynchpin of a star-studded Titans squad. But his work as a mentor and community leader at the Palmerston and Regional Basketball Association will be perhaps what sticks with him the most. The larger-than-life character they call Shack is still uncertain on whether he will play out the upcoming Championship season with his Ellas family, but will use his leave to refresh and sort out the next stage of his mentoring career. Theres obviously nothing set in stone just yet but I havent been home in five years, Shackleford, from working-class Georgetown in South Carolina, told the NT News. I want to go home and press the restart button and start to pursue a career outside of basketball. That career will most likely be youth work as I do here and I may plan to do that either here or back in the States. I havent been home in a long time. There I will look to stay in shape as I always do and obviously consider coming back but more for my line of work with basketball being a bonus. Shackleford first came to Australia in 2010, having signed for the Bundaberg Bulls in the Queensland Basketball League, and has now made a life for himself in Darwin and continues to be impressed with the basketball competition here. Its probably one of the top domestic competitions in the country. You wont find many that have the amount of imports that we do, Shackleford said. It was actually pretty special to win that title with Palmerston. The club had a family feel and we went through that whole season seen as underdogs, though I knew we werent. It was bittersweet not to finish the season with Ellas. Would have loved to have finished but the pandemic was more important and I understand why it had to happen that way. That team has a really warm family feel where everyone is professional, which you dont find with a lot of clubs. Its going to be tough to leave that environment. Next to PaRBA its the Streeter family which Shackleford will miss the most, having spent most of his Darwin life around fellow Titan Ben Streeter. Theyre the biggest things I will miss, Shackleford said. Ben and Tara (Everett) are like siblings to me and those four kids are like my kids. Also particularly influential are PaRBA stalwarts Lance Godwin and Rachel Fosdick, who have helped him realise his dream in youth work. Lance was my first coach when I came here and now hes a mentor and one of my best friends, Shackleford said. Rachel has also been there every step of the way and came to me with a vision for what PaRBA needed to be, seeing me as that missing piece to the puzzle. I think Ive done well here. Ive always wanted to not just make kids great athletes but to make kids great adults and human beings. Manners and respect get you further than money ever will. And something I always tell my family about Darwin is that its the only place in the world where you can plan a perfect picnic and know exactly what the weather will be like. If star big man Willie Shackleford goes back to the US, it will be a massive loss for both Ellas Titans and PaRBA Picture: PATRINA MALONE Rebels rely on locals to fill the void NATHANIEL CHAMBERS THE Uni Rebels mens league team will rely on its local and junior talent this upcoming 2020 Darwin Basketball Championship season, with its imports unable to arrive. Rebels could not call upon their American imports Michael Miller and Andre McPhail, who returned to the US due to the COVID-19 crisis. They also lost star shooter Jake Kirby late last year after he moved to Melbourne, but coach Malix Laurel believes the clubs rising juniors will fill those holes in the squad. We dont have any of our Americans at the moment, so we will be looking at mostly local talent this season, Laurel told the NT News. Jake Kirby left in the middle of the season which left a big hole for us to fill, with him being with us since 2010 and being one of the better shooters in the DBA. However, the local players always work hard and always aim to get good results so we will be trusting them this season. Jason Goodwin is now expected to spearhead the team in both offence and defence, while Henry Callander will anchor in the big man position. Youngsters such as Mixon Laurel and Justin Crossley will also be expected to help fill the vacancies as they build into senior players. Rebels finished second from the bottom in the 2019-20 Challenge season, but their home-grown players are all raring to get back on the court once again. Last season there were times where we showed bits of brilliance but we also lacked cohesion with some people going out to injury, Laurel said. Everyone is ready to get back out there after not being able to play for a while. We got back to training last week and everyone is keen to get out there. Were one of the smaller teams in the league but we will be looking to push the ball as far up the court as we can and use our speed to our advantage. Rebels will be without guard Jake Kirby this Championship season Picture: KERI MEGELUS BASEBALL NT has reduced playing fees ahead of the 2020 season in the interest of seeing as many players return to the diamond as possible. Junior fees have been reduced by 80 per cent to $20, while seniors will pay half price of $65. The change in fees comes Fee relief encourages baseballers to push on in compromised season down to the reduced season of 12 games down from 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic pushing the season start date back to June 14. Baseball NT general manager Gemma Scales said this compromise ensured affordability for players and clubs, while allowing the organisation to continue developing. There was some concern that players would not be able to pay this season with COVID-19 so we found this to be a good compromise, Scales told the NT News. There were a number of factors but most prominent was our delayed season due to the pandemic where we would normally start in mid-March but are now playing in June. We also had to be mindful of the wet season which isnt really viable for our sport so reducing the price and season was the best option for us. The Darwin baseball clubs have all made their return to the field for training with the exception of PINT who chose not to partake this season. While in training the clubs are ensuring they keep to safety measures which include no spectators except for juniors who are allowed one parent. The bench is also not in use. Its a little disappointing that PINT wont be competing this year considering they celebrated their 50th year last year, but they have intention to come back next year, Scales said. It came down to strain on volunteers for a season that was so uncertain. NATHANIEL CHAMBERS