Balsar searches for one last title

SHOALHAVEN basketball coach Scott Balsar will call time out on his coaching career following one last national championships, to be played this week. 

Balsar has been involved with the NSW Country state teams for 15 years, but will step down after the national championships to focus on his family.

In his career, Balsar has tasted national success on several occasions, winning three gold medals and three bronze medals with NSW Country state teams.

He stepped away in 2005 after creating history with his side at the Australian under 18 championships at Perry Lakes in Western Australia, to return in 2011.

In the 2005 campaign Balsar led his team to the national title with a two point victory on the buzzer over South Australia Metro, the first time in 31 years NSW Country had won a title and featured in a final.

Following this, Balsar was also named 2005 Basketball NSW Coach of the Year and Basketball Australia Junior Male coach of the year and was rewarded with a coach’s appointment at the Australian Junior Camp held at AIS Canberra for a week where he worked with the Australian under 19 women’s side as a network coach.

Locally, Balsar led the Shoalhaven State League Tiger women to back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008 and has been at the helm of the Tiger men’s program in the past few seasons, taking them to two final series in 2011 and 2013. 

At the end of last season he stepped away from the Tiger program due to family and work commitments.

Balsar said his involvement with the state teams has given him life long friendships with many coaches, officials and players.

“It has given me a chance to see some of the nation’s best players go on to play at the Olympic games, world championships in the WNBL and NBL, and in some cases the WNBA and NBA,” he said.

“I’m very grateful and appreciate the opportunity given to me to coach players such as Lauren Jackson, Jenny Screen, and our very own home grown Jaimee Kennedy, who have all gone on to the big time and make a living from of our great game.”

Last year Balsar was appointed coach of the NSW Country under 18 women’s state team, which will kick off its national championships campaign tomorrow in Canberra against South Australia Metropolitan.

Balsar’s team has been preparing for seven months, beginning with trials last September and then five camps in Shoalhaven, Terrigal, Cessnock and Illawarra. 

“I think this is what makes NSW Country tough,” he said.

“All the travel, sleeping on floors, living in each other’s pockets for seven months, where, if you were in a Metropolitan based team, you train mid-week and get to go home and sleep in your own bed. 

“I’m pretty excited about this group and having my final shot at winning another national title. 

“The 2014 team are a great group and they play for each other and for the name on the front of our singlets - NSW Country. They play hard, and on a bad day they play harder, and they don’t care who gets the credit.”

Although his sights are set firmly on spending time with his family, Balsar said it would be hard to pass up an opportunity to defend a national title, if his under 18s team were successful this week.

“As they say and every coach knows, never say never,” he laughed. 

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