Now that the dust has settled on the 2023 BIG V season, we are pleased to announce our Head Coaches for the upcoming 2024 Campaign.
Both of our Youth League teams had a challenging year with young and inexperienced players at the BIG V level, but after hard fought seasons, there were many areas to be proud of from each of our teams.
Coming into the 2024 season, the club has been able to secure two highly experienced Coaches to lead our Youth League program going forward.
Heading up our Youth Women’s team will be Gary Jones. Gary comes to Warrandyte with extensive Big V experience having held senior coaching positions that span over a 20 year period. Gary has been a Youth and Senior Women’s BIG V coach for Nunawading, Sherbrooke and RMIT.
When asked about the appointment, Gary outlined that he is excited to work with the Club to rebuild the Women’s Youth League program. He outlined that the club has enjoyed a lot of success in the past evidenced by the number of banners hanging on the walls of their Home Court. Jones shared his eagerness to help rebuild a foundation to achieving success again and can’t wait to get to work to build a team that will be a strong competitor in season 2024.
Joining Gary as Head Coach of the Youth League Men’s team is no stranger to the Warrandyte Basketball Association. We are very pleased to welcome back to the Club Pete Unwin who will lead our Youth Men’s team for the next 2 seasons. Pete, having had 4 of his children come through the Warrandyte program, was also instrumental in the creation of the very first Men’s team to compete in the BIG V many years ago.
Pete comes to the club with considerable BIG V experience as both a player and Coach. After being part of the first 2 years of the Men’s Venom Big V program he spent several years at Bulleen as part of the State Champ Men’s coaching team. With years of BIG V exposure as a player, international coaching experience as well as time coaching at all levels of the VJBL, Pete will be part of a much needed rebuild within our Youth Men’s team. Joining Pete will be Dale Leeson, one of the most experienced coaches at Warrandyte as well as a Venom newcomer in Matt Funston who is no stranger to the BIG V Coaching scene.
Having spoken with Pete, Club President Gerard Pelzer shared his enthusiasm for what can be done at Warrandyte. We have a lot of talented Junior players who moved on from Warrandyte in years past that should come back to the club and be part of something really special. I want to assist in making that happen and will reach out to these young men and invite them to come home, Unwin outlined. Echoing those comments Pelzer is excited for what lies ahead for season 2024.
In our Senior ranks we welcome back both Senior Men and Women’s head coaches Bryan Moore and Paul O’Brien.
Joining Bryan is Aron Pantano who will step up to the Co-Head Coaching role managing game day duties for the Senior Men. Pantano, who is no stranger to the Pro Basketball circuit, having a storied career that started in the QBL and BIG V, spent time in the US during his College career before jet-setting around the world with stints in Europe, South America and Asia.
Pantano brings a wealth of knowledge, high basketball IQ and experience to the team which will enable Moore to focus more on his own game during the season. We see this as a perfect combination, states Moore when asked about how the Co-Coaching situation will work for the Venom Senior Men. We both have the same focus and desire for this team. We are both player centric and want to create an environment and culture that breeds success both on and off the court Pantano adds.
With both Moore and Pantano having lengthy experience in the BIG V and SEABL (Now NBL1) Comps over many years, this new dynamic duo have set their sights on nothing short of Championship aspirations.
The Coaches shared that they were looking forward to working closely with Pete and his Youth league program so expect a very different on court look for both Men’s teams this season as the two programs bring back a host of Venom Jr Talent to build a strong foundation for the Venom BIG V program.
Paul O’Brien will again take the reins of the Senior Women’s team in 2024 with a focus on rebuilding after a disappointing 2023 campaign. O’Brien who has coaching experience in the WNBL, SEABL and BIG V competitions, is no stranger to creating championship caliber teams. As part of the coaching staff of the 2013 WNBL Champion, Bendigo Spirit, O’Brien under the Direction of Bernie Harrower, helped guide the Spirit to a dominating 22 and 2 season before taking their back to back title wins over the Townsville Fire.
We are looking forward to a much bigger season from our Senior Women in 2024 states Pelzer, who is hoping to see some of the previous championship glory return to his Senior Women’s Program.
Please join us in welcoming Gary and Pete to their new coaching positions and welcoming back to the club Bryan, Aron and Paul. This coming season is set to be a big one for our program so be sure to be in the stands when the season commences in March 2024. Until then our coaches have a lot of work to do to get their teams ready for what will be an exciting BIG V year ahead.