HAVING waited a long time and had teams who were knocking on the door, Joondalup Wolves coach Charles Nix couldn’t be prouder of his Lady Wolfpack team who won the West Coast Classic to give him the chance to share it with his group and family alike.
Nix can now call himself a championship winning coach after guiding the Wolves to a 72-54 Grand Final win in the West Coast Classic over the Perry Lakes Hawks, and it’s been a quite a ride for him to get to this point.
Nix’s first taste of coaching in his own right in the SBL was in the men’s competition when he took over mid-season from Shawn Dennis at the Hawks when he got the job in the NBL coaching the Townsville Crocodiles.
There were a couple of eighth-place finishes as a result but Nix’s Hawks teams were better than that and they showed that by pushing the minor premier Wolves and Cockburn Cougars to three games in the first round in consecutive years.
Nix then went on to coach an exciting and talented South West Slammers team in 2017 who did also lose in the first round, but that was to the eventual champion Perth Redbacks and they were perhaps capable of beating any of the playoff teams that year.
It was then time for Nix to try his hand coaching in the women’s SBL and he took over at the Redbacks and with Kayla Steindl, Mikayla Pirini and Makailah Dyer on board, they finished second before losing two one-point semi-final matches against the Mandurah Magic.
The bad luck come playoff time continued in Nix’s first season at the Lady Wolfpack too. He put together an imposing squad who were brilliant for three quarters of 2019, but then they lost Steindl and Amy Kidner, and never quite got going losing the quarter finals to Perry Lakes.
Along the way, Nix was building his reputation as one of Western Australia’s best emerging coaches but he needed things to go right come playoff time for once and that happened in 2020 during the West Coast Classic.
Obviously nothing really went to plan for anyone in 2020 thanks to COVID-19 but at the Lady Wolfpack they were able to maintain most of their group from the SBL to the West Coast Classic, only losing import big Brittany Hodges.
So that left them with the favourite tag for the competition having added Nes’eya Williams, Alix Hayward and welcoming back Steindl to a group including Amber Land, Isabelle Miotti, Chelsea Belcher, Georgia Denehey and Mikayla Pirini.
That still means a good coach had to get it all to click together and that’s exactly what Nix did with the Wolves finishing on top of the table, then beating the Rockingham Flames 101-48 in the semi-final and then winning the Grand Final over the Hawks by 18 points.
Nix couldn’t have been prouder of his whole playing group for their commitment to coming away with the championship despite all the challenges 2020 presented.
“We’ve got a bunch of players who probably deserve to be getting paid but we didn’t pay anyone because of the COVID situation, and they all committed to come back to play together and play for each other,” Nix said.
“I feel very privileged and fortunate to have such a wonderful group who care about each other, and sacrifice for one another.
“I was a little bit surprised to be honest that everyone decided to come back and play because there was a lot of uncertainty as to if there was going to be any sort of season.
“But I love that they embraced it and worked hard, and kept pushing which obviously culminated with something fairly wonderful.”
POWERFUL LADY WOLFPACK CLAIM WEST COAST CLASSIC TITLE
While the Wolves did put together a strong nine weeks of basketball in the regular season of the West Coast Classic with their only loss coming in Rockingham against Taylah Burrows, Christina Boag and the Flames, it didn’t guarantee anything come the finals weekend.
Nix certainly wasn’t taking anything for granted, but he was still confident in his group and that was justified with the big wins inside 24 hours against Rockingham and Perry Lakes to come away with the championship.
“I knew that type of basketball was there and for us we just made sure we kept it really simple. Our focus was about what’s next so it really was about finishing one possession and moving onto the next one, and not looking any further than that,” Nix said.
“By keeping that focus it helped our group and finals do change people. We’ve seen that happen before in a number of different sports but we have a really resilient, mentally strong group who were able to stay locked in for a long period of time.
“We won’t ever take for granted that we were able to keep that group together because the experience and talent we had was something pretty special.”
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO FINAL EPISODE OF SBL SHOOTAROUND FEATURING FULL BREAKDOWN OF FINALS WEEKEND AND WHOLE WEST COAST CLASSIC SEASON WHILE JOINED BY CO-HOST MAKAILAH DYER AND WITH A SPECIAL INTERVIEW WITH SAMI WHITCOMB
Nix had been knocking on the door of success in the Men’s SBL at Perry Lakes and the South West Slammers, and then his first Women’s season with the Redbacks saw them as genuine challengers, but he was after some more stability by the end of 2018.
That’s what the Wolfpack were offering and now two years later he couldn’t be happier to be a championship coach and to be locked in to continue coaching the group for the foreseeable future moving forward.
“I think for all coaches you look for your best opportunity in regards to getting the support and backing from the club that you want, and Joondalup is definitely a club that has supported and backed me, and given me the opportunity to do what I love doing,” he said.
“That’s come with limited resistance even though I do still have to report and make sure I’m doing the right things, but in general they back me in and believe in me, and give me the tools to be able to coach.
“So for me it was a fantastic move and my family loves the club, I love the club and they have been very welcoming. I’m hoping to still be there for a long time so it’s been a really positive move.”
Nix will always have a special bond with all the players he now shared the championship with including those who joined him from the Redbacks in Williams Steindl, Pirini, Hayward and Laniesha Paddon along with coaching staff Tim Rendulic and Steve Matthews.
That’s not to say he didn’t develop close bonds with those he came into contact with at the Wolves either including players Belcher, Eleanor Hartill, Denehey, Land and Olivia Basso along with coaches Corry Easther and Brian Abby.
But ultimately what nix is above everything else is a tremendous family man and to share the championship success with wife Jacinta and their children is what meant more than anything to him.
“It means the world to share it with my family. I had my son Kyan with me before the game and he was rebounding for the girls, and getting involved and he came in the change rooms with us,” Nix said.
“I think for any parent to see your child succeed particularly in a competitive environment or in things that I think contribute to being a good citizen, is important. Hopefully it inspires him to do some things but I think any coach knows how important a partner who is supportive is.
“There are hours and hours that you put into this so you can give your team everything you can, and sometimes you are spending more time with your team than your family. But this means a lot to see their faces when we succeed and how proud and happy they are. That means the world to me.”