FEW people expected much from the inexperienced Mermaids after the veteran clear-out that followed the team’s back-to-back championship appearances.
But the squad of teenage talent surprised the basketball community last season, winning multiple games with a determined fighting spirit in the Big V.
The Mermaids now begin their Country Basketball League (CBL)campaign, having joined the competition in the hope of developing youngsters to play against ballers with veteran experience.
Filling the CBL head coach role is Ben Roennfeldt, a marine biologist with a basketball background played in South Australia before coaching junior sides in Warrnambool.
Roenfeldt said Warrnambool’s rising stars would grow accustomed to playing with grown women in the CBL.
“It’s mainly to develop those newcomers to the game and give them the experience of playing against bigger bodies, preparing to support the more experienced players later,” he said.
“We’ll be utilising some experienced players to help teach the girls some new things on the court, such as Nicola Handreck and Bek Darken.
“I’m guessing we’ll have a pretty strong (Big V) Mermaids team this year based on the up-and-coming players.
“They’ll be able to support the more experienced players like Emma Rodgers and Bec Darkin who have had a few seasons under their belt.”
Roenfeldt plans to work with Big V Mermaids coach Matthew Smith to ensure the team’s development is directed towards next year’s season.
“I view my role as preparing them for Matt and when he’s ready to start training them in a month’s time he’ll take over and start an early pre-season.
“I’m still considered a freshman as a coach. I’m a firm believer that defence will win games.”
The Mermaids will play their opening game on Saturday, October 26 against Portland at St Joseph’s Primary School stadium.