Former Sheffield Sharks assistant coach Brian Aldred celebrates 25 years at Basketball England
Originally from Bolton, Lancashire, Aldred – who is BE’s coaching delivery manager – has been involved in basketball since secondary school.
Aldred, who now lives in Wakefield, went to Trinity and All Saints College (now known as Leeds Trinity University) in Horsforth and inadvertently picked up the coaching bug when he was asked to take the women’s team for practice.
In that moment, he felt he could give back to the game that gave him so much as a child.
He said: “As a kid, I followed the Bolton Bees/ Bolton Wanderers basketball team, who were one of the first basketball teams to be associated with a football club and I used to do their stats.
“I’d go down to Leicester, Crystal Palace and Southampton and sit on the end of the bench doing stats.
“Fortunately, my mum was quite happy for me to disappear on a coach full of 20-30-year-olds because she knew I got a lot out of it.
“I enjoyed being around the pros, semi-pros and American players. The way they interacted with the coaches, I was always interested in the tactical and technical nuances of coaching.
“I then went off to university to do a sports management degree and did a period of placements in Leeds and at Stetson University in Florida.
“I submerged myself in the women’s programme, the facilities, the coaching pathway and it was after this that I thought getting a job in basketball would be great.”
In 1994, the hands of fate came together as the Sheffield Forgers concluded a successful season in the National League and their management team Montgomery Leisure Services secured investment from Chrysalis Records and Mushroom Records to put in a bid to enter a franchise team in the BBL for the 1994/95 season – and thus the Sheffield Sharks were born.
Aldred was asked to be head coach Jim Brandon’s assistant in the early of years of the franchise and for a decade assisted Brandon, former player Chris Finch - now head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves - and England’s most capped player (at the time) Peter Scantlebury in making the Sharks one of the best teams in BBL history, winning four BBL Championships, a BBL Playoff title, four BBL Cups and a BBL Trophy between them.
“It was a fantastic place to be,” continued Brian.
“I learnt a lot in terms of the practicalities of coaching within the professional game. I supported those guys and gleaned knowledge of inter-personal skills, player management, dealing with the highs and lows, courtside operation and game preparation.
“That first season, we shocked the league with our bunch of misfits! Jim had done a good job in recruiting some British players for the team, including Roger Huggins, who was a model-athlete.
“Our imports in the shape of Chris Finch and Todd Cauthorn meant we were hard-nosed and committed to the cause. We won the league and because of that we were able to go and play in Europe.”
Six pictures that highlight Wakefield Gym Club competing on world stageWithin the organisation and the basketball community at large, 54-year-old Brian has helped engender a coaching culture that puts people at the heart.
Because of Aldred, coaches across the game have a deep understanding of their role in developing people and helping them realise their full potential, as opposed to seeking plaudits and banners.
He added: “My experience in the game has been humbling.
“I’ve tried to take all the good practices I’ve learnt over the years and share them with the coaches I work with – I hope that comes across in my demeanour. It’s about engendering the right kind of attitudes and philosophy for coaching; to have a genuine interest in people and their development.”
Aldred’s passion for coaching and developing people has been the guiding principle of his career. Moving from competitions he worked with revered officiating aficionado Alan Richardson to approve tutor schemes, put on coaching clinics and conferences and embed the UKCC framework – which enabled governing bodies to develop quality coaching programmes and included raising awareness about safeguarding and the welfare of participants – into BE’s coaching strategy.
More recently, Aldred delivered a project that provided a group of 40 coaches with an in-depth experience of coaching cultures and practices abroad with the help of Erasmus+ funding and worked closely with UK Coaching to launch a leadership and performance programme, designed to support the development of aspirational female coaches in the game.
BE’s chief executive Stewart Kellett congratulated Aldred.
He said: “Brian has been a great and loyal colleague, dedicating 25 years to help so many coaches and people across the game to get the most from their basketball. Being part of a national governing body to serve thousands of people in our great sport is a privilege and it’s been really good to hear Brian comb the history of the game, reflect on that privilege and all the people he has interacted with.
“He has become the oracle of basketball for so many people who seek him out for those great stories and guidance on all things in the game.
“It’s rare these days to celebrate loyalty and longevity to one great cause and it’s a really proud moment for Brian to be able to celebrate this milestone with his valued colleagues, the basketball community and everyone who knows him.”
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