Spring squad slam dunk

Week Four of The Evening Star's fun fitness programme Spring Into Summer brought new skills to learn, as 20 readers learned to play basketball. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING reports.

By Tracey Sparling

Week Four of The evening Star's fun fitness programme Spring Into Summer brought new skills to learn, as 20 readers learned to play basketball. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING reports.

COMPETITIVE spirit surged through the Spring Into summer squad, as they tried slam dunks, chest passes and dribbling - not to mention scoring a few baskets.

The game was basketball, the venue was Maidenhall Sports Centre in Ipswich, and once those balls were released from their net there was no stopping us.

We played a range of games to warm up, and build up our largely non existent skills.

Coach Kathryn James showed us how to juggle the ball with our fingers, pass it round each leg, and dribble it without our eyes staying glued to it.

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There was a crazy chase round the sports hall with one team turning plastic cups upside down and the other team turning them back just as fast - with everybody dribbling their basketball at the same time.

Then it was a game of 'piggy in the middle' to practise our chest passé, and a relay to practice shooting. We were concentrating so hard we forgot it was an aerobic exercise, and by the end of the warm-up we were all puffed out but it was time for a real game.

Swallow Belstead Brook leisure club manager John Moody said he beat colleague Adam Rose 12-0 when it came to shooting.

The enthusiasm from coach Kathryn James was infectious. As basketball development coordinator for Suffolk Sport, she eats sleeps and breathes basketball despite her petite stature. She said you don't have to be 6ft 9ins to be a success - although it helps!

Kathryn said: “Basketball is a good, fun way to exercise, because it's enjoyable at the same time as working out your body.

“I was really impressed by the level of skill the Spring Into Summer squad showed as complete beginners. They spaced themselves out very well and it was great to see.”

If you want to try the sport, unfortunately there is no fun league for adult players, and Kathryn said: “That would be excellent fun, but at the moment we only have the 'elite' set up.”

Ipswich also lacks a junior club and she added: “Hopefully things are changing and a lot more basketball is happening in schools, like now like Copleston and Westbourne for example. Things are moving in the right direction.”

The Bobcats is Ipswich's star team, and its senior women have played at the top level in the Women's National Basketball League since gaining promotion in 1987. The club has worked very hard to promote the game in Suffolk and their success draws players and spectators from Essex and Norfolk. The squad relies very much on drawing in junior talent, and has also had many overseas players from countries such as USA, Netherlands, Australia, Denmark and France to bolster the 'home grown' talent.

To see a game, head to Northgate Sports Centre on Saturday at 2.40pm. Kathryn said: “The Bobcats are really inspirational to see. The final game of the season is on Saturday for the girls under 18s Bobcats - they are down to the last eight in the country and they will be playing against Southend.”

Weblinks:

www.suffolkbasketball.net

www.suffolksport.com

Name: Carolyn Macartney

Age: 39

Lives: Henniker Road, Ipswich

Occupation: Housewife

Q: What do you hope to achieve with Spring Into Summer?

A: I want to improve my fitness. I have lost weight in the past and it has gone back on again but I have not really concentrated on my fitness before. I am 40 this year and I'm not bothered about being 40 but I have decided it is time to get going and get fitter.

Q: What stopped you keeping fit in the past?

A: Motivation really. I didn't have the will power. I have got a little girl, Ella who is three in June, and she keeps me on my toes but if I take her swimming or anything like that I can't exactly go off and do 20 lengths myself.

Q: Have you tried any sports before, and if so, how did you find them?

A: Just aerobics and swimming. I didn't find them too bad. I wasn't into PE at school and don't even mention cross country running - it was my worst nightmare!

Q: How are you getting on with the group?

A: Everyone is really friendly and it helps that we are all here for the same reason. We are all from different walks of life and all have different levels of fitness and it is good to have a good mix of people because some will be better at some things and not others.

Q: Is weight loss part of your aim? If so, how have you tried before and did you fail or succeed?

A: Weight loss would be a bonus as my weight is something I struggle with. I have lost weight before but after a while it slowly crept back on again. My main reason for doing this is fitness but if weight loss comes as well I will be pleased. I think I have lost a little bit already because once I knew I was doing this I started trying the following day.

Q: What is your favourite food - and is it good for you?

A: I enjoy food generally and I would have said chocolate was my favourite but I don't have it that much these days. I do enjoy rice and pasta on the sensible side of things.

I have definitely changed what I am eating.

Q: How has the nutrition advice helped you?

A: It has helped remind me of the things I should be looking for such as the fat and salt content. I used to follow the Rosemary Conley diet which is low fat and I tend to look for fat content. I usually don't realise how much is in something until I look, or it reminds me I shouldn't be eating something at all.

Q: How have you found Spring Into Summer so far?

A: It has been really good. I really like it and I look forward to each week.

Q: Which event has been your favourite so far, and why?

A: Climbing has been my favourite activity because it was something completely different, even though I wasn't that successful at it. I also enjoyed the aerobics because I have done that before and I had a good shot at it. It helped that I had a vague idea what I was doing.

Q: Which event has been the biggest challenge for you, and why?

A: I found the circuit training the most difficult. We had to run between two chairs and I thought my legs were going to drop off. They made us do star jumps, which I thought was cruel because I did well on those but my legs had given up on me by the time I had to do a shuttle run!

Q: What have you gained from the programme?

A: I have lost a little bit of weight and hopefully I am starting to improve my fitness level. It has helped me mentally. I have been trying to walk a bit more when I get the chance.

Name: Ezenna Hoy

Age: 34

Lives: Sidegate Lane, Ipswich

Occupation: Office worker

Q: What do you hope to achieve with Spring Into Summer?

I wanted to get the motivation to do more, fitness wise. I also wanted to try different sports in the hope that I would discover something that was right for me.

Q: What stopped you keeping fit in the past?

It's hard to find the time, and I haven't found any activities which I have really enjoyed before so my motivation to get up and do something wasn't that high. There was always something else to do.

Q: Have you tried any sports before, and how did you find them?

I have done different sports before but I haven't found one I like. I tried running, badminton, swimming and the gym but nothing fitted. But I loved doing the wall climbing - it was so fantastic, and I'm so pleased I had the opportunity to give it a go. I got a real buzz when I got to the top though I was a bit nervous when I was coming down again.

Q: How are you getting on with the group?

The group are really friendly. Everyone mucks in and gets on with it. It's also really good that we're all different ages and spaces and fitness levels.

Q: Is weight loss part of your aim? If so, how have you tried before and did you fail or succeed?

Plus what's your favourite food - and is it good for you?

I would like to lose a bit of weight, not that much, but I've been stuck at the same weight for months.

I'm a bit of a yo-yo dieter.

My favourite food is toad-in-the-hole with mash potatoes peas and gravy which isn't that good for you.

Q: How has the nutrition advice helped you?

It has been helpful. It was interesting to hear that I should be eating different coloured fruit so I have been buying red grapes.

Q: How have you found Spring Into Summer so far?

It has been fantastic to discover that I loved the climbing wall so much and it is something I will definitely be trying again. I'm also really looking forward to the rest of the weeks and I am now sure that when the football season is over I will do more exercise!

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