With a young group this season, only a few Canberra Gunners players were present two and three years ago when Shawn McEachin was at the helm.
There is no hiding it hasn’t been an ideal pre-season. The departure of 2016 Head Coach, Brad Davidson, to the U.S. college system left a hole unfilled until just three weeks prior to SEABL tip-off.
But McEachin answered the call.
Both players and at the time Acting CEO, Dan Jackson – who had played in McEachin’s Gunners teams – reached out to the former coach, and seeing the position they were in, he agreed to take the reins.
“Canberra is always going to be home,” says McEachin who lived and coached in Newcastle and Wollongong between 2001-2013, winning a Waratah title with the Illawarra Hawks in 2012. During the 2014 Gunners season – his first with the program – McEachin commuted from the Gong three times per week, costing him more in petrol money than the coaching gig paid.
Now McEachin is well and truly back to his roots in the town he represented as a junior player and spawned his coaching career with the under-10’s Weston Creek Dodgers.
“We’ve got a good group of kids and a couple of good veterans, so the challenge for me is we just keep a really positive culture and a realistic culture within the group,” he says of this year’s Gunners.
“I think ACT local juniors get an opportunity to come up and play every year,” he adds. “What this year specifically gives an opportunity for them to do is have more of a contribution and a greater input on the court and on the training court.”
“They’re going to have to be disciplined and detailed in the way they execute offensively and defensively to get the points and to get the stops.”
Due to coming in so close to the season, McEachin has chosen to keep the team playing with last season’s sets and principles.
“The challenges we face this year are going to be tough,” he says. “Coming in so late there was no opportunity to change anything from last season, so we’re sticking with the systems and philosophies that were put in place last year.”
“Any opportunity to learn is a good thing and I guess it does help me to test my flexibility and openness when coming into these kind of situations,” he says. “And if it’s not a challenge, it’s going to be boring.”