Tim Coenraad: Hawk veteran passionate about giving back

Tim Coenraad | Credit: NBL

Fresh at 33 years of age. Potent from the bench. Fourteen points in ten minutes. The workhorse that any team can rely on.

After a decade in the NBL, the Illawarra Hawks’ Tim Coenraad still means business and is passionate about the club’s community perspective and how they continue to use the game as a tool for good.

The Pick and Roll spoke to the veteran last week about his club, his future and the Hawks’ community-positive programs.

Heading into the weekend Coenraad mentioned that the squad was remaining positive following a few losses.

‘We are struggling to find our identity and lock that down at the moment,” explained the Hawk veteran. “In the games that we have won it’s all about the intensity we bring as a whole to the court. By maintaining that intensity we will be able to win more ball games than not.

“There are a few matchups that we need to keep an eye on coming into the next few rounds. We need to focus on ourselves and get back to what makes us successful and win on rebounds and our work in the paint. If we can win in those two areas we can dictate the flow of the game, beat anyone in the league and string some wins together,” Coenraad said.

The Hawks had a fruitful weekend in their two round eight games. On the northern Queensland road trip, they beat the Cairns Taipans 95-84. They then went to Adelaide, beating a strong 36ers squad 87-86,  thanks to a buzzer-beater by Jordair Jett, who is an intense player according to Coenraad.

“Jordair is an explosive player. For us to be successful into the back end of the season we need to put him into situations that are high intensity where he is at his best and that he can take advantage of. As a team we have that chemistry and we need to feed off of that to be able to put our weapons like him in situations where they are at their best. With Cedric [Jackson], we know that when he is unable to score he is aware of who and how to get it to somebody who can complete those for us.”

Coenraad is passionate about the Hawks, signing a new two-year contract earlier this year after a decade at the club. We discussed his decison and the two programs Illawarra had put in place this season.

“Illawarra is very tight-knit – you always see people downtown and through Wollongong. We have a very community-based team here and our fans act as an extra man on our side. Being here for ten seasons now I love our supporters, they are an awesome bunch and that is why I do what I do out there to give back to them.”

Illawarra players and coaching staff recently took part in training on becoming beacons of hope in the fight against suicide in their local community and the basketball fraternity. The training is in QPR: Question, Persuade, and Refer – the latest technique to assist people in helping others. The presentation was conducted by Dr Alex Hains, regional manager of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative.

“It is important for everybody! We get the opportunity and experience to meet a lot of people and touch them in a lot of different ways – to have that training so if you do come across somebody who is struggling with this you have an idea of what to say and even more importantly what not to say,” explained Coenraad. “I am glad we got to be a part of it and that this training was made available to us.”

On Sunday, 16 December, the Hawks will be hosting traditional rivals the Sydney Kings in the NBL’s first Indigenous Game. As a project which aims to celebrate Indigenous culture, it will hopefully serve as a guiding light by which the league can make up ground on other codes for permanent Indigenous fixtures.

Former Hawks player and now the club’s Indigenous Program Ambassador, Tyson Demos spoke about the importance of this historic game.

“This is something we have wanted to do for a very long time,” Demons outlined. “Backing from the community and the Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) have helped fund the event and really get it across the line.

“Hopefully this will be the drive to get the support throughout the league while also raising awareness and promoting basketball for younger generations. At the end of the day if a kid has the choice to either pick up a football or basketball, it will be events like this which will make that choice easier. Wouldn’t it be great if we could find another Patty Mills or Nate Jawai from events like this?”

Last Thursday, the Hawks were honoured by the AMS and Local Indigenous Elders with a Traditional Smoking Ceremony – an experience that all involved took great pride in.

“It’s awesome for us and will be a great experience for the boys,” enthused Coenraad. “We got to participate in that smoke ceremony where our local Indigenous community welcomed us and it was an amazing experience to meet them and learn about the work they do. They work with the younger generations of Indigenous, guiding them and keeping them away from bad choices in life. The work they do goes unrecognised and needs far more exposure than it currently receives.

“This game I think is a no-brainer! It is long time coming, but goes a step towards recognising our Indigenous people and their great contribution to this nation and society is something I am glad to be a part of.

“It goes beyond just the Indigenous and it’s about all of us working together to make a better community and society. Anything with a message like that in my opinion is well worth putting our time into. I am really excited and honoured to take part, put on those colours and see what this can do for our community.”

On asking him about where his passion around these events laid, Coenraad’s response was simple.

“It’s about more than just basketball – it’s about the people you get to meet and the positive relationships you get to make. If I can use basketball to bring people together and just become a better person everyday than that’s what counts.”

Retirement is far from Coenraad’s mind, and with a child on the way in a matter of weeks he explained he was extremely busy in preparing for the future.

“That’s a good question! Right now I am trying to spend more time at home and building the business. Create better people in the Illawarra – I know it makes me sound kinda like a hippy, but at the end of the day that’s what I am trying to promote.

“I really like the idea of finishing out the career here with Illawarra but you never know what the future holds. I don’t feel anywhere close to finishing, I feel really good and still feel I have a lot of basketball to give.”

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