Braswell back in Shark skin
When former American college star and Breakers championship winner Kevin Braswell first arrived in Invercargill in 2011 he admitted life in the city wasn't all that appealing.
He had come to Invercargill to play for the Southland Sharks in the National Basketball League. Soon after the end of the season, he returned to Auckland.
In fact, the Baltimore native made a comment to Southland Sharks general manager Jill Bolger early in his stint that he couldn't see himself living in Invercargill outside the NBL season.
Fast-forward the clock three years and Braswell has dramatically changed his tune.
He says he loves the place and is more than happy to call Invercargill home.
The 34-year-old was re-signed to play for the Sharks in the 2014 NBL season and also accepted a role with Southland Basketball Association as development officer.
In a third role he will help prepare those Sharks players who are based in Southland in the lead-up to the new NBL season.
Braswell - who this year played a major hand in helping the Sharks to their first NBL title - was excited about being back in Southland and, more importantly, about his first day in his new role yesterday.
"When we were talking about the job, Jill joked with me, saying ‘but you told me you couldn't live down here'.
"It's funny because I do remember saying that but it dawned on me during my time here that I actually really like it down here," he said. "When I was at the Breakers and I signed with the Sharks, all my Breakers team-mates then said I was going to hate it down there but I actually have really enjoyed it.
"The cold weather gets to me some times but beyond that the people are great people - they've been great to me down here."
Braswell did some coaching at James Hargest College during the season and said that got him excited about the opening with the Southland Basketball Association.
"I woke up this morning at 5.30 and I was so excited just because I'm starting a new job.
"I want to be down here and help the programme get better and help the kids get better.
With the kids I was working with Hargest one day a week, every day I got to work with them I always found myself wanting to stay longer with them," he said.
"When you actually get the chance to help someone get better and see them improve with you helping them it is a great feeling.
"I'd never had that feeling before; coaches get that feeling but I'd never had that feeling."
It is Braswell's first job other than playing and he felt it was important for him to get a CV started now and to look at life after a professional athlete.
"I'm turning 35 in January. You've got to start preparing; basketball could be over tomorrow," he said.
Braswell effectively fills the position left vacant after Richard Dickel's departure late last year.
Bolger said the Southland Basketball Association board had taken their time and made sure they were 100 percent certain what they wanted from the role before they filled it.
Southland Sharks coach Paul Henare had a big hand in pushing for Braswell to fill the position. Bolger said they they respected that wish.
- © Fairfax NZ News