QUEEN’S HONOUR: John Hegvold has dedicated six decades of his life to basketball in Rockhampton, which has gone from being played on tennis courts to being played at Hegvold Stadium, designed by his father Eddie.
QUEEN’S HONOUR: John Hegvold has dedicated six decades of his life to basketball in Rockhampton, which has gone from being played on tennis courts to being played at Hegvold Stadium, designed by his father Eddie. Allan Reinikka Rokahegvold

Basketball bastion awarded

HOW do you learn to play a sport when there are no coaches around?

You order coaching books from the country the sport originated from.

That was how John Hegvold started 58 years ago to teach himself basketball, unaware that what he would do over the next six decades would lead to being awarded an Order of Australia Medal as one of today's Queen's Birthday honours recipients.

"I am both humble and honoured to have been selected to receive this honour, particularly since I'm sure there are a number of other people in our community who would have been worthy of selection," he said.

"I sincerely thank all those who nominated me to receive this honour, but much of what I have achieved would not have been possible but for the co-operation and understanding of my wife Claudia, for which and to whom I am eternally grateful."

You could also say he would be grateful to the American soldiers who came to Rockhampton during World War II who introduced the sport to the town.

Hegvold said the Americans taught Rockhampton the basics of basketball, then Rockhampton was left on its own to develop.

"It was a case of the blind leading the blind," he said.

"I wanted to be fair dinkum and play it properly, so I bought two American coaching books."

After decades of playing, coaching, officiating, refereeing and administering, Hegvold has worked out a number of tricks, including the key to a successful sport.

"The future of any sport at all is restricted to their juniors," he said.

"If the sport is going to progress, they've got to have a strong junior program.

"The standard in recent years in seniors hasn't been flash. We need input from good junior players and to get good junior players, we need good coaches."

Hegvold said there weren't a lot of experienced coaches available.

While basketball is obviously Hegvold's passion, it's not the only sport or community activity he has been involved with.

He was a member of the PCYC's management committee; donated blood regularly since 1968; a scout leader at the Warripari Scout Group for eight years and Rockhampton District Scout Association executive committee chairman in 1987 for eight years.

Hegvold has been a Rockhampton East Rotary Club member since 1980 and was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship for his involvement.

He also learnt to play tennis with Rod Laver from Charlie Hollis, was an Olympic torchbearer and has been a member of the North Rockhampton Bowls Club since 1982.

When it comes to sport, there's not much John Hegvold hasn't tried.

Scoreboard

Started playing basketball in 1954

Foundation member of the Panthers Basketball Club in 1957

Coached by Harlem Globetrotters captain Ermer Robinson during the team's visit to Rockhampton in 1961

First senior men's player from Rockhampton selected to represent Queensland in 1962/63

Appointed as a selector of the Queensland Senior Women's team in 1962

Foundation vice-president of the Rockhampton Amateur Basketball Association when formed in 1962

Awarded the first life membership of Rockhampton Basketball in 1966

President of the Central Queensland Basketball zone for four years in the 1960s and 1970s



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