Local basketball coach Paul Christensen was awarded the 2018 Australia Day Sportsperson of the year.
Local basketball coach Paul Christensen was awarded the 2018 Australia Day Sportsperson of the year. Allan Reinikka ROK040218achriste

Rocky top coach takes home gold

WHEN Paul Christensen heard his name announced as the 2018 Sportsperson of the Year at the Australia Day awards, he didn't believe it at first.

But sure enough, the Rockhampton coach's legacy of chasing the lives of so many aspiring local athletes earned him the golden medal on the day.

"Ten days before, I got a letter to say I was nominated and then when I turned up and they read my name I didn't quite understand it was me,” Christensen said.

"Then I turned around and saw my name and saw it was me... it was pretty surreal.

"It's just amazing that some people acknowledge the time and effort I put into basketball.

"It's not just a basketball nomination, it's a sports nomination and there are a lot of sports in Rocky so to be selected was very humbling.”

Christensen was born in Bundaberg but had moved to his wife's home town Rockhampton in 1990 where he joined the Rockets squad.

"I just have a passion for basketball,” Christensen said of his awards win.

"I played in my junior years and I liked the game.

"I just want to share my knowledge with local kids and give back to the sport that I had so much enjoyment in.”

However, despite his life-long interest in the sport, it was his coaching abilities that earned him a place in the hearts of Rockhampton's sporting scene, and even the position of president of Rockhampton Basketball.

He began coaching junior club basketball with the Frenchville Panthers in 2007 and representative basketball in 2008, leading many local budding basketball stars to State and National levels.

Christensen also acted as assistant coach to the Rockhampton Cyclones Women's Queensland Basketball Team and the Queensland North Representative team.

Both of which have won State and Nationals titles.

Christensen's impressionable touch also brought in more than a hundred new junior players since he began coaching.

"When I first started coaching the Frenchville Junior Panthers the club had five boys teams, which has built up to 18 at its peak over the years,” Christensen said.

"I've also coached my older twins Leon and Damon for the Rockets.

"In the second year I coached them they got a third and fourth and two fifths in the state championships in division one.

"They they left and I coached the next U12s representative team which placed second in division one in the state.”

In that same year, Christensen assistant coached the Queensland North basketball team which won gold at the Nationals.

He also spends Thursday and Friday nights coaching basketball teams, whilst also running the Frenchville Panthers boys training sessions.

"The biggest thing is letting the athletes get what they want out of it... it's understanding what they want and putting the expectation on them to get better,” he said.

"There's not too many lows in what I do.

"I'm a shift worker so I have to work on my time commitments but it's all worthwhile for what you get out of it.

"Especially seeing the kids develop and turn into great human beings.”



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