In this series of articles, we take a look at some of the players who have come through the setup at Rockets, starting with Men’s First Team player and Rockets Community Coach, Ethan Woodward.
Ethan has been with the club for a number of years, joining our under-18 side after representing Birmingham Mets in college.
His basketball journey began back at school, however, with current Rockets women’s coach Peter Mintoft playing a key part in Ethan’s early development.
“I started taking my basketball to school in year 7 during break times – I played basketball and got talking to Ben Mintoft, who is Pete Mintoft’s son.
“Pete took sessions in the gym before school and after a few sessions there with him he advised me to go to Birmingham Mets – based at Sutton Coldfield college BMET.
“Whilst playing for the under-16 team at the age of 12 I also trained and competed in the West Midlands League and on the performance pathway for basketball for three years.
“As I matured, I also played for Birmingham Mets men’s team at the age of 14. Upon leaving school at the age of 16 I enrolled at Sutton Coldfield College to continue playing basketball and also gain my qualifications in sports, which also started my interest in coaching.”
Ethan now coaches in schools as part of Rockets’ Community Coaching team, delivering basketball sessions to children from across the city.
“I absolutely love this position at the club,” he said.
“I am learning every day and my knowledge and confidence is growing too, I am very grateful for this opportunity with such an established club which is continually growing and developing, there’s just so much to look forward to.”
Ethan’s journey with the Rockets began back in his final year of junior basketball, however, when he joined up with our under-18 side as he started to look for his next steps in the game post-college.
“For my own personal development, I wanted to challenge myself further and decided to join City of Birmingham Basketball Club to play in the under-18 National League for my last year of junior basketball.
“I have always been very well supported by Rob Palmer and Roy Francis, who were my coaches at this time, and I have always respected their knowledge as they always go above and beyond to do what’s best for me as a person and an individual and team player.
“Peter Mintoft has also always been very supportive and always gives great advice.”
Outside of the support from inside the organisation, Ethan credits his family for making the sacrifices necessary for him to realise his passion of playing basketball.
“My parents have always made sure I was at training on time for every training session – they have been very supportive and without them I wouldn’t have been able to develop as a player.
“If ever my parents were unable to take me to training or again my grandparents have always stepped up so that I would never miss any training or games.
“They also support me and the Club and come and watch the home games and away games.
“My grandad is my number one supporter and also comes to watch the games whether they are at home or away.
“I really do appreciate everything that they have done for me over the years and all the time it has taken up, nothing is ever too much trouble. I am just grateful to everybody who has helped me.”
Despite the help and assistance Ethan has received off the court, his passion for the game and determination to improve has seen him graduate through the ranks to be part of our 2021/22 Men’s First Team roster.
As part of Coach Douglas’ squad for our inaugural season in NBL Division 2 North, he has had to adapt his game to manage the differing styles at this level.
“It’s been a fairly easy transition for me into the men’s team as I’ve played for men’s teams from a young age.
“The main difference is the intensity and speed of the men’s game which I feel I have adapted to well.”
Under the tutelage of the experienced Coach Paul Douglas, Ethan is committed to getting the most out of the season and learning from those around him to maximise his personal and professional development.
“It’s very important that I turn up for every training session to learn new plays and systems, and also to bond with my team mates and maintain and improve my fitness.
“I am completely committed to Rockets, since teaming up with Coach Dougie I feel I have improved, and to fully understand his different style of coaching and different ways of seeing the game.
“My personal ambition is to be playing as much as I can after a difficult couple of years with COVID being challenging for everyone.
“I want to take on board as much information and knowledge as I can with my age still being on my side and accept that I am only going to improve and get better every single day.”
As well as the established coaching and development setup off the court, Ethan admits he has benefitted from learning directly from more experienced players and professionals who have played in the BBL and abroad.
“I have definitely improved a lot from the experienced players on the team; for example, Jordan Dawes, Michael Gayle and Nathan Ramsdale-Owen who have played basketball at high levels.
“I am in awe of their attitude and passion for the game and I am always willing to listen and learn from them.
“I’m very proud to be part of the team. As there have been a lot of changes to the team for this year it was always going to take time to get different foundations in place.
“However, I feel the team are certainly on the right path to succeed and I hopefully can be part of this team for many years to come.”