Bit­ing the Bul­let

Monto stu­dents shoot for the stars un­der tuition of for­mer pro­fes­sional bas­ket­baller

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE - Emily Smith

Lanky teacher and for­mer Bris­bane Bul­lets for­ward aims to in­spire next gen­er­a­tion of shoot­ers at Monto school

THERE’S only one place St Therese’s act­ing as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal Blair Smith would be called short, and that’s where he’s spent his ca­reer.

“I’m 6’9” but that’s short on the bas­ket­ball court.

“I started my ca­reer as a cen­tre, but I ended up a small for­ward.”

Mr Smith was a long way from de­fend­ing 7’6” op­po­nents last Wed­nes­day, as he stepped back onto the court to teach his favourite sport to a St Therese’s PE class.

The for­mer pro­fes­sional said there was noth­ing bet­ter than shar­ing his favourite sport with school chil­dren and watch­ing them come to love the sport as well.

“This is prob­a­bly the best class at shoot­ing I’ve ever had,” he said.

“I love see­ing the ex­cite­ment on their faces when they get bas­kets.”

Mr Smith, who has been at the Monto school for four years, said the out­door, coun­try life­style was a wel­come change of pace af­ter his glo­be­trot­ting bas­ket­ball ca­reer.

“I first de­cided I wanted to be a bas­ket­baller when a player from the Bris­bane Bul­lets came and did a coach­ing clinic at my school,” he said.

“I went home and told my dad I wanted to play for the Bul­lets too. “Four years later, I was.” Train­ing ev­ery morn­ing and ev­ery night on his back­yard half court took him to mul­ti­ple Queens­land teams and to games in Canada with the Aus­tralian un­der-21s.

“I al­ways had fun when I was play­ing, but you do have to be sin­gle minded and fo­cused about what you want,” he said.

“It was a lot of fun. I was on a cou­ple of TV com­mer­cials for the Red Cross and a drink driv­ing cam­paign dur­ing that time,” he said.

He jug­gled a bas­ket­ball ca­reer with an eco­nom­ics de­gree although by the time he re­tired in 2006 it was the teach­ing world that came calling.

His first job off-court was as a devel­op­ment of­fi­cer for Bas­ket­ball Queens­land, which con­vinced him to study the ex­tra year and be­come a teacher.

“I’ve al­ways loved be­ing part of a team, and teach­ing is the same.

“It’s just the kids that make up my team these days,” he said.

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