Wildcats give back
Local kids from all over Geraldton got a chance to meet their basketball idols yesterday, as the Perth Wildcats kicked off their regional trophy tour with a bunch of school visits and basketball clinics.
The 2015-16 NBL title winners are in town until tomorrow, showing off all seven of their championship trophies while making appearances at as many venues as they can squeeze into their jampacked schedules.
Three-time NBL champion Jesse Wagstaff is part of the travelling party and said he loved getting out to regional towns to connect with the fans and show off the trophies to people who hadn’t seen them before.
“It’s super exciting to bring half the team, and get out and visit some schools, and entertain some kids,” he said.
“You don’t often get to experience (winning) a trophy… but it’s obviously a pretty special accomplishment and to share that with the people of Geraldton is also something special.”
The 203cm power forward said the enthusiasm and passion kids showed during their visits was his favourite part of their off-season travels and that he was looking forward to seeing as many fans as possible.
“You wake up in the morning and sometimes it’s a drag, but you come out here and you see their smiling faces and their eagerness to participate and compete, and it’s pretty exciting,” he said.
“We are called the Perth Wildcats, but we’re representatives of the State and I think the WA community supports us unbelievably… so it’s nice to give something back to them.”
Wagstaff, who had stints at SBL club the Perth Redbacks, said so far it had been very different to his visits from a few years earlier when he was on the receiving end
from the notoriously passionate crowd at Activewest.
“Last time I was in Geraldton I was actually getting yelled at by the Gero fans, so it’s nice to come back to some smiling faces,” he said. Former Wildcats captain and future Hall of Famer Shawn Redhage was also part of the group, which included championshipwinning players, Matt Knight, Greg Hire and Corban Wroe, along with assistant coach Jamie O’Loughlin.
In addition to the 11 schools they will be visiting during their stay, the Cats will conduct four coaching clinics and visit tonight’s final session of Midnight Basketball.
Perth Wildcats Matt Knight and Jesse Wagstaff run a clinic at St John's Primary School.