In this three-part series, we have a chat with some rising stars at Whittlesea City Basketball Association. This month, we met Dean van Lunenburg to talk basketball, education and the intersection between the two.
Hi! Please tell us a bit about yourself — what you do for work and where you study?
I’m 25 years old and am very close to finishing my degree in Sports and Electrical Engineering at Victoria University. For work, I run coaching clinics at many schools in the northern suburbs, I’m an assistant car mechanic, I work part-time in supermarkets, and I’m doing an internship at an athletic development facility!
Wow, you must be busy! How long have you been with Whittlesea Pacers?
I started playing basketball with the Mill Park Blazers at Mill Park Stadium when I was 8. When I was 10, I joined the Whittlesea Pacers and have stuck with them ever since!
I currently play for the Whittlesea Pacers Senior Men’s team, where we play in the Big V League in Division II. Our team has usually around 10–12 players, including a highly talented player from anywhere around the world to play with us for the season. We are currently in our off-season, so we’re all busy putting in hard work to improve our strength, speed and skills before the season starts next year!
What’s your favourite thing about playing for the Pacers?
Our home crowd, which we expect to be huge this season! I love hearing the crowd’s reaction every time we step onto the court, make an awesome play or hit a big shot, because it makes us play even better knowing the crowd is behind us all the way!
What does your team do when you have a big win?
Our team will celebrate a win by singing our club song in the locker rooms as loud as we can, and then we start to prepare ourselves for training to improve our weaknesses and be even better.
What have you learnt in school that helped you become the player you are today?
I learned many things that made me a better basketball player. I learned to always ask questions about things I wasn’t sure about. I also learned that there are people out there working their butts off to be the best that they can be, so there should be no excuse why you can’t work just as hard to be the best that you can be!
Did you find your school was supportive of students who were interested in sport? What do you think is the best thing a school can do to support kids who love basketball?
My school was very supportive for students interested in sport. We could pick any sports we wanted, and many kids chose a different sport every year to see if they were good at something else, like soccer or volleyball! The best thing a school can do for students who love basketball is to make it as fun as possible, let them be creative with their dribbling, passing and shooting skills, and give everyone lots of court time.
How has playing for the Pacers (or basketball in general) made you a better student or worker?
I’ve had many amazing coaches in my 15 years with the Whittlesea Pacers. Almost every single coach has taught me the importance of communicating with my teammates, respecting others (coaches, players, and referees), and most importantly to never give up, no matter how difficult the task is! These things have made me a very successful student and hopefully a valuable worker.
Are there any significant challenges you’ve had to overcome in your sporting life?
I’ve unfortunately needed surgery two times on both knees in the last five years, each of which has stopped me playing basketball for a year at a time. It was very disappointing to hear about it from my doctors, but after surgery, I followed everything my therapists told me to do, and now I’m back on the court playing the sport I love!
What do you do when you’re not playing basketball?
Study, go to the gym, coach basketball, research, sleep, fix cars, drink water, post photos on Instagram, sleep, catch up with friends, play NBA2K on PS4, play with my pug, sleep, eat everything, watch movies, chill out with my brothers, and sleep.
What are your hopes for the Pacers this year?
As a player, I hope to be even stronger and fitter than I was last year, be more aggressive on offense, and win a championship! As a coach, I hope to see my Under 14.1 Boys reach a high grade and win it all, as well as see some big improvements compared to the start of the year. I also hope to see everyone at Whittlesea Pacers have fun and get to know each other at our games, camps and clinics throughout the year!
Any advice for someone wanting to get involved with the Pacers or who wants to start basketball?
Listen to Nike and just do it! Tell your parents or someone you know from Mill Park Stadium that you are interested in playing basketball; we always welcome anyone who wants to join us! Be ready to work hard, listen to your coaches, do your best every day, and kick butt!