Michael Fitchett is no stranger to the SKYCITY Breakers, he has been working in various roles with the back office for four years and a part of the club for longer, having spent time as a development player during his career, but this season will step into yet another as one of the two assistant coaches to new head coach Paul Henare.
For a man who is qualified as a Lawyer, a coaching career in the game he excelled in as a player may not always have been the obvious pathway, but once the 33 year old knew there were such opportunities out there, he never had any doubt about walking away from life as a Barrister.
“I studied law at Otago University and was admitted as a Barrister, but it has been a few years! I wasn’t really interested in practicing once I realized that basketball offered a career path both as a player and beyond. I have no regrets, especially after I paid off my student loan I was very happy.”
Not that the Law Degree is completely forgotten, indeed the time spent studying at Otago University has proven most helpful in his career to date.
“My work with the Breakers has covered various roles, working in the office on the admin side of things and then in the last two years in a newly created role of High Performance Manager. That work involved plenty of time on the computer, dealing with agents, working on contracts and managing a few different aspects of the game behind the scenes. Without question my degree has helped me in not only the work I have been directly involved in, but in the work of some of my colleagues here in the office too.”
Right now Fitchett is preparing for the upcoming SKYCITY Breakers campaign with something of a pre-season of his own, being named as assistant coach to Pero Cameron (along with Daryl Cartwright) for the New Zealand Select team tour of China, with the team having just returned from an eight day, three game tour.
Part of the development plans of New Zealand basketball, the NZ Select tour is a chance to expose the next generation and level of playing talent to the international game, with games against Montenegro, Cameroon and the local Chinese League team Shenzhen Leopards.
Fitchett loved every moment of the tour.
“I have coached New Zealand junior teams to keep my hand in coaching and when Dean left the Breakers and Pauli was promoted I did some quick campaigning to put my hand up for an assistant job, he is someone I have a good relationship with and I am over the moon to have been given that opportunity.
“Equally I am enjoying this chance to be on tour with the Select team and to work with Pero (head coach Pero Cameron) and Daryl (assistant coach Daryl Cartwright). Pero is the same as a coach as he was as a player – very direct and to the point. It is a great chance to be a sponge and pick up as much as I can and to apply what I already know to the players, they are a great group and the tour has been a good one for many reasons.
“I have dreams of being a head coach so that is why being in this New Zealand environment is so important, one day I want to be Tall Blacks head coach as well as be in charge at a club. There are different pathways to follow in pursuit of that, I would love to be a Breaker for life – that would be fantastic, but there are other options as well either in New Zealand or overseas that I can pursue if I need to.”
Once back home, Fitch will be catching up with family and getting back to the office at the SKYCITY Breakers as the work continues towards the start of the season on October 7 at Vector Arena.