Academies hold court

THE daughter of a former Sydney first-grade rugby league player and a 13-year-old boy who wears size 14 shoes will be among the North Coast basketballers to watch at the NSW Academy Games.

A team of 161 athletes and coaches from the North Coast Academy of Sport will take on teams from other regional academies in Wollongong starting on Friday.

North Coast has entered all seven of the Games sports - basketball, hockey, rugby union, netball, golf, cycling and lawn bowls.

The Games have attracted 1000 competitors.

Katie Bugden is the daughter of former Newtown and Parramatta rugby league player Geoff Bugden.

She started playing basketball only two years ago and has showed amazing improvement.

Katie's dedication to training has enabled her to go from a shy rookie in 2010 to a player who scored 39 points in a Northern Junior League game against NJL powerhouse Tamworth last year.

Elliot Starr, another basketballer, is also a state age champion shot putter and a regional rugby representative.

The North Coast Academy and NSW under-16 state training squad basketballer has a firm grip on the ground with his size 14 shoes and appears to have a big future in the sport.

One man who has seen it all in Academy sport is Grahame Baxter, who is in his 10th and final year as head coach of the North Coast Academy hockey program.

Baxter is leaving the position after the Academy Games to concentrate on a new business venture.

A spokesman said his coaching skills, wisdom and leadership would be sorely missed.

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