CORK basketball star Lainey Nolan is back playing in Cork for Fr Mathew's following a very successful time playing hoops in America.
The talented teenager embarked on a scholarship programme to the Hun School in New Jersey last year. Lainey loved her varsity basketball stint in the States.
“The experience exceeded my expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed the academic and basketball programmes, which were structured in an enjoyable way. The scholarship provided a special opportunity to become involved in a new course of studies and to engage in a challenging basketball season.
"The programme was so intensive, that there was very little time to be homesick. The whole experience has left me with many happy memories that will last a lifetime,” declared the Cork basketballer.
Lainey who has represented the national team at U16 level, thrived in the varsity basketball scene in Princeton, New Jersey. Lainey adapted seamlessly to the college circuit in America.
“The standard of basketball was at a very high level, both in terms of the training and the conference games. With the benefit of the intensive strength and conditioning training, as well as coaching in all aspects of match tactics, I adapted quickly to the pace of the game, and improved my fitness and game skills.
"By the end of the season all aspects of my game had improved significantly. I was pleased that my game statistics had made a worthwhile contribution to the team’s success. I am very conscious that, as a result of my experience at The Hun School, my self-confidence as a player, my basketball skills, level of fitness and tactical play have been upped to a much higher level.”
Covid-19 resulted in Lainey’s scholarship programme being curtailed earlier this year. Lainey immediately returned home following the outbreak. Lainey still managed to complete her academic studies remotely.
“New Jersey was also affected by Covid-19. This resulted in the school having to close and I returned home for the remainder of the school year. Our basketball season had finished two weeks prior to the closure. However, I was still quite disappointed to see the closure of the school as I was looking forward to participating in the track and field team for the spring season.
"I continued with my studies at home online. My reward for these efforts resulted in me being named on the school’s academic honours roll. The school re-opened in July for an end-of-year graduation ceremony which I attended. It was a very special occasion to end a wonderful year.
"I immediately quarantined for two weeks after returning home.”
Lainey who played all her underage basketball with Fr Mathew's, was delighted to link up with the club ahead of this season’s Super League.
“My basketball career owes so much to the Fr Mathew's Basketball Club. I am delighted to be able to continue contributing to the club’s success and to assist the senior team in whatever way I can in the years ahead. Fr Mathew's are a wonderful club.
"They provide excellent facilities for young boys and girls to participate in a healthy sport, to develop and enhance their basketball skills and to form great friendships. Thanks to the very hardworking volunteers at the club and the motivation of players who are consistently working to get better, the Fr Mathew's Club is making a significant contribution to the wider community."
Fr Mathew's have great coaches in place at all levels, their structures are good and there is great work going on behind the scenes.
“The record shows that Fr Mathew's has made and continues to make progress in basketball at all levels, up to and including national championship level. This record of development and achievement stems from a well-organised management and structure, excellent coaching staff, and a fine commitment by the members, supported strongly by their parents. This all combines to better the club’s future development and success.”
The 19-year-old recently started a Commerce course in UCC.
“It is important to make the best of whatever situation arises, no matter how daunting, something which my basketball experience to date has taught me. Commerce is quite a broad course, which gives lots of scope for different career options in the business world that I enjoy learning about.
"Now, with my first-year studies underway at UCC, I have organised my weekly schedule to ensure that I allocate time to attend my online lectures and complete assignments, while also setting time aside to ensure that I maintain a high fitness level.
"This includes focused practice on various basketball skills and drills. As a team, we all agreed that it will be important to sustain this effort, so that when the basketball season gets underway, we will be well prepared and ready to play.”
The ambitious basketballer has very specific goals she hopes to achieve in her sporting career.
“I am conscious that I should continue to strive to achieve excellence in my basketball skills and competence, as I progress to higher levels of team play in this great sport.”