The Airwaves Plymouth Raiders announce that Coach Gary Stronach will be leaving the Raiders after the final match of the season on Sunday 18th April against Worthing Thunder (Plymouth Pavilions, 3.45pm). This will end an association that has lasted for 24 years and brought numerous cups, league titles and success to the city.
Stronach decided earlier this week, not to renew his contract for another season, ending an era that stretches back to the 1985/86 season. He played 356 games for the club before announcing his retirement just before the 1999/00 season. After 24 years in the city, it will be a huge wrench for him to leave the Plymouth Raiders.
“I’ve had an absolutely fantastic career as a player, player/coach and head coach of Plymouth,” Said Stronach. “I’ve made many friends and acquaintances over my 24 years. I feel the time is now right for me to pursue another challenge at this stage of my career.”
Over his career with the Raiders, Stronach has played with and coached more than 100 players. He will be fondly remembered by them all together with the Raiders fans, and it’s expected that a large number of them will be at Sunday’s game to give him a good send off.
In today’s professional sporting environment, loyalty is not something that often springs to mind, but it’s something that Stronach has held dear and valued throughout his 24 years.
Stronach was originally involved in the Raidercoach Academy – working in schools throughout the area, coaching basketball and delivering mentoring programmes to children from varying backgrounds. In recent years, this has progressed significantly, and now includes the highly successful Hoops 4 Health scheme delivered in Primary Schools in Plymouth over the last 2 years and is set to expand in future years.
One of Stronach’s proudest moments as coach of the Raiders, was lifting the BBL Trophy in 2007 in front of the Raiders fans, having beaten Newcastle Eagles in front of their own fans in Newcastle. He was Head Coach when the Raiders made the jump from England Basketball’s Division One to the fully professional BBL in 2004, a move that saw the UK’s premier basketball action come to the city.
Raiders Chairman Bob Widdecombe said, “On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Raiders, we’d all like to thank Gary for everything he has done over his 24 years for the club. The club’s present set up is unrecognisable from the club that Gary joined back in 1985. The search for a new coach will start next week, but for this week, the Raiders are focused on the remaining 2 games of the 2009/10 season. We wish Gary well for the future following his departure from the Raiders.”
“I’d really like for every fan coming to the game to wear something green,” said Stronach. “Whether it’s a hat, a t-shirt or top, or just something with green on it, I want to be able to look out at a sea of green in my last game with the team, and walk away with some very proud memories of what we have achieved here.”
Recognised as one of the longest serving coaches in the English game, it won’t be Stronach’s final game of the season. The BBL have asked him to coach the GB representative team in the BBL All Star game against the Rest of the World team , on May 8th at the NIA in Birmingham. The GB team will feature Raiders’ own Anthony Martin. Stronach said “It’s an honour to be asked to coach in the All Star game and I’m really looking forward to it. I hope that some of the Raiders fans can come to the NIA and cheer my team on to a victory!!!”