Bill Musserad and Ted Coomans were given Posthumous Awards of Merit at the 2021 Referee Awards Dinner on Sunday, 28 November. Basketball SA would like to share their stories and outline their passion and enthusiasm towards the South Australian Referee Community.
Bill was born in Gippsland, Victoria in 1944.
Bill played basketball as a junior and completed his umpiring courses in Victoria. He continued to play and umpire when he joined the Royal Australian Air Force and was posted to New Caste, NSW in 1965. He was Captain and Coach for the Air force. During his three years in NSW also while coaching the Under 20 Wallsend Baptist Church team, which he always said was his small way to help keep the kids off the street.
In 1969, he was discharged from the Air Force and moved his family back to Adelaide to be close to his wife’s family and started playing socially until he broke his toe and decided that he was getting a bit too slow to be out running the ball.
In 1978 after spending so much time around basketball his daughters wanted to play basketball themselves so he coached them in the school basketball competition and were unbeaten in those three years; during that time Bill was approached to umpire at Morphett Vale Basketball Stadium and he accepted; not knowing how much of a wonderful decision that was but the one thing he did know was that he wanted more training and support for the young up and coming umpires.
For anyone that had the opportunity to meet Bill but maybe don’t remember the name or face; I’m sure this will remind you.. he was the guy walking the courts protecting the umpires and players with a big smile on his face and a bottle of diet coke in hand.
Bill decided to put his umpiring skills and experience to work and to also take more courses including an Umpiring Coaches Course that showed him exactly what he wanted to do.. that was to train umpires to ensure the basketball SA had enough umpires to cover games and that the umpires were always protected. Bill also started running courses for Umpires to progress through the different Levels to further their umpiring careers.
It was at this stage that Bill personally went around to all the Primary Schools to put out flyers to get more kids interested in Basketball either to play or learn umpiring. For more than 6 years he went to many schools being both High Schools and Primary School doing a term of training. Through these lessons he taught the kids the basics of umpiring and had them throwing the ball in the hoop trying to get them excited about basketball. Through this Bill found a lot of great kids that came along and started umpiring and playing. He was also doing classes every year for the children at the Seaford Rise Primary School special class and the gift he got from them he said there were no words. He said that seeing a child in a wheelchair who has been told she couldn’t play basketball her whole life to see her face when she threw the ball into the net there were no words that were strong enough to explain it to anyone who wasn’t there.
For many years Bill also Umpired at the Flinders University once a week with his long-time friend Malcom Evans.
Bill also set up the Basketball Competition for the Seaford Recreation Centre for almost 8 years which gave children in the area somewhere to play with friends at a price that made it possible for parents to afford and for kids to come out and have fun.
Bill also arranged and kept the umpires coming out to the SAPSASA school competitions which were held at Morphett Vale Basketball Stadium every year, all of the umpires he had from kirsty-anne, Alex Bull, Alex Newbury, Adam Alderman and many others including his grandson Jason Ebrey; this was a highlight of the year for them.
For many years Bill helped the Church Competitions which were held at Willunga and other Country areas These competitions were not always in the southern area many were at Hillcrest and Wayville and other areas around the state but those road trips were so much fun for both Bill and the umpires who came along.
He was also involved in the District Basketball Club called South Coast Cobras for many years and was to become president of this club. Which again gave him the chance to put all of his energy into young and senior players and parents. The main aim that he had for the members was that they could get to play a game that they loved that was affordable and safe. Many District Basketball Clubs at the time were out of many people’s affordability in the Southern Areas so this was for everyone and anyone who wanted to play.
He was so proud when he heard his umpires and the players he coached saying that they had got to ABA and playing at the old powerhouse. He always followed their lives and careers and many of “his kids” are still playing and umpiring now. He always encouraged his umpires no matter what grade or stage they were in life to improve themselves and offered encouragement and gave his experience, support, compassion, understanding to all of them. He loved watching them grow and become wonderful Adults. Bill would spend the last few years before his health forced him out, assessing umpires and offering any type of assistance to help them in developing their career.
His heart was overjoyed when he would get calls even up until his last few months from “his kids’ ‘ keeping him up to date with their lives about marriages, babies or even just a general chat.
He put all his heart and soul into his Basketball and the people, he would be there for anyone who had a problem day or night it didn’t matter. They were. his kids. Bill wasn’t just a coach or an umpire, he was a support network for so many players and umpires alike.
He always said that the most important thing about Basketball and Umpiring was that everyone has to HAVE FUN.
Ted began umpiring basketball in the early 1980’s when his young son’s began playing juniors with West Adelaide. Ironically, the whole family became involved with refereeing after his wife Yvonne made comment to John Olivia, the manager at Forestville stadium at the time, about the standard of officiating on an U/10 game, he suggested that if she thought she could do a better job she was welcome to give it a go.
That began two decades of junior district and social involvement at numerous venues and levels. Ted was involved in Church basketball and also briefly with wheelchair basketball.
Ted stepped away from basketball as his career developed but he was prompted to return to the game when his son Nick himself began to referee again after more than 20 years. Ted became a much loved regular of the Wednesday night crew at Port Adelaide in 2016 and refereed his last games there in November 2020 when he was diagnosed with the cancer that eventually took his life on June 30 this year.
He would look forward to his games with school boy excitement on a Wednesday night and as players for the 6:10 game would arrive they would see him stretching and jogging up and down the court to warm up, he really loved it. Whilst he wasn’t the most technical of referees, he was great with people and it was clear to all he wasn’t giving it everything every time. He was big on fair play and his intent was always to let the best possible game of basketball emerge from the way he officiated it.
He will be remembered by all whose lives were touched by him.