AS a six-year-old, Hannah Lepaio astounded her mother Leesa when presenting her with a whiteboard and explaining what defensive patterns she thought Bathurst Goldminers teams should be using.
That early passion - and skill - Lepaio showed for coaching has not left her over the years and now she has been given a unique chance to further develop that.
Lepaio, who is currently in the United States where she plays for the Newberry College Wolves, has been invited to participate in the prestigious Women's Basketball Coaching Association 'So' program.
The program is designed to assist female collegiate basketball players interested in coaching by providing them with education, skills enhancement, networking and exposure to opportunities.
“She’s very excited,” Leesa Lepaio said.
“They only take 50 kids from across all of the division one, two and three schools over there, I didn't realise it was so highly sought after.
“Probably the thing she is most excited about is that it's being held in Ohio and that's where the final four in [division one] college basketball will play and she gets tickets to go to that.”
While watching quality college players in action will be something Lepaio relishes, no doubt she will also be scrutinising the tactics employed. It is something she has done from a young age.
“I can remember her as a six-year-old kid, she'd pull out one of those whiteboards with basketball rings on it like all the senior coaches use, and she'd show us who should be screening who,” her mother said.
Lepaio got her chance to put those tactics into practice when guiding an under 12s Bathurst Goldminers outfit in 2012 alongside her older sister Haylee.
She then got a chance to work with seniors when injured during a State League campaign, switching from an asset on court to helping the team with her knowledge as a coach.
“I learned so much about basketball during that season, including dealing with player conflict and how to coach various situations, like at the end of games as well as during foul trouble. I more so learned about myself,” Hannah Lepaio said in an interview on the Wolves’ website.
“I started sticking up for myself and had confidence in the decisions I made. I dealt with my injury and learned there were other areas of basketball I could explore.”
Lepaio was encouraged to apply for the So program by her coaches at Newberry, Sean Page and Joanna Tincher.
“We joke with her that she is already a coach to us because she is such a great leader. She always comes prepared and this will only help her,” Tincher said.
The program will run from March 28-30 next year, with Lepaio to attend seminars which instruct attendees on all aspects of coaching.
“I am just really excited to get the opportunity to learn from various coaches in women’s basketball,” Lepaio said.