Norma Connolly and Owen Hughan receive OAM

Norma Connolly and Owen Hughan receive OAM

Two great Australian basketball figures, Norma Connolly and Owen Hughan were honoured at the Australia Day celebrations last week.

Norma Connolly, already a Basketball Australia Hall of Fame member after being inducted in 2007, was given the Order of Australia honour for service to the sport of basketball through administrative and coaching roles.

In 1998, Connolly was awarded National Women’s Coach of the Year and went on to receive the Australian Sports Medal in 2000. She received the Merit Award in 2003, and was made a Life Member of Queensland Basketball in the same year.

But Connolly’s experience and accolades in the sport extend well before her recent achievements. She coached the Rockhampton U16 girl’s team from 1960 and coached Mackay’s U12, U14, U16, U18 and the senior Women’s team between 1969-1991. She was a Queensland Representative Player between 1963 and 1965 and she also represented North Queensland in 1969. She was made a Life Member of Mackay Basketball in 1975.

For a small country Victorian town, Horsham seems to have produced a great number of talented players, and a lot of that can be drawn back to one influential basketball character, Owen Hughan, who received an OAM for service to the sport of basketball as a player, coach and administrator. An all-Australian Junior basketball player, Hughan also represented Victoria as a senior player and was also a member of a number of Australian championship teams.

He coached at the NBL level for the Coburg Giants, enjoying a 37-17 win-loss record, and he also coached Victoria to a number of Australian Championships. After coaching Coburg, Hughan moved to Horsham and helped build a basketball dynasty with the Horsham Hornets, claiming many Victorian championships. He is considered one of the greatest offensive coaches in Australian basketball, and has mentored such young guns as Aaron Bruce and Mitch Creek, both players to come out of Horsham and out of Hughan’s programs.