Storming forward: The story of Hemel’s surge through the ranks of English Basketball

Hemel Storm's Tom Adorian was man of the match against Manchester Magic. Picture (c) Lin Titmuss
Hemel Storm's Tom Adorian was man of the match against Manchester Magic. Picture (c) Lin Titmuss

Hemel Storm are enjoying an excellent campaign and have made great strides since they were formed just four years ago. So what is the secret of their success? Director of coaching Dave Titmuss gives us his thoughts.

I was asked recently to reflect on Storm’s successful rise since our formation only four years ago in the 2010/11 season. Well, it has been nothing short of meteoric.

We are the only club playing at men’s EBL Division One level in the area, and are Hertfordshire’s sole representatives in the National Premier League (South) at U16 and u18 level.

Currently our men’s team sits on top of Division One and our youth sides are in the top four of their respective junior Premier Leagues.

Our men’s team boasts the best group of players ever to wear the Storm uniform and their tenacity, skill and refuse to lose attitude has, frankly, stunned the League.

Many of our opponents have drafted in foreign players to strengthen their rosters but we remain an all-English team – a fact of which we are justifiably proud.

When the Storm Club was formed around four years ago, right from the start we had a clear development plan in mind with an emphasis on quality coaching.

We set out to be a coaching organisation because we felt there was a real need to raise standards and expectations in the area and I wanted to put together a group of experienced local Coaches that, even with the limited resources available to us, would be able to create an elite environment where players could flourish.

I’ve always believed that you don’t win games at the weekend, it’s all about how you practice and prepare during the week.

We’re lucky to have a dedicated coaching staff with national and international playing and coaching experience working at both senior and junior levels – Steve Darlow, Jon Burnell, Tony Harrison, Dave Allin, Andy Renshaw, Vince Savin and myself.

Storm started with a Division Two men’s team that, within two seasons, had twice captured the Patrons National Cup and also won promotion to Division One.

We were a little ahead of our plan and had to do a lot of work off the court to support our success on it.

Our men’s team usually plays in front of packed crowds at Sportspace which is the result of the hard work put in by our promotions team. And Storm’s schools coaching programme has just been launched with a £10k grant from Sport England.

We set-up an U18 programme and under current men’s head coach Steve Darlow, became Conference Champions.

An U16 programme was then formed and last season both groups were promoted to their respective Premier Leagues.

At the youth level we don’t even have the best physical talent in the area but the lads have responded well to coaching and to the physical and mental demands that have been put on them.

We play against far more athletic teams than ourselves and we’re always outsized – sometimes at every position – but our kids have learned how to be fundamental and to think better than their opponents. And a number of our players have earned county, regional and national team representative honours.

We believe that a big part of any youth programme should be providing great basketball experiences for the players so next season our U18s will undertake a 10-day tour of New York to play against high school teams, as well as visiting colleges to see practice and games and also take in a couple of NBA games.

We have established our first linked post-16 Basketball Academy (at St Mary’s High School in Cheshunt) and the team is currently undefeated and through to the Regional Round of the Schools U19 National Championships.

We’re all very proud of what has been achieved in such a short time but we’ll always look forward and continue to grow. There’s a saying in basketball that I picked up in my travels studying the game in the USA: “If what you did yesterday still looks good to you today, you haven’t done much today!”