Coaches announced for acclaimed development programme

High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) has today announced the latest intake of eight coaches to undertake its highly acclaimed Coach Accelerator Programme. 

The coaches selected for the three-year professional development programme are; Debbie Fuller (Netball), Dan Kelly (Rowing), Greg Nicol (Hockey), Craig Philpott (Rugby), Debbie Strange (Athletics), Sean Thompson (Snow Sports), Dean Vickerman (Basketball) and Helene Wilson (Netball).

Sky City New Zealand Breakers Head Coach Dean Vickerman says he’s excited to be given the opportunity to participate in the programme. 

"One of our key mottos at the Sky City New Zealand Breakers is ‘Did we get better today?’ and as a coach this opportunity will give my coaching knowledge and development a real boost."

This is the eighth intake of coaches into the programme with prominent coaches who have graduated from Coach Accelerator including; All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, newly appointed Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby and Black Caps coach Mike Hesson.

 “It’s a really tough process selecting each intake of coaches because the calibre of applicants is so high and we’re delighted with this latest batch,” says Alex Baumann, HPSNZ Chief Executive. 

“Coach Accelerator aims to increase New Zealand's pool of world-class coaches and we’re certainly doing this when you look at who has been through the programme.”  During the three years the coaches receive individualised professional development programmes which include access to coaching mentors, high performance athletes and support personnel, as well as experts from various high performance environments.

More information on the Coach Accelerator Programme is available here.

Please find biographies on the selected coaches below.

Coach Biographies 

Dean Vickerman: Dean Vickerman is Head Coach of the Sky City New Zealand Breakers basketball team, who are the current NBL champions, and have been for four of the past five years.  Dean was the Assistant Coach of the team for the first three of their NBL Championship seasons, and has been Head Coach for the past three seasons.  His previous roles have included; Head Coach of the NZ World University Games team, Assistant Coach of the Tall Blacks, Head Coach of the Waikato Pistons NZNBL team, Head Coach of the Singapore National team, as well as various Assistant Coaching roles for Australian NBL teams.  Dean is a two-time winner of the NZNBL Coach of the Year title. 

Debbie Fuller: Debbie Fuller is the Head Coach of the Northern Mystics ANZ Netball team and has held that position for five of the past six years.  The team has produced numerous Silver Ferns players during her tenure as Head Coach.  Debbie has previously been a business owner with responsibility for Human Resources at Steelworks NZ Structural Steel Company, and was also employed by Sport and Recreation New Zealand as a Strategic Policy Advisor and Relationship Manager for numerous national sporting organisations.  She has a Master’s degree in Strategic Policy from Victoria University. 

Dan Kelly: Dan Kelly is currently the Assistant Coach of the Waikato Regional Performance Centre for Rowing New Zealand.  He has coached crews to numerous podium performances and World Championship titles at Under-23 and Junior level, and has been the Head Coach of Maadi Cup winning crews for Timaru Girls’ High School, Timaru Boys’ High School and Roncalli College, as well as the National Rowing Championship title winning Timaru Rowing Club.  Dan has a Bachelor of Commerce from Lincoln University.  He is currently a Farm Owner/Operator of a 200 hectare Dairy Unit and 200 hectare Crop farm. 

Greg Nicol: Greg Nicol is a former South African representative hockey player, who has transferred his success as a player into a highly successful coaching career.  As a player Greg scored 244 goals in 200 appearances for South Africa, is a double Olympian, and was the top goal scorer at the Atlanta Olympics and Manchester Commonwealth Games.  Since moving to New Zealand, Greg has been the Assistant Coach of both the Black Sticks Men’s and Women’s teams, and a successful Head Coach of numerous age group and representative teams at provincial level and for Hockey New Zealand.  He is currently the Central Hockey High Performance Coach and is based in the Hawke’s Bay.  

Craig Philpott: Craig Philpott is the Head Coach of the Hawke’s Bay ITM Cup Rugby team, as well as the Assistant Coach of the New Zealand Under-20 team.  He was also the forwards coach for the NZ Barbarians team that defeated the Maori Al Blacks earlier this year, and has coached at all levels from Under-13 to Super Rugby, in various roles from Head Coach to Analyst.  Craig is a trained secondary school teacher and has fulfilled roles as a classroom teacher, Head of Department, Dean and Assistant Principal.  He has a Post Graduate Diploma in Educational leadership from the University of Canterbury. 

Debbie Strange: Debbie Strange has been a high performance athletics coach for over 20 years, specialising in throwing events.  She currently coaches 14-times NZ Javelin Champion and 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Stuart Farquhar, and is the former coach of Commonwealth Games gold medallist and NZ record holder Beatrice Faumuina in the discus.  She has been to numerous Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships, and in 2007 and 2002 was named as Athletics NZ Coach of the Year.  She is a former High School teacher, as well as a Lecturer in Coaching and Biomechanics at the Waikato Institute of Technology’s Centre for Sport and Hunan Performance.  Debbie has a Bachelor of Sport & Exercise Science, as well as numerous qualifications in Adult Education and Coaching. 

Sean Thompson: Sean Thompson is currently a snowboard coach for SnowSports NZ, and has coached Christy Prior to gold and bronze medals at the 2015 Burton European Open and X Games respectively.  He also coaches numerous junior snowboarders who are beginning to emerge onto the world stage as elite halfpipe and slopestyle athletes.  In 2013 he was contracted to work on the SnowSports NZ Talent Development Camp, which was then followed by an invitation to coach the New Zealand Junior team at the FIS World Championships in Italy.  Sean has been a snowboard instructor for the past 10 years, and is a qualified examiner for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand at levels 1, 2 & 3 Freestyle.  He also delivers instructor courses to New Zealand and International candidates.  

Helene Wilson: Helene Wilson has held numerous coaching roles in netball for Netball Northern, Netball NZ and Shore Rovers Netball Club.  She is a former Head Coach of the NZ Secondary Schools team and was the Head Coach of the Under-23 Northern Netball team in 2015 and 2013, as well as Assistant Coach of the Northern Mystics ANZ Netball team in 2014.  Helene is a member of the High Performance Coach Leadership Programme for Netball NZ.  She studied physical education at university and has taught as a secondary school teacher in PE, Outdoor Education, Dance, Health and Science.  She has also been a Director of Sport in various schools in Auckland and New South Wales, Australia.  She is currently the lead in Athlete Life for the NZ Black Sticks Women’s Hockey, NZ Women’s Sevens Rugby and the All Black Sevens Rugby teams.  Helene is also a qualified life coach, career counsellor and is studying psychology.