Jeremy Synot.
Jeremy Synot. Sharon Hill

LIFE AFTER RIO OLYMPICS: Coach stops at nothing

HIS voice, loud and confident, echoes across the basketball court to be heard over the constant bouncing of balls and the clanging of wheels locking together.

The rubber encasing the wheels of each chair screech along the ground's surface, the same way you would expect a pair of runners to.

With short dark hair and a moustache, his deep blue eyes flicker around the court as he zips effortlessly between each student. Jeremy Synot is teaching them how to play wheelchair basketball.

With an infectious smile and someone happy to have a conversation, Synot is a real people person. It is a clear giveaway he loves what he does. As president of the Suncoast Spinners, Synot coordinates operations and programs for entry level right through to experience and elite wheelchair basketball players.

The 28-year-old has always loved sport. Growing up in Melbourne, Synot was born with Brittle Bones Disease. His friends were always running around playing footy and his disability never stopped him wanting to be a part of the action. "How often I used to just come home and say 'mum I broke my finger', or 'mum I did this playing footy or cricket'," Synot said, determination visible in his eyes.

Standing around 5'1'' and being challenged to do some activities gives Synot a never-say-no attitude. "I'm a driven person; not too much really fazes me, I just make it happen," Synot said, reminiscing on how his childhood, friends and family helped ground him. "The thing I have appreciated the most about having a disability is how far you can learn to push yourself, cause I have to push myself a lot harder to do a lot of things."

Synot is a huge AFL supporter and as a child all he wanted to do was play. Although not confined to a wheelchair, the nature of the game was too dangerous. "Although I couldn't play AFL, wheelchair basketball gave me that ability to be involved in a team sport and be involved in such a historic and prestigious culture."

By historic and prestigious culture, Synot refers to his current involvement with the Australian Rollers. As he discussed his role with the team, he was visibly excited at the thought heading to Rio to fill the Paralympic dream. "I'm a technical coach so I look at aspects of wheelchair basketball, more about the breakdown using footage, statistics and those kinds of things to assist the head coach during games." The team recently made it to the quarterfinals in Rio.

After playing in a number of teams between 2007 and 2013, Synot retired as a player due to being prone to injury. "I came to coaching in 2014 and we had some really strong results in Queensland making NBL championship games and from there I was identified and have been to a few overseas tournaments and here I am," Synot tells of his road to Rio.

Australian Rollers national program manager Leigh Gooding gives a friendly chuckle when describing Synot. "Jeremy can be a pretty cheeky little fella, but he brings a bit of colour to our program and a great personality," Gooding says referring to how well Synot fits in and gets along with the team. "Jeremy is a good talker and doesn't miss an opportunity to put his word in." Characteristic to that determined attitude, Gooding says Synot has "proven to be good task master and when you give him a job to do he gets it done".

Wearing his Australian shirt proudly, Synot tells of the honour of being part of the team. "It's quite humbling the fact of what people have overcome ... and they just push themselves so hard and are so determined for success it's really infectious," he says.

The passion Synot speaks with emanates to his day job and the fact he loves to help people succeed. He is an English teacher at Clontarf Beach State High School. "You've got to love what you do ... there is no challenge too big. You can always do anything you just have got to find a way to do it," is the inspirational advice Synot gives his students.

Synot's personable nature could have him talking all day. Perhaps his best message is to "avoid excuses and if you want to do something, just find a way to do it and if it makes you happy do it".


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