Basketball Queensland is made up of dedicated individuals who are passionate about athlete development, especially the coaches and training staff. The transition from player to coach has become an increasingly popular pathway for athletes and we’ll be seeing some familiar faces in new roles as the inaugural NBL1 season quickly approaches. We chat with several former QBL players about what encouraged them to pick up the clipboard.
To continue the series, we sat down with Aja Pahram-Ammar, the 2020 NBL1 North Head Coach of the Carina Leagues Club Lady Spartans:
Player to Coach: Aja Pahram-Ammar
Aja transformed her amazing basketball career, extending from the WNBA to Europe, into a successful athlete development business and has just recently accepted a coaching position with the Southern Districts Lady Spartans. Similar to Rhys Martin’s return to the association he won a championship for, Aja was a crucial member of the Lady Spartan’s 3-year championship run starting in 2017.
Focused on Athlete Development
Aja’s passion is athlete development at all levels, which informs her entire career right up to the formation of her business, Sports Mindset. Aja was the defensive anchor for Boston College before moving to LA to train after she graduated. She decided in college that she would focus on athlete development, which she could do when not playing professional basketball. From junior players to training elite athletes like Candace Parker, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose, Aja is dedicated to making athletes better, faster and stronger across all sports.
“It’s a different element of the game. As a player, it’s a narrower focus as opposed to a coach, who has to think about the overall. How individuals react to certain things, react to high-pressure situations, how to best communicate with them.”
Coming to Queensland from the US
Aja first came to Queensland for business, one of her trainers played for Bundaberg and Aja came down to run a camp.
“It was way different to home (the US) and Europe. There was a big market for the style of training I do. I was going back and forth initially (between Australia and the States) and I ended up getting married.”
Coaching Debut with the Lady Spartans
Aja debuted with the Lady Spartans in 2017 and helped lead her team to a championship. In fact, the Carina Leagues Club Lady Spartans are undefeated in the finals ever since Aja took to the floor in a black and red jersey.
However, Aja never thought she would end up coaching.
“My main love was always athletic development, not just as a basketball player but with the body and core strength and the ability to create explosive movement. But to see it translate onto the basketball court, my path kind of took that and I’ve enjoyed that as well.”
Although she’s retired from playing, Aja will have a hard time resisting jumping in for a game.
“It’s all I’ve known! I’ve been playing professionally for 15 years and this is the first year I haven’t played so I’m sure I’ll get the itch at some point. I think I’m over the playing thing, but we’ll see!”
Aja and the Lady Spartans fend off the Gold Coast Rollers in their first game on April 25, who make the trip up to Rowland Cowan Stadium for a finals rematch.