Basketball: Passion for helping kids motivates Spearwood Hawks volunteers to keep giving back

Tammy and Mike Van Lit.
Tammy and Mike Van Lit.

AFTER close to 60 years of volunteer work combined, the obvious question to ask Mike and Tammy Van Lit is how they continue to be so generous with their time.

The answer, they say, is that they simply love to help kids.

The pair were nominated for a Local Sports Star Service to Sport award by Spearwood Hawks president Oky Ramos.

“The club could not function without (their dedication),” he said.

“They are the heart and soul of the club and have touched the lives of thousands of children and their parents over the years.”

Mike started volunteering with the Spearwood Hawks 20 years ago.

At his busiest, he was heading up six teams.

“It was mainly because it’s not fair on the kids not to have a coach,” he said.

“Coaches are always hard to come by, so I took on the extra teams so the kids weren’t coach-less.”

After joining up as a coach of one side, he went on to fill a position on the Hawks’ committee, coached Cockburn WABL sides and also sat on the Cockburn Basketball Association’s board.

He still coaches Hawks teams and can be seen sitting at the score bench on SBL nights.

“Tammy will agree with me, one of the main things was to get our kids involved in a sport to keep them off the streets and hanging around shopping centres,” he said.

“We thought that if we get them involved, we need to get involved too. We can’t just leave them at the door and run.”

For Tammy, she jumped at a position on the Hawks’ committee in 1979 before taking up roles as a coach.

She has toured with representative teams and was previously Cockburn’s SBL director.

“The biggest enjoyment is still coaching the kids,” she said.

“I have a belief that if you teach kids a team sport, you’re teaching them loyalty and commitment, which helps them later on in life with jobs.

“I see what sport does for kids and that does make you feel good.”

Mike agreed, saying the buzz was being able to watch kids grown and learn.

“I’ve had quite a bit of success with teams, but my biggest achievement and the biggest thing I get out of it still is watching the kids grow up and become adults,” he said.

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