Kathryn James to leave IBC in new year

Kathryn James, Nick Drane, and the photographer of this picture, Pavel Kricka, have worked together for IBC for over a decade

After nearly fourteen years of service, Kathryn James has announced that she will be stepping away from Ipswich Basketball Club. Kathryn, who is currently in her second stint as Chairperson of the club, leaves behind a legacy that has played an enormous role in establishing IBC as one of the most respected and best run basketball clubs in the country, and will be almost impossible to replace.

Kathryn was a player for Ipswich during the club’s first ‘golden era’ back in the 1980s, and went on to earn representative honors for England u17 Girls. She then returned to Ipswich Basketball Club in 2005 after being appointed as the Suffolk Sport Basketball Development Coordinator, a role she held for seven years – before moving on to become Senior Sports Development Officer at Suffolk Sport. Kathryn now takes her considerable expertise in sports development to Exeter, where she will take on the role of Regional Manager with Sported, where she will undoubtedly be helping to inspire more young people through sport.

“It takes a special combination of knowledge, enthusiasm, hard work and most importantly the ability to connect with people to have the type of impact that Kathryn has had on this club” – Nick Drane on Kathryn James

During her time at Ipswich, Kathryn has held several different positions. In addition to her current role as chair, Kathryn has been the clubs safeguarding lead for many years, as well as being instrumental in leading a number of off court activities that have raised the standards of the programme. The application for the ‘Inspired Facilities Fund’ for the refurbishment of the sports hall at Copleston Sports Centre, was led by Kathryn, the clubs successful satellite initiative was also masterminded by ‘KJ’. She was integral in the early stages of the establishment of the Ipswich Basketball Academy, also at Copleston and the club’s ‘Five Star’ status, making Ipswich one of the top five clubs in the country, is a consequence of Kathryn’s work behind the scenes, ensuring that Ipswich is as professional a club as there is in the UK.

Away from the club, Kathryn has been the figurehead for the country school’s basketball association for many years; she has led the Suffolk development pathway as well as being a driving force within the East Region both as a development coach and administrative lead. She is also a qualified table official and has become a national league referee, and works hard to develop other young officials within the sport.

Kathryn in 2012, when she used her summer time off from IBC to volunteer as a Gamesmaker for the 2012 London Olympics

Kathryn has administered and run coaching courses in the county for over a decade, facilitating the development of current international coaches such as Matthew Harber, Adam Davies and Cristina Stanciuca – as well as ensuring that there are opportunities for local basketball enthusiasts to develop. Pretty much every coach that has worked for our club over the past decade qualified on a course organized by Kathryn.

Of course, her biggest impact has been on the court where she was a leading figure in the development of so many young players. Before Kathryn came to the club, to say that the club was struggling would be an understatement. With Bernard Ball (Kathryn’s father) retired, Ipswich were in desperate need of leadership as the basketball revolution in Suffolk was about to start. Her first season as a Head Coach was in 2006, when the Ipswich Bobcats Under-14s were re-launched. Kathryn went on to coach at Under-16, Under-18 and senior level. More recently Kathryn has been leading our Under-12 programme – ensuring that the girls get the best possible start to their basketball career.

In the process, she has been the driving force behind the re-establishment of Ipswich as a leading junior women’s programme nationally. Her impact on the female game has been immeasurable, inspiring so many young female players and coaches. When Kathryn arrived at the club there were no senior teams, two junior boys’ teams and just one girls’ team – she leaves us with two senior teams, seven junior teams and two academy teams. During her time Ipswich have had nearly twenty players represent their country at European Championships as well as four coaches work at international level.

“Kathryn is irreplaceable,” Club Head Coach Nick Drane says. “She will disagree with me on that and tell me off. But you cannot replace what Kathryn has done for this club – not with one person. It takes a special combination of knowledge, enthusiasm, hard work and most importantly the ability to connect with people to have the type of impact that she has had on this club and on so many people. I am now going to have to find out what I have always dreaded – what I would do without Kathryn James.

“We have kind of come as a pair for over a decade, and we have shared this journey. She is the best person I have ever worked with in basketball but far more importantly she has been and still will be one of my best friends in the whole world. Of course, I am so proud and happy for her. Words cannot describe how much I owe her, how much she means to me and how much I will miss her.”

Kathryn will continue to be involved with the club in the coming weeks, before she makes her move to the West Country in the new year and begins a new chapter.

Ipswich Basketball Club would like to thank Kathryn for everything she has done for us for so many years.

Thank you, KJ.