MILESTONE: Sam Johnstone will play his 300th game for Burnie this weekend, pictured with his wife Karen and children Nathanael and Grace. Picture: Camron Slessor. Sam Johnstone is one of the most experienced basketball players on Coast and has always had the Burnie Tigers in his heart.
The NWBU veteran will line-up for his 300th game for Burnie on Friday night since first donning the Tigers guernsey 17 years ago.
He said to be able to run on court for such a big milestone at a club he loves would be a special moment for himself and his family.
“I started playing in the men’s in the year 2000 and I’ve got some great memories here,” Johnstone said
“I’ve obviously seen a lot of coaches come through and a lot of turnover of players here which has been great to be able to play with so many people.
“Over the years it didn’t matter if the team was successful or not, you sort of just played for that camaraderie and the players you get to spend time with.”
Johnstone also has experience playing with Smithton where he spent three years as a player, one of those as coach as well.
He said while that time was great for his development, he always had the Tigers in the back of his mind.
“I was always drawn back to this stadium and I guess I’m a Burnie boy through and through.
“Other milestone games have come and gone before but this one is pretty special for me.
“To sit back and say you’ve played 300 games for the club you love is amazing.
“All the time and effort and being away from your family, there’s a lot that goes into it which that people don’t see.
“I suppose I went through some tough times with the club as well and the times when the club decided to go through a rebuild with younger teams.
“So it’s been nice to play the last three or four seasons and to be involved in the success as well.”
While admitting he still had plenty left to give on the court, Johnstone said coaching was something that definitely interested him for the future.
“I love helping out with coaching, I teach at Burnie High so I love my job there and I’m really passionate about helping young people andbasketball is no different.
“I don’t have to play big minutes anymore, I still enjoy being a player and even if I play zero minutes or get a decent chunk of the game, it’s something I enjoy just going through it with the boys.
“You’re still helping the young guys out on and off the court.
“Players like Emmitt Smith and Isaac Plant, I do a lot of training with those guys away from just the basketball and if I did stop right now that’s whatI’d miss the most.”
The Tigers face off against Ulverstone on Friday night and Johnstone said to mark his milestone game against traditional rivals would add to the occasion.
“It was pretty tough losing Brad [Simpson] in the final against them last year but we won’t make excuses.
“But it’s something that’s always been there since I was young, there’s always been a rivalry between Ulverstone and Burnie.
“On court it’s always a good battle with those guys and it will definitely be a good battle this week, I have no doubt.”
The Tigers take on Ulverstone at Burnie Stadium from 8.30pm on Friday night.
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