Samit Nuruzade – a multi-championship winner as a player and coach – has been appointed by the college to lead its basketball programme.
He is hoping to instill the dedication and passion that has seen him play professionally in Russia and coach several English teams to numerous championships.
“My goal here is to improve the programme, to win and to get as many people playing basketball as possible,” said Samit, who has a masters degree in Physical Education.
“I turned down another college to work at Priestley because I love the environment and the atmosphere that has been created here.”
Samit, who is 38, grew up in Azerbaijan where sport was a way of life for many children who competed in everything from basketball to football and boxing.
He now hopes to bring that focus and winning mentality to his new protégés.
His influence is already paying dividends after Priestley defeated Loretto College in the first round of the British College’s National Cup 56-53.
“We didn’t have much growing up in Azerbaijan, but here there is a lot of choice and distractions,” he said.
Since moving to England 10 years ago, he has been primarily involved in youth programmes and player development at the country’s biggest club, Greater Manchester Youth.
His under 18s team won, among numerous trophies, the Premier League North and the Sureshot National Cup.
Samit has also been head coach at Reading Rockets, the Thames Valley’s leading basketball squad, where he won the National Trophy and twice triumphed in the end-of-season play-off championship.
The highlight, though, was doing the double by winning the Division One title and play-offs. He was also voted coach of the year by his peers in the English Basketball League.
After leaving the club he was praised by the director of coaching for his commitment in getting the best out of younger players on the senior team.
Samit, who speaks five languages, is now hoping to make a difference to basketball in Warrington.
Nigel Howells, Head of Sport at Priestley College, said: “We’re very lucky to have someone of Samit’s calibre leading the way with basketball at the college. His commitment has been obvious to us and he really is going to be an inspiration for our young players.”