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Men’s First Team Coaches

Niel Gillard

Niel is a UKCC Level 3 Coach. He joined the basketball programme as a player in October 2011 after a successful junior career which included representing the England National Teams at U16 and U18 age groups. Alongside studying his undergraduate degree he played for a range of Club teams including the Cheshire Phoenix in the British Basketball League and Manchester Magic of the National Basketball League. He graduated from Chester in 2014 with a degree in law and commenced studying towards a PhD in Law. As a player, Niel has helped the team to win BUCS Northern Division 2A, Northern Conference Cup, NBL Division 4, NBL Division 3 and the National Shield, and won NBL Division 4 Player of the Year. He began coaching the BUCS First Team in 2017/18. In his debut season as Coach, the BUCS First team won the Northern Conference 2A earning promotion to Division 1A and won the BUCS Northern Conference Cup. In his second season, the team reach the quarter-finals of the BUCS Trophy and finished 3rd in Division 1, missing out on the top spot in the final game of the season.

Chris Leonard

Chris is a Level 2 Qualified Coach with Basketball England and has recently moved into a coaching role after wrapping up a 26-year journey as a player. Chris began playing in the National League for Crystal Palace at u18 level (back in 1995!) and, after two seasons, followed it up with a year playing at High School level in Oklahoma, USA. Upon returning to England, he attended Brunel University – where he captained the basketball 1st team – and earned a BA in American Studies, which also included a year of study (and, of course, basketball) at Louisiana College, USA. Since then, he has competed in every level of the English National League, having played for London-based teams Kingston Wildcats and Sutton Pumas, as well as several teams in the North West after moving to Liverpool in 2005, achieving a Master’s Degree at John Moore’s University. Most notably, Chris was on the Liverpool Basketball Club team that won the National Patron’s Cup in 2006 and, more recently, played for Sefton Stars and Warrington Wolves (where he first made acquaintance with UoC Head Coach, Niel Gillard). Between 2012-2017, Chris took a work opportunity in the Netherlands where he also continued his ongoing passion for basketball, playing for his local club (“Tilburg High Five”) in the Dutch National League, 2nd Division. While here, he was also able to get his first taste of coaching, taking over the u16 team as Head Coach (winning the South Regional League in his first season) and serving as an assistant coach for the Club’s u20 team. He is now in his second stint working at the University of Chester and brings a wealth of basketball knowledge and experience to the Men’s 1stTeam.

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