Ben Harvey in charge of the Braves. Photo: Andrew Perryman.

IF there’s one thing that has defined Ben Harvey’s tenure with the Bendigo Braves, it would be passion.

Through 165 games with the club as a player and a further 234 matches as Braves coach Harvey’s heart has often been worn on his sleeve.

And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I still love the game, I still want to be involved in the game and it still brings me a lot of enjoyment,” he said.

Harvey notches his 400th game as a Brave on Saturday night, when his Braves men face a powerful Kilsyth side at Kilsyth Sports Centre.

On the sideline he rarely sits still, pacing up and down, kneeling, jumping and yelling, at times mixing frustration and adulation for his players.

While Harvey thinks he has mellowed over the years he still has his moments of frustration.

The most notable of them came last year, when he injured his calf while on the sideline on the old Bendigo Stadium showcourt.

“Everyone wants to bring that up,” he said this week with a laugh.

“It was just one of those things where I got a little frustrated and it was a bit of a stomp and then I thought ‘oh, that’s not good’.

“I probably have to dial it back a bit from that, but I definitely still show my emotion. I can’t help it sometimes.”

One factor in the continued involvement of Harvey in the sport has been his daughters, Mia and Lily, beginning their own basketball journey.

“I was sitting and watching my daughter play on court one in the new stadium, it’s actually quite nice to sit and watch,” he said.

“I’ve done a lot of coaching domestically with Lily and Mia, you definitely take a different perspective coaching 10-year-old girls to what you do coaching men.

“But at the end of the game it’s the same philosophy. It’s having fun, it’s fundamentals and the principles are still there and creating an environment where they want to play the game and they have the passion for it.”

Another important part of the past few years has been the relationship forged between Harvey and Illawarra Hawks coach Rob Beveridge, in part through former Braves guard Kevin White.

Harvey spent several weeks with the NBL club last year watching on to try to improve himself as a coach.

“Part of it is as you would as a player you still have to try to improve and get better all the time,” he said.

“Coaching is the same thing, you can’t just work off a play book. You have to find people to learn off and get experience and for me being involved in the Hawks has been so good and I have learnt so much from Rob and the program.

“It’s not finding more motivation, it’s finding more passion and more ways to help the team. Hopefully I can pass that on to our local coaches and players as well, it’s not just about helping myself.”

And as with any coaching role there will be losses along the way, but Harvey is sure one thing he will never lose is that trademark passion for the game.

“I think if I ever lost that passion, that’s when I’d know it was probably time to give up,” he said.

– Joel Peterson