The Illawarra Basketball Association Ltd was founded on April 21st 1954 by a group of ten enthusiasts.
President: John Murphy – Vice Presidents: Ernie Kaucis & Mr Gaynor – Treasurer: Peter Andrews – Publicity Officer: Brian Surtees – Acting Secretary: C.H. Wettengel.
The Mormon Seagulls comprised mostly of Mormon missionaries living in Wollongong were the first team registered (August 23rd 1954) for the initial competition. Seven teams were registered participated in the first season: Mormon Seagulls, Ramblers, Tempo, Derra Flyers, Grand Trotters (Commonwealth Bank), Chalkies (Teachers), Metro (currently Social Unisex).
Games were played at Unanderra Hostel, the first champions were Tempo who went through the season undefeated. Tempo Players: Enn Alla, Harry Alla Jr, V.Taurins, L.Lainela, F.Bariss, J.Tuvik, A.Tinni.
The Beaton Park Stadium was completed in 1965, a game between Illawarra and Sydney Paratels was played to entertain the crowd present for the opening. Over the years the Stadium has seen some memorable games with big names; The Australian Boomers (Australia’s 1st NBA product Luc Longley played with the Boomers in the late 80’s at the Snakepit) and Opals have played the occasional exhibition game, the Harlem Globe Trotters have graced the courts numerous times over the years, as well as the US National Womens team and various NCAA college teams.
The first State Championship in the senior division was won by the Illawarra Men’s team in 1968 with Ted Weston as coach. The team consisted of players who had come through junior ranks; Alan Jones, Steve Tonkin, Ray Hannett, David & Peter Brettell, Bob Kubbinga, John Scott, Hugh Brandon and Adrian Hurley. The powerful Newcastle team was defeated in the Semi-Finals with only four players on the court (Peter, Alan, Steve & Ray).
In 1979 the National Basketball League (NBL) begun with Illawarra as a inaugural team. The team in the first season was: Jim Slacke, Jim Williams, Gordie McLeod, Ron Smith, Steve Tonkin, Bob Kubbinga (Capt.), Ted Holcombe, Tom Pottinger, Tony Robinson, Phil Hamer, Andy Hedman, Joe Farrugia (Coach), Geoff Durrant (Manager).
It took until 1986 for the David Lindstrom coached Hawks to make the play-off finals. In 2001 the Hawks became the first team from New South Wales to be crowned NBL Champions with a 2-1 series victory over Townsville.
The Illawarra Hawks (Wollongong Hawks) played their last regular season NBL game at the Snakepit in 1998 by defeating Townsville, a week later Hawks ended their competition association at “The Pit” with a loss to Perth. The Hawks relationship with the Snakepit still exists as a training venue and as pre-season exhibition game venue.
- Peter Andrews (deceased)
- Harry Alla Snr (deceased)
- Oliver Ounapu
- Barry Benjamin
- Dr Adrian Hurley
- Edna Williams
- Edward Weston
- Peter Brettell
- John Trivellion Scott
- Paul Devine
- Ken Riseborough
- Pat Cherrington (deceased)
- Roy Brettell (deceased)
- Betty Hassen (nee Jones)
- Malcolm Harris
- Warwick Stutchbury (deceased)
- Syd Webb
- Peter Bolt (deceased)
- David North
- Michael McGrath
- Bill Dowson