Aaron Fearne has held the position of head coach of the CQUniversity Cairns Taipans since 2009, and in his six years at the helm has led the club to two grand finals appearances (2011, 2015).
Fearne is the all-time longest-serving coach of the Taipans (206 games at the close of the 2015/16 season), and in 2015 became the first Taipans coach to win the Lindsay Gaze Trophy for NBL Coach of the Year.
The honour followed a record-breaking 2014-15 season, his Taipans storming their way to a team-best 21-7 and earning the honour of becoming the first regional team in 30 years to claim the NBL minor premiership.
Since arriving in Cairns in 1998 Aaron has had a major influence in the development of junior basketball in the Cairns region. He has a knack for identifying and developing young talent, with many of the players under his guidance going on to scholarships in the US College system and the Australian Institute of Sport and beyond, including the likes of Aron Baynes, Nathan Jawai and Kerry Williams.
Aaron has been with the Taipans as a player then coach since their inception in 1999. He is passionate about the Taipans as well as ongoing development of junior basketball in Cairns, as evidenced by his tireless work in developing local players and coaches in Cairns. Aaron has also been a major factor in the success of the Cairns Marlins ABA program and has been an on court leader throughout his playing career.
Aaron took over coaching the Cairns Marlins in 2006 and in 2007 was awarded ABA Coach of the Year for leading the Cairns Marlins to the National title against the Dandenong Rangers.
- Graduated 1997 – Mayville State University North Dakota. Played 2 seasons with Mayville and reached the National Tournament in both seasons.
- 1998 – Started with the Cairns Marlins in the ABA competition.
- Played in 4 National ABA tournaments winning 2 championships 1998 and 2004.
- 1999/00 & 2000/01 – Played with the Cairns Taipans
- U18 Cairns Marlin representative team since 1999. Finished in top 4 in the state in 4 season and 2nd in the state in two seasons.
- Assistant Coach with U18 North Queensland team which won the National Championships in 2004.
- Coached the U23 Cairns Marlins representative team since 2000. Runners up in NQ Championships for 4 years. Won the title in 2004.
- Coached and overseen Cairns Taipans Academy program since inception in 2001 until 2008.
- Assistant Coach Cairns Taipans from 2001/02 – 2007/08
- Head coach Cairns Taipans 2009/10 – ongoing
Gordie McLeod brings a wealth of NBL and international experience to the CQUniversity Cairns Taipans as assistant coach. A member of the inaugural Illawarra Hawks team in 1979, McLeod averaged 10.0 points, 5.1 assists and 1.4 steals in his 11-season, 259 game NBL career, representing Australia at the 1979 World Championships and 1980 Moscow Olympics.
He led the NBL in assists three times (1984, 1985, 1987) and in 1984 averaged an impressive double-double of 10.3 points and 10.2 assists per game for the Hawks. His number 5 singlet has been retired by the team.
After a stint as head coach of the Australian Institute of Sport, McLeod’s first full-time head coaching job in the NBL came in 1998 with the West Sydney Razorbacks. He has coached 438 games as a head coach for West Sydney (1999-2004), Singapore Slingers (2006-2008) and the Wollongong Hawks (2009-2015), including three grand finals appearances with the Razorbacks (2002, 2004) and Hawks (2010). McLeod earned NBL Coach of the Year honours in 2014.
He joined the Taipans as assistant coach in 2015.
2nd Assistant Coach
Jamie Pearlman forged a 10-year NBL career with the Canberra Cannons (1993-2000) then the Cairns Taipans (2000-2002), earning a reputation as a reliable floor general and pesky defender.
Pearlman averaged 7.2 points, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals in 233 NBL games, turning in his best numbers for Canberra in 1999 with 11.0 points, 4.5 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game.
Pearlman’s defensive excellence was recognised by the Taipans in 2002 when he was named the club’s Defensive Player of the Year.
He joined the Taipans as second assistant coach in 2012, and is also charged with mentoring the club’s junior development programme: the CQUniversity Taipans Academy.
Since 2014 Jamie has also coached the Cairns Marlins QBL programme, leading the side to the playoffs in his first year at the helm.
Strength & Conditioning Coach
Scott Callaghan is responsible for ensuring the CQUniversity Cairns Taipans are in optimal shape when they take the floor each and every night.
Callaghan is one of North Queensland’s leading strength and conditioning coaches, having worked with the Northern Pride Rugby League club before joining the Taipans in 2011.
Scott works closely with coaching and support staff to manage pre-season preparations, player rehabilitation and individual player workloads. His work in conjunction with coaching and support staff ensured that in 2015 the Taipans became the first club in NBL history to field the same starting lineup in every game.