My journey into the profession of coaching has been a long and very rewarding one. When I graduated from Ursinus College back in 2003, I didn’t know what career that I wanted to choose. The one thing that I did know was that regardless of my profession, I wanted to be sure I could coach basketball. You see even when I was playing; I knew that one day I wanted to be a coach. I wasn’t sure what level but I just loved the X’s and O’s of the game and knew it had to be a part of my life. So after a summer internship working at a sports camp, I decided to jump in to a business that my mother has been so successful with; real estate. Not only did this give me an opportunity for a pretty lucrative career, it allowed me to pursue my coaching career. My coaching career began back at my old high school; Haddon Heights High School, where my late high school coach Butch McLean, allowed me to be a volunteer for the varsity team. After one season as a volunteer, he hired me to be the head freshmen coach and assistant varsity coach. Following that season, I had the opportunity to follow one of the other assistant coaches Mike Ricci, who had been a successful head coach at Paulsboro High School before helping out at Haddon Heights. I followed Mike to Gateway Regional High School where I was the head JV coach and assistant varsity coach for the next three years. We took over a struggling program and laid the foundation for future success. After the third season, Mike had the opportunity to go back to Haddon Heights as the head coach after Butch McLean moved to Triton High School to take their varsity job. When Mike left Gateway, I was named the head varsity coach. Mike and I had laid a solid foundation and it was time to see if I could keep the program moving forward. The first season was a rocky one as the players were all young, no seniors in the rotation. We struggled that season, but the players bought in and you could see the changes were beginning to work. My second season at Gateway, we went .500, which was the second best record in school history and hosted a state tournament game for the first time in program history. We had an All-Conference player that year as well as an All-South Jersey Group 1 player and I was excited about the direction the program was headed.
However, it was during that summer that I began to really pursue coaching as a full-time profession. I had been thinking about it for a few years and was looking into moving up and becoming a coach at the collegiate ranks. I left my full-time job, and I spent the summer working various camps, networking with college coaches, asking for advice on how to move up to the collegiate ranks, and then in the beginning of October 2010, I got my break. I had met Cabrini College head coach Marcus Kahn a few times and he was helpful in giving me advice and actually had one of my ex-players on his team. I called Marcus to wish him luck their upcoming season, and chance would have it that one of his assistants had just left to pursue a head coaching position elsewhere. Marcus invited me on campus for an interview and within a couple of days I was named the assistant coach at Cabrini College.
My first year at Cabrini was a very successful year and one in which I learned a great deal about how a college program was run. I learned about the recruiting process, the attention to detail needed to run successful practices, the commitment to success that was needed and most important how to grow a group of individuals from various backgrounds into a team! We went on to have a record of 24-6, won our regular season and conference tournament championships, and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual National Runner-Up Wooster College. While the loss was tough to swallow at the time, it served as a tremendous learning experience as we learned what type of players we needed to compete at that level and gave our young team the experience it needed to be successful in the future.
My second season at Cabrini was one or the ages! We returned a tremendous team and added some very talented pieces to go along with them. We went on to have the most successful season in school history. We finished with a record of 31-2, won our regular season and conference tournament championships, made a magical run to the NCAA Division III National Championship game and fell just short of winning it! We lost to Wisconsin-Whitewater 63-60, a game and a season that I will never forget.
And finally in my third season at Cabrini, we again had a fantastic season. We ended up with a record of 25-6, won our regular season and conference tournament championships for the third straight season, and made another tough run through the NCAA tournament advancing to the Elite 8 where we fell to the eventual National Champions Amherst College. It was again a great run and a season that I will never forget. While we graduate five seniors from this team, I love the players that we return and look forward to adding new pieces and trying to make another great run!
During the offseason, I have been rewarded with the opportunity to work closely with the Hoop Group; working their summer camps, AAU tournaments, Top 100 events. This opportunity has allowed me to continue to grow my network of coaches at all levels and has been a rewarding experience as I have met some truly amazing people and coaches and formed great relationships along the way. Like everyone, I am not sure what the future holds for me. I can tell you that I have aspirations of being a head coach and one day making the move to the Division I level. Neither move will be easy, but if it were easy then everyone would be doing it! I will continue to grind it out and continue to network and see where my future leads.