Head Men's Basketball Coach – Pratt Cannoneers
There are few moments in life that you will always remember where you were when they happened, and when Walter Rickard, Pratt Institute Director of Athletics, called to offer me the full-time head coaching position of the men’s basketball team, that was one of those moments.
For the record, I was in a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot on Washington Street in Middletown, Connecticut with current Wesleyan assistant and good friend Billy Battaglia. There were few things that could distract me from my seemingly daily mission of filling my body with caffeine, but this was one of them.
I accepted the position and could not be more excited to be the man in charge of the Pratt Men’s Basketball program. For the month that I’ve been working here, I have been welcomed with open arms in both the Athletics Department and other aspects of campus. It’s an unbelievably nice campus, in a perfect location (Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, NY) filled with unbelievably supportive people that are fully on-board with the advancement of not just men’s basketball, but the athletics program as a whole.
The program is growing and we are headed in a great direction. Last year’s 6-11 record is something that we are going to build on, but I believe it’s more important to measure our growth by progress than record. We are in the process of transitioning to NCAA Division III (another investment by the administration showing their support for athletics) and my job is to get us better each and every day so that not only are we competitive in our current conference (Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference), but ready to compete as soon as we are accepted into an NCAA Division III conference.
Our program will be built on accountability, relentless effort and discipline. I am so excited to build the culture around our current core of returners and new student-athletes that we recruit. I cannot wait to add even more high-achieving basketball student-athletes that value the amazing education, location and athletics that Pratt has to offer.
Certainly the transition from assistant to head coach will be a new experience for me, but I feel very confident in my readiness to thrive in the new position. This is largely due to the preparation and training I have received in past positions. Both Joe Reilly at Wesleyan and Adam Turner at Bard allowed me to immerse myself in every aspect of the program, from on-court Xs and Os, to practice planning to fundraising to alumni relations to recruiting and empowered me to continue to increase my role and do more and more each day and year.
At the risk of this turning into a terrible Oscars-type speech, I owe an enormous amount of gratitude to a number of people. First of all, my parents and my family have been incredibly supportive of me along this journey. Without their unyielding support, I never would have had the backing to pursue coaching and be where I am today. Any success that I have achieved or will achieve is truly a testament to where they have raised me to. Along with my family, I am incredibly thankful for the support that my girlfriend Madison has given me. Her willingness to deal with my working nights and weekends and leaving to recruit on short notice has not gone unnoticed.
One of my mentors, Wesleyan head coach Joe Reilly brought me in two years ago and allowed me to be a part of the first-class program he runs in the NESCAC. He told me when I was hired that in two years I would be qualified to be a college head coach and he lived up to that promise. I count myself as extremely lucky that not only did I gain a mentor in Coach Reilly, but also a life-time supporter and good friend. Bard College head coach Adam Turner took me in as an assistant in 2013 and truly gave me a chance. I will forever be grateful for his helping me to break into the business and never hesitating to lend a helping hand or great advice even after I left Bard. He has become one of my best friends not just in the business, but in life.
Two other coaches that also are owed a significant thank you are Sacred Heart assistant coach Kyle Steinway and Vassar College head coach BJ Dunne. Both are good friends that I am lucky enough to have had the opportunity to work with for short periods of time (with Kyle for a season as Hofstra and with BJ for a month as part of the Maccabi USA team). Both truly went to bat for me throughout this process, recommending me with incredibly strong backing, as well as offering advice, support and friendship throughout.
Lastly, I must thank Pratt Insittute Director of Athletics Walter Rickard, along with the Institute’s administration and the search committee, for placing their faith in me to lead the Cannoneer program into the next era of special accomplishments. I am grateful for the opportunity, proud to be your head coach and excited to show you the amazing things that will be accomplished by the Pratt Cannoneers’ men’s basketball program under my leadership.