I went to high school in New York City in the late 80s when the Big East was just exploding and New York City basketball was at its peak. I used to go to Shamrock Basketball Camp every summer run by John Carey, the long-time highly successful coach at All Hallows in the Bronx. Going into my sophomore year I came home from camp with my camp report card and my coach, Kevin Pigott, who has now been at Fordham Prep as a coach for just about ever, wrote, “You will make a great coach!” That was nice, and I like to think he was right, but it pretty much said everything that needed to be said about my career as a player.
I knew I wanted to be a coach in high school, so I went to visit a family friend, Rich Petriccione, who was the athletic director at Iona College at the time. Rich had been a student manager under Jim Valvano at Iona and was a coach for 10 years out of college, working with Pat Kennedy at Iona and at Florida State. Both of my parents were Iona graduates and I grew up all over the campus. So Rich agreed to have a meeting with me to discuss my desire to be a college basketball coach.
After we set up the meeting, before we hung up the phone, he said “Do me a favor. Can you bring me a coffee to the meeting? I like it with cream and two sugars.” I was a little confused, but I said sure and hung up the phone.
When the morning came that we were scheduled to meet, I was in the kitchen with my Mom at home and I told her that Rich had asked me to bring him a cup of coffee. Rich was a funny guy who was always breaking balls, so I wasn’t sure if he was kidding or not. My Mom said “If he asked you to bring him a cup of coffee, you better bring him a cup of coffee.” So I made sure I brought Rich his cup of coffee, cream, with 2 sugars.
I was kind of nervous when I walked into Rich’s office, but the first thing he did was smile and say “Is that my coffee? Cream, 2 sugars?” I said “Yup, cream two sugars. Just like you asked.”
And he said, “Great. Thanks. So you wanna be a coach, huh?” I said yes. And he said, “Good. Because that is what you are going to be doing for your first five years, and you aren’t going to get paid to do it.”
Welcome to coaching, kid.