Coaches: The Good, The Bad, The Impactful

February 27th, 2016 | Uncategorized

This week at Ehoops was a great learning experience for me especially on Thursday night with the Ballybean group. We were helping them with a module on how to coach youth sports and when I asked them to reflect on their experience with coaches, most of them didn’t have great things to say. My advice was this “If you had bad experiences you can still grow and be great by learning what not do to.” It’s gold right? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger but it’s just not that easy.

Although I said that I know in my heart that’s a lot easier said then done. I’m grateful that I am able to think like that now but if I look back on my life I have had a lot of dark moments that came from a coach not believing in me. It started at 12 years old on a Brooklyn AAU team with a coach telling me only to shoot and not even put the ball on the floor because I wasn’t good enough. Basically my whole high school career I was told I wasn’t good enough after being cut from the freshman team, and barely making the JV team as a sophomore not even getting in the game during blowouts. Coaches never believing in the chubby kid with an okay jump shot. During my junior season I had a coach who put faith in me, I was playing great, but then an ACL tear and surgery…….yup back to square one. No one believing in Jimmy again. Senior year comes, I’ve worked harder then ever, chubby Jimmy is now lean after all the rehab workouts. Then in comes a new coach and  again the thoughts of not really thinking I had a future in basketball crept in. After a tough season the coach tells me ‘I’m not good enough to play in college’, so that’s it I’m done I quit right?


Naaaaaa it’s on to college for me. I’m a freshman and a walk on at a Junior College who gets lucky enough to have an experienced coach who takes a chance on a slow kid with a knee brace and a strong work ethic. This coach leaves after the season due to other opportunities. Sophomore season comes with a new coaching staff who put their all into coaching and we end up winning in a league that no one expected us to. It’s time to transfer to a 4-year school. I end up at a small D3 school in the Bronx with the help of my coaching staff. The coach here seems to believe in me and although he is not the most positive guy in the world, I had the best individual season ever had averaging high numbers and earning a spot on the all-conference team. My dream is coming true I really am good at this I can make it right?……Wrong ACL tear #2 that April and back to no one believing in Jimmy again. I rehab as hard as I can to come back but I do not get cleared to play in time for the season and a coach who I thought really believed in my abilities suddenly stops calling and texting. So the next year comes around feeling better then ever and we end up starting the season off with the best record in school history, and yours truly is leading the conference in scoring. Then I dislocate my shoulder and the doctor says I’m done for the season. With a lot of prayer and faith I am able to come back after only missing four games. We end up finishing the season with a great record and coming up one game short of the championship. After being named 1st team-all conference and gaining all-met distinction, I feel like I have a shot to play overseas. I go to a person I’m supposed to trust in this case, my coach and he tells me basically I should start looking for other career paths and that I am not good enough, saying “time to face reality come back from fairytale land.” So I say “you’re right buddy I give up” and that’s how my career ended.


Sike! I’m in Northern Ireland now baby and I get a chance not only to play basketball but to help inspire young adults who have experienced the same things I have or even much worse…..dreams do come true. This paragraph isn’t about me though this one is for the coaches who did believe in me and although they might not know it they have left an impact on my life to be remembered forever. My first coach and a man I look up to the most, my father John and his assistant John Kaye. My Coney Island coaches John Quintana, Mr. Lou, and Allen “Boo” Day. Coach Mark Carlino and Coach Eric Kamrath at Highland. Coach Tres Chapman, Jaron Bryant and Mark Berry at Chandler Gilbert. Coach Jeff Attard, Coach Joe, Coach James Mooney, Coach Baril, Coach Brad Oringer and Coach Kevin Clifford from The College of Mount Saint Vincent. And last but not least My mom Margaret, sister Tara and brother John because being the baby of the family they coached me my whole life. I say all these names because they have all had a positive impact on my life and career and although they might not know the tears and emotion I put into writing this. This is my life and they made a difference. I have had plenty of bad experiences with coaches but I find that I play harder and work harder when I think of the coaches who did believe in me! It’s on me now to pass it on and have an impact on these young adults we are working with. Oh and just so you know in my heart my playing career is far from over ;). Thanks for reading folks.



Victory Scholar: James Zuccaro

Present University: Ulster University

US League: Skyline Conference

Club/Community Partner: Ulster Elks

Alma Mater: College of Mount Saint Vincent

Sponsored by: Teamwear Ireland

Stay Updated! Sign up to our newsletter

Stay Updated! Sign up to our newsletter